OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION SECTOR
"I want to thank you and the Goshawk gang for a great job this year. I used to fear treading in environmentally sensitive areas, but you guys executed this so well. I look forward to our next job together!"
-Brian P. Murphy, Sr. Geophysicist, Jetta Operating Company, Inc.
Jetta Operating Company, Inc., Brazoria County, Texas
Issue: It can be complicated to obtain 3-D seismic investigation permits. This work requires authorizations; permits; and/or coordination with land owners, local authorities, public safety organizations, state and federal resource protection agencies, etc. With less than one month to project kick-off, Jetta Operating Company, Inc. (Jetta) determined the proposed seismic operations to be conducted within portions of the San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge required a permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). A land agent with whom Goshawk had previously worked in sensitive habitats recommended our services to Jetta.
Action: Goshawk quickly coordinated with project engineers, geologists, and land agents to determine the extent of the proposed action and outlined opportunities to reduce impacts within refuge lands. Goshawk contacted the Refuge Manager to determine the most expedient way to obtain appropriate permits. Goshawk filed a permit application and, with responsive input from the entire Jetta team, compiled a "Plan of Operations" within one week. While the USFWS evaluated the document, Goshawk distributed the plan to team members to incorporate the requirements into their project schedule.
Outcome: A meeting with the USFWS Refuge Manager and Jetta team members was conducted on the proposed site to discuss implementation of the “Plan of Operations” and specific items of concern. The permit authorization was signed at the end of the meeting and the project was allowed to proceed on refuge lands. Thanks to the flexibility of all parties involved, the permit was obtained in less than one month.
ConocoPhillips Company, DeWitt County, Texas
Issue: After a ConocoPhillips project manager stated the trouble they were having negotiating a Section 10 Permit with the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), a Goshawk client recommended our services. Another party had submitted the permit application more than nine months before Goshawk was contacted. The ConocoPhillips project proposed the installation of a pipeline across the Guadalupe River (a Section 10 [navigable] waterbody) and several tributaries that were also regulated by the USACE.
Action: Goshawk immediately gathered project stakeholders including surveyors, engineers, construction contractors, company representatives, and USACE to discuss the project. Goshawk’s cultural resources staff quickly developed a research methodology that would address the agency’s concerns and cause minimal project delays or modifications. Goshawk proposed a cultural resource survey, augmented by backhoe trenching, to rapidly evaluate the potential for the project to impact cultural resources along the Guadalupe River banks. This action required coordination with the Texas Historical Commission, General Land Office, and the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, in addition to USACE. Upon USACE’s approval of the research methodology, the cultural resource survey was quickly completed with two crews, and a report was submitted to the regulatory authorities.
Outcome: An extension of a known cultural resource site was identified and documented; and minor modifications were made to the project to avoid all identified resources. From the Waters of the US determination to the completion of a cultural resource survey (including development of a scope of work), the entire project was submitted to USACE within one month. All regulatory agencies granted concurrence within two months, and the project was completed soon thereafter.
EOG Resources, Inc., McMullen County, Texas
Issue: The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) issued a cease-and-desist order during the construction of a 9-mile pipeline for impacts to Waters of the US associated with insufficient stormwater controls. This pipeline was essential for the transportation of product to market for numerous wells. EOG Resources, Inc., hired Goshawk to resolve the cease-and-desist order and resume construction.
Action: The cleared pipeline right-of-way (ROW) traversed 11 Waters of the US (including the Frio River) at 19 separate locations. Due to the density of known cultural resources in close proximity to the ROW, USACE required a cultural resource survey. Goshawk identified eight new sites, revisited five previously recorded sites, and adjusted site boundaries accordingly. All sites were previously disturbed by ranching activities (repeated root-plowing to clear brush) and/or ROW clearing. No sites produced features and only one site was recommended for further investigation; however, USACE did not concur and recommended testing at eight of the 13 sites. Additional testing on adjacent private land (outside of the ROW) was not possible. Therefore, alternate mitigation measures were investigated to offset the assumed loss of cultural resources.
Outcome: Goshawk coordinated with several public and private resource protection agencies to create a novel mitigation approach that was cost effective and could be completed relatively quickly. The mitigation included a preservation component through a non-profit organization and an educational component through a major Texas university. Goshawk helped the company resolve the enforcement action and complete construction within nine months of the cease-and-desist order’s issuance
LAND DEVELOPMENT SECTOR
"Everyone at Goshawk has been a pleasure to work with, and we received regular updates without even having to ask. Not only did they develop a Cultural Resources Survey pro-bono, but they also prioritized our project so that we could meet our tight deadlines. Working with Goshawk kept our project from being delayed or going over budget."
-Kimberly Griffin, Grants Manager, Austin Habitat for Humanity
Austin Habitat for Humanity, Travis County, Texas
Issue: Austin Habitat for Humanity issued a request for proposals (RFP) to provide Texas Historical Commission (THC) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) compliance services for a proposed multi-home site. The RFP stressed the need for a quick turn-around to complete the project on schedule and required THC concurrence within two months.
Action: The Goshawk team was excited to support Austin Habitat for Humanity, offered our services pro-bono, and quickly began work on the project. Goshawk scheduled a meeting with THC representatives to outline survey protocols, discuss scheduling constraints, and identify any potential pitfalls. It was determined that the project required an architectural study. Goshawk hired an architectural historian to consult on the project who was gracious enough to work on the weekend to meet the deadline.
Outcome: Due to proactive THC consultation, research on HUD requirements, team enthusiasm, and quality of the survey report, authorization to proceed was granted within 50 days (several days ahead of the deadline).
