Fall is finally underway, and WES has been busy. Restoration construction is almost complete at Bullock Bend and Tule Red, two exciting conservation projects in Northern California made possible through the hard work and collaborative efforts of our partners. Nicolas Ranch VELB Conservation Bank in California, and Big Sandy II Mitigation Bank in Alabama are approved, adding to the types and locations of credits offered to our clients. We've also welcomed two new employees: one to our Southeast Regional office, and one to our growing Rocky Mountain Regional office.

In our 10th year, we are grateful to reflect on the partners who have made our 21st bank possible. We're also looking ahead to the fall season which brings the promise of rains, river flows and new life for our conservation lands and the species they support.

Our new website, which includes many updated features, launched earlier this month. Be sure to visit for updates and news on our restoration projects.

Sincerely,
 


Greg Sutter
Executive Vice President
APPROVED: Big Sandy II Mitigation Bank
 
With the recent approval of Big Sandy Mitigation Bank Phase II (BSMB2) in Alabama, we've added 73 additional conservation acres. The new bank is directly adjacent to the existing 1,060-acre Big Sandy Mitigation Bank (BSMB, approved in 2009). Combined the two banks protect a stretch of over four miles on both sides of Big Sandy Creek and South Sandy Creek, re-establishing the full ecological potential of this ecosystem through 11.8 miles of riparian buffer restoration/enhancement. BSMB2 is located in southern Tuscaloosa  County, Alabama, within the Black Warrior-Tombigbee basin and Lower Black Warrior watershed.   The bank offers stream credits.

We would like to once again thank our friends at the Freshwater Landtrust for holding the Conservation Easement for BSMB2 (also Holder on BSMB).

To learn more about Big Sandy I and II and available credits contact Kelly Sands at (850) 661-4292, ksands@westervelt.com or Casey Rigsby at (334) 821-1999, crigsby@westervelt.com.
Grand Opening of Bullock Bend Mitigation Bank

Our much anticipated grand opening celebration for the newly approved Bullock Bend Mitigation Bank on the Sacramento River in Yolo County, California, was held September 27. The event was an opportunity to honor the collaborative efforts of over a dozen federal, state and local agencies which has made this restoration of key floodplain habitat a reality. Our work could not happen without their contributions of time, technical support, and expertise. Members of the inter-agency team joined WES to receive awards of appreciation, and observe the inaugural breech of the farm berm, restoring connectivity between the river and its floodplain on the southern side of the property.

Our executive vice president Greg Sutter put it best when he stated during the ceremony, "It is exciting to live in a time where we're doing positive collaborative projects. We're all part of this system and we have to work together. It's not easy to deliver habitat-it takes patience, persistence, and the full community."

Breaching the farm berm to reconnect the Sacramento River to the floodplain.
For over 20 years the Bullock Bend property has been identified as an ideal location for restoration within the Colusa-to-Verona section along the Sacramento River, and provides needed support to  the recovery of many threatened and endangered species including: Sacramento River win ter-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon, and threatened California Central Valley steelhead, all managed by National Marine Fisheries Service. 

"Restoration in the 
 Bullock Bend Mitigation Bank directly addresses several of the highest ranked threats to multiple federally-listed salmon and steelhead species in the Sacramento River, and we expect juvenile rearing and migration will improve as a result," said Howard Brown, Chief of the NMFS Sacramento River Basin Branch. "Projects such as this are critical to further the recovery of endangered and threatened salmon and steelhead in the Central Valley." 

Project partners receiving awards of appreciation
The (119.65) 116.15-acres of newly restored floodplain will increase riparian cover, provide a refuge for migrating juvenile salmon and steelhead, and protect and enhance over one linear mile of existing riverbank while providing flood storage during high water events.  We are looking forward to documenting the return of out-migrating salmonids in newly constructed alcoves and backwater channels and the growth of native oak trees on the higher elevations and willow and cottonwood in the lower and wetter riparian areas as the land returns to its historic natural processes. 
 
WES has partnered with Ducks Unlimited to hold the conservation easement for the bank, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for the endowment. The property will be protected and managed by WES. Bullock Bend will provide credits for impacts to salmonids, Swainson's hawk nesting buffer, other waters of the U.S. and riparian habitat for the Sacramento Valley region.

