Mason Dam Hydroelectric Project. The Mason Dam project retrofits an existing dam to provide hydropower in a run-of-release mode. The project area included 100 acres of potential direct impact areas and 10 miles up and downstream indirect (operational impacts). EcoWest conducted all biological and hydrological studies and impact analyses (wetlands, wildlife, fish, aquatic habitat, weeds, TES species, water quality, recreation) for the project, preparing a series of Technical Study Plan Reports. EcoWest also prepared biological sections of the FERC application, the NEPA analyses, and the project Biological Assessment, for which the listed species of concern were bull trout, wolverine, Canada lynx, gray wolf (now de-listed), whitebark pine and spectacular thelypody. A Biological Evaluation was also prepared for 43 other species including redband trout/steelhead, west slope cutthroat trout, spotted frog, bald eagle, white headed woodpecker, and several species of grape-ferns and moonworts.
Project Status: The FERC license has been issued and the project is on track towards construction. EcoWest has continued to assist in obtaining other related permits such as the State 401, Water Quality Certification, a USFS Special Use Permit, and preparing more detailed mitigation, revegetation and erosion controls plans.
Lime Wind Energy Project. The Lime Wind Energy Project is the first wind project to be approved in Baker County and the only one on BLM land in eastern Oregon. EcoWest provided the baseline wildlife assessments, impact analyses and prepared the wildlife sections for the project NEPA dcouments. Wildlife issues included the potential for bird and bat strikes, impacts to a unique pronghorn antelope population, potential loss of big game winter range, and potential impacts to TES wildlife such as sage grouse, ferruginous hawk, six sensitive bat species, burrowing owl, bald eagle and the desert bighorn sheep. Impact analyses addressed both direct impacts, such as rotor strikes, and habitat displacement impacts.
Project Status: A FONSI (Finding of No Significant Impact) was identified as a result of the Environmental Assessment, the Project was constructed and is now operational.
Oregon Power Solutions-Multiple Projects. EcoWest completed feasibility studies and biological resource surveys for proposed wind projects in Baker, Deschutes, Harney, Lake, Malheur and Umatilla Counties, Oregon. The surveys were conducted according to the Oregon Wind Energy Siting and Permitting Guidelines and included avian (raptor nest, breeding bird, migratory bird surveys), sage grouse lek mapping, and other wildlife surveys. We also mapped key wildlife habitat, including wetlands, streams, other riparian habitats on over 60,000 acres of land proposed for wind facility, access road and transmission line construction. Conducted surveys and/or evaluated habitat for numerous species of concern including sage grouse, ferruginous hawk, burrowing owl, grasshopper sparrow, bald and golden eagles, long-billed curlew, pygmy rabbit, Washington ground squirrel, spotted frog, Malheur wire lettuce and numerous sensitive plant species. Avian species were identified by both sight and sound, with bird call identification being crucial to identifying species during the breeding and nesting periods. The habitat mapping and survey results were used to identify the turbine micrositing corridors on the most feasible sites that both met the project objectives and avoided most resource impacts, thereby saving the projects substantial mitigation costs and avoiding many regulatory hurdles.
Project Status: The Biological Reports were approved. The most feasible of the proposed projects have been constructed.
Confidential Clients. EcoWest has worked on an additional 7 Wind Energy Projects (105 to 300 MW each) in the Pacific Northwest in various phases- development, construction oversight, and operation. This has included baseline vegetation, TES species and weed surveys, impact analyses, permitting requirements, mitigation plan development and implementation, revegetation and weed control oversight, and post construction revegetation and mitigation monitoring. Key issues have ranged from avoiding impacts to the listed semaphore grass and spectacular thelypody, and the sensitive white-margined knotweed and Douglas’ clover (all wetland species) to re-establishment of high quality big game winter range habitat, and from wetland permitting/mitigation to upland revegetation sufficient to meet the State erosion control requirements.
Project Status: All projects have been constructed. Post construction compliance has met all revegetation, weed control and mitigation standards on four facilities and is pending on two. The last project is still in the development stage.