Biological Studies & Surveys
Live Oak Associates is a leader in preparing biological studies in support of California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review, wetland delineations in support of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers jurisdictional determinations, constraints analyses, and habitat suitability evaluations. Our biologists are qualified to conduct focused surveys for numerous special status plant and animal species, as well as general preconstruction surveys for sensitive biological resources.
Biological Studies in Support of CEQA/NEPAOur biological study process begins by gathering information on the existing biological conditions of the project site, generally through one or more field surveys and review of existing natural resource data for the project vicinity. We use this information to characterize the habitats and resources of the project site and evaluate its use, or potential use, by special status species. We then analyze the effects of the project on these resources, and propose mitigations to reduce the magnitude of these effects. We condense our findings and proposed mitigations into a technical report referred to as a biological evaluation (BE) or biological assessment (BA). The BE or BA is used to inform the Biological Resources section of the environmental document that will undergo CEQA or NEPA review. With more than 800 biological studies completed over the past ten years for CEQA alone, LOA has the expertise to guide you through the CEQA/NEPA process as efficiently as possible.
Wetland DelineationsOur biologists are trained to delineate waters of the U.S. and other jurisdictional waters subject to the jurisdictions of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Regional Water Quality Control Boards. Delineations are prepared in conformance with the 1987 Corps of Engineers Wetlands Delineation Manual and all applicable statutes and regulations. These delineations require field skills in identifying vascular plants, hydric soils, evidence of wetland hydrology, and indicators of ordinary high water. We have prepared several hundred wetland delineations that have been reviewed and verified by the San Francisco, Sacramento, and Los Angeles Districts of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Constraints AnalysesIn the initial stages of project conceptualization, the proponent of a particular project may wish to determine the degree to which site development may be hampered by biological constraints. For example, the site may contain endangered species or their habitats, federally protected wetlands, or an important wildlife movement corridor. Our constraints analyses typically consist of one or more field surveys to characterize the biological resources of the site, followed by an in-depth evaluation of project constraints that may be posed by the presence of these resources, based on current regulations, policies, and court opinions. We may then make recommendations for revised project design. We typically package a constraints analysis as a technical report for the client’s use only; such reports do not become part of the environmental record. Based on our findings, a project proponent may choose to proceed with the project as planned, make changes to its design or location to minimize biological constraints, or elect a different project altogether.
Habitat Suitability EvaluationsOccasionally, projects require specific information on whether a project site is suitable for a specific habitat, plant, or animal. For example, restoration projects may need to know where to restore a particular habitat, plant, and/or animal for their project to succeed and reintroduction projects may require specific habitat information to increase chance of success and survival. In addition, habitat suitability evaluations on a larger scale can identify core habitat areas and migration corridors for a specific species, which can better evaluate impacts to species that migrate over large ranges. At Live Oak Associates we have the experience and extensive tools to prepare habitat suitability evaluations on a small or large scale for habitats and plant and animal species.
Special Status Species SurveysWe are an industry leader in the study and management of endangered, threatened, and other special status species. Our reputation for successfully identifying and resolving issues regarding special status species is built upon a staff of qualified biologists with experience in interpreting and applying relevant regulations to specific projects for numerous special status plants and animals . Surveys are conducted according to the protocols of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, as applicable, and have the objective of assisting project proponents with avoiding or minimizing impacts to special status species, such that projects may proceed in compliance with the state and federal Endangered Species Acts and other laws protecting wildlife and plants.
Preconstruction SurveysWe conduct preconstruction surveys for a variety of projects involving impacts to wetlands and special status species and their habitats. Generally, such surveys are mandated by the CEQA/NEPA document for the project, or are included as provisions of permits for impacts to jurisdictional waters or incidental take of listed species. Surveys are conducted according to accepted protocols, as appropriate. Typically, we summarize the results of our preconstruction surveys in a brief letter report illustrated with figures and photographs, and suitable for submission to the resource and regulatory agencies that have project oversight.