Environmental Consultants (Ecologists, Biologists and Archaeologists)
Type of work/when to contact:
Projects that impact wetlands, including streambanks below the annual high water level. Project sites with threatened or endangered species. Projects that require Army Corps of Engineers (COE) 404 permits. Projects with unique wildlife or vegetation considerations. Any project that will impact natural systems.
No official licenses, but the COE maintains a list of wetland consultants. Bachelor’s and/or Master’s degree in biology, ecology or cultural resources. Local experience identifying and working in Colorado, including wetlands.
Where to find an engineer:
Can vary greatly depending on type of work and size of project. Typically billed hourly, often with a not-to-exceed total for the project.
What to ask:
Local experience with similar projects and species, experience with required permits, timeframe for work.
Virtually all stream projects can benefit from consultation with ecologists and biologists as they consider opportunities to protect and restore habitat for fish and wildlife and can frame the project in the context of regulatory requirements.
Various regulations may apply to the wildlife, vegetation and other natural resources on your property. Certain projects may also involve cultural and/or historical resources that will require a permitting process. A professional environmental consultant with knowledge of these resources can help guide you through these regulations and processes. There are a variety of types of environmental consultants and you will need to determine which one best fits your needs. If you are unsure, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and ask an environmental consultant who you should contact.
Wetlands, streams and other water bodies on your property may be protected under the Clean Water Act. Determining if you have a wetland and if it is jurisdictional (regulated by the Corps) may be difficult. It can also be difficult to discern what specific regulation may apply to the activity planned within your wetland, stream, or other water bodies. A wetland consultant, with knowledge of the wetlands found in the Northern Colorado area and the current local regulations, can provide valuable assistance.
When looking for the wetland specialist to assist you, look for specialists that have experience (preferably more than 3 years) delineating wetlands in your general area. Wetland delineation is a well-defined process that is required for certain permits. As a result, these wetland delineations must follow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regional guidelines. They should also have a proven track record with the Corps’ Denver Regulatory office, as well as knowledge of the current federal and local regulations. The Corps’ regulations change frequently and the different regulatory offices (Denver Regulatory Office compared to the Grand Junction Regulatory Office) may have slightly different regulatory requirements. In addition to the Corps’ regulations, they should also be familiar with any local (county, city or town) wetlands requirements and permits.
Threatened and Endangered Species Specialists (T&E Specialists)
Most wetland specialists can also provide assistance for threatened and endangered species. If you potentially have habitat for a threatened and endangered (T&E) species, consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service may be required. For example, if you live along the St. Vrain River and Preble’s meadow jumping mouse (a threatened species) has been found nearby, there is a good chance you will need to meet certain T&E requirements when working on a project on your property. Sometimes, contracting with a T&E consultant will be needed to determine if your land has a T&E species present or not.
Similar to the wetland specialists, you will want to look for someone who has proven experience working in your area with the Fish and Wildlife Service on T&E issues. They will also need to be knowledgeable about the current regulations. Ideally, you will be able to find someone with recent working experience in your area. The experience will often give the specialist a head-start on what work will be required for your project.