Austin Capitol Concrete, Inc., Williamson County, Texas
Issue: Austin Capitol Concrete, Inc., was expanding an existing commercial development in Leander, Texas. The project had been approved by the City of Leander several years prior; however, a portion of the project was shelved due to the economic recession. When our client began earth moving in preparation for completing the project, the city red-tagged the project and required re-submission of the development plan. The City requested US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) compliance documentation because the project entailed the realignment of a reach of the South Fork of Brushy Creek.
Action: The on-site reach of the South Fork of Brushy Creek was previously channelized in conjunction with a bridge replacement project; however, Goshawk determined that it still met the Waters of the US criteria. Goshawk prepared a Nationwide Permit 39 application and requested a waiver of the 300-linear-foot limitation based on the impacted nature of the creek. Goshawk performed an archival review and determined the site had a moderate to high probability for containing significant cultural resources based on the creek, depositional soils, and proximity to Bagdad Cemetery. Goshawk notified the client and obtained authorization to conduct a cultural resource survey. Although a few artifacts were located, they were out of context and were not deemed “significant.” When USACE later requested a cultural resources survey, Goshawk had already compiled the report and was able to quickly submit it to the Texas Historical Commission (THC) for approval.
Outcome: USACE granted Nationwide Permit authorization within four months of Goshawk’s authorization to proceed. Goshawk’s proactive coordination and open communication with the THC maintained rapport and goodwill.
Harwood Rail Spur, Gonzales County, Texas
Issue: Goshawk conducted an Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) of a 200-acre tract to identify potential protected resources and/or other possible development constraints for a proposed rail spur right-of-way (ROW) and associated structures. The access road for the site traversed a Waters of the US, which required US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) authorization for minor impacts via Nationwide Permit 14. As part of permit compliance, Goshawk conducted a cultural resource archival review. This review determined that the ROW and other portions of the site presented a moderate probability for the presence of buried cultural resources.
Action: A series of shovel tests were conducted, according to Council of Texas Archeologists (CTA) guidelines, to evaluate areas with moderate probability of holding buried artifacts. Significant portions of the site did not require a survey based on these soil types.
Outcome: No resources were identified, Nationwide Permit authorization was obtained, and the project was recommended to proceed as proposed.
City of Cedar Park, Williamson County, Texas
Issue: The extension of Cypress Creek Road from US 183 (business) to US 183A required the realignment of over 500 linear feet of Cluck Creek and its mature riparian corridor. In addition, the proposed road would traverse smaller spring-fed tributaries and a regionally important railway corridor. It would require a full National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) assessment to obtain project authorization. Goshawk team members performed a Waters of the US delineation, prepared the US Army Corps of Engineers Individual Permit application, and developed a suitable mitigation plan to address all protected resources. Multiple additional federal and state agencies including US Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality were consulted to obtain the appropriate permits and authorizations for construction within this ecologically-sensitive area, which potentially provided habitat for several threatened or endangered (T/E) species. Goshawk also consulted the Texas Historical Commission and conducted a survey due to the moderate to high potential for the presence of significant cultural resources in the project vicinity.
Action: During the pre-field resource review, it was apparent that the project would traverse an area with numerous protected resources. It would be complicated to obtain authorization from several regulatory agencies, each with their own agenda and regulations. A detailed assessment of the site and surrounding area (where public access was allowed) was performed to develop an overall understanding of project needs and constraints. Goshawk team members worked closely with project stakeholders to incorporate cost-effective design features to minimize impacts to sensitive areas; however, public safety concerns prevented total avoidance. An interagency meeting was arranged to get all key regulatory project managers on the site at the same time to discuss avoidance measures. An open discussion of the project constraints and overlapping regulatory jurisdictions allowed the project managers to reach a general consensus that day.
Outcome: Goshawk team members developed a multi-disciplinary mitigation plan that incorporated creek and riparian corridor creation, deed-restriction of off-site high-quality creek corridors within an undeveloped city park, and participation in an in lieu fee program administered by the Nature Conservancy. All permitting agencies issued project authorization within one year of project initiation thanks to the speedy completion of the environmental assessment, innovative project design, proactive coordination, and a multi-component mitigation plan.
"Our firm has worked with Goshawk Environmental Consulting since its inception and collaborated with Zane on environmental related services for many years prior to 2005. Goshawk's experience with threatened/endangered species and jurisdictional water determinations is exceptional. They listen to objectives of each individual project and focus their efforts toward achieving those objectives while recognizing that the project is part of a greater site development plan. They do ont over-produce reports, they simply include the information needed to achieve the objective and charge a fair price to do so. I would recommend Goshawk to any engineering ffirm looking to complete, or needing support regarding, threatened/endangered species or jurisdictional water determinations. Goshawk Environmental Consulting is an energetic, results-oriented firm and a valuable member of our team."
-Jonathan V. Gueen, P.E., Senior Project Engineer, Weaver Boos Consultants
Weaver Boos Consultants, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma
Issue: Goshawk conducted a wetland determination/delineation on an approximately 44-acre expansion area for the above landfill. Two open-water palustrine wetlands (totaling about 10 acres) were identified within a portion of the expansion area that was previously mined. Additionally, much of the expansion area was within a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) mapped floodplain.
Action: A letter was submitted to the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Tulsa District, requesting concurrence that the wetlands were not jurisdictional under the Clean Water Act. The letter laid out arguments to support the determination that the wetlands should be considered isolated and, therefore, not jurisdictional, despite their location within mapped floodplain. A field meeting with USACE and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was conducted to evaluate Goshawk’s findings.
Outcome: USACE, with EPA support, issued a concurrence letter agreeing that the wetlands would not be considered jurisdictional under the Clean Water Act.