To learn more about Bullock Bend and available credits contact Travis Hemmen at (916) 646-3644 or themmen@westervelt.com.
Groundbreaking Ceremony for Tule Red Tidal Restoration Project
One of the most exciting moments for WES this fall was attending the September 19 groundbreaking ceremony for the Tule Red Tidal Restoration project, the largest tidal wetland restoration project in the Delta. The project is a joint effort by the State and Federal Contractors Water Agency (SFCWA) and Department of Water Resources (DWR) to assist DWR in meeting existing U.S. Endangered Species Act permit requirements to restore 8,000 acres of tidal wetlands in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and 800 acres of tidal wetlands in or around the Suisun Marsh.
 
The ceremony was attended by local, state, federal and private industry leaders. Keynote speakers included Bryon Buck and Jason Peltier of SFCWA, Mark Cowin of DWR, Steve Chappell of Suisun Resource Conservation District, Chuck Bonham of California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and John Laird of California Natural Resources Agency.  WES currently owns the property and will provide the restoration design and oversee the construction of restoring over 400 acres of wetlands to daily tides for the benefit of native fish. 
 
John Laird, California Natural Resources Agency Secretary spoke from the heart during his speech, stating, "Human intervention altered the Delta profoundly over the last 150 years, and with projects like Tule Red, we can intervene to turn back the clock. When we welcome tides back to a few hundred acres of Suisun Marsh, we reverse the trends that eliminated 95 percent of the tidal wetlands in the Bay-Delta, the largest estuary in the Western Hemisphere."
 
The restoration project will involve breaching a natural berm to allow for full daily tidal exchange through the interior of the project site and creation of a network of channels to convey water across the marsh plain. The project is designed to provide habitat for Delta smelt, longfin smelt, and chinook salmon and other native fishes, as well as to reestablish ecological processes that will improve the food resources available to native fish species.
 
The Tule Red project will advance several important goals, including those of the California EcoRestore program, which seeks to get at least 30,000 acres of habitat restoration underway in the Delta before Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. leaves office in 2018.  It will also support the California's Delta Smelt Resiliency Strategy to improve the survival and reproduction of the threatened fish species endemic to the Delta.  WES will guide the restoration design and construction of the site, then assist in turning the management over to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which will manage it with State Water Project funding from DWR.
APPROVED: Nicolaus Ranch VELB Conservation Bank
We are happy to announce the approval of Nicolaus Ranch VELB Conservation Bank, located in Sacramento County, California adjacent to the Cosumnes River Preserve. This 38-acre bank will expand the footprint of permanently protected riparian habitat along the Cosumnes River, restoring an agricultural field back to its native riparian habitat for the benefit of the federally threatened Valley elderberry longhorn beetle (VELB) (Desmocerus californicus dimorphus) and other species. The VELB is dependent on its host plant, elderberry (Sambucus species), which occurs in riparian and other woodland and scrub communities. The site is ideally located for VELB conservation due to its location within the conservation landscape and its proximity to other riparian restoration sites.
Valley elderberry longhorn beetle (VELB) (Desmocerus californicus dimorphus)
 
The bank's restoration goal is to create VELB habitat by planting the site with elderberry and other native riparian trees and shrubs. The planting plan has been guided by soils and hydrology to maximize elderberry clustering, and riparian restoration success. Over time, the planted areas of the bank will mature, regenerate, and create sustainable VELB habitat.
 
A number of financial assurances have been implemented to ensure the performance and continued viability of the bank. The Conservation Easement is held by the Sacramento Valley Conservancy and the Endowment Fund is managed by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Perpetual stewardship of the bank will be financed by the Endowment Fund account dedicated to the monitoring, management, and maintenance of the site.
 
Nicolaus Ranch will provide federal regulatory solutions for project permit applications involving impacts to elderberry shrubs. Credits are currently available and the site is designed to accept VELB transplants in the service area, which is identified by U.S. Fish and Wildlife as Shasta County on the north to Merced and Mariposa County on the south.
 
To learn more about the bank and available credits contact Travis Hemmen at (916) 646-3644 or themmen@westervelt.com.
 
In celebration of our 10 year anniversary WES has launched a new website at wesmitigation.com. The site features a streamlined design to showcase our projects and share the latest in restoration news with our clients and partners.

In addition, WES has added a new feature; an interactive/searchable map enabling users to easily navigate our banks and available credits. Take a look around and be sure to follow us on social media as we continue to add to the conservation landscape.
Casey Rigsby Joins the WES Team
Casey Rigsby
Casey Rigsby is our Mitigation Markets Representative for our Southeast Regional office, in Auburn, Alabama. His primary responsibilities include planning and conducting outreach in Alabama to assist clients with their mitigation requirements.
 
Prior to joining WES, Casey specialized in business development and account management in the Auburn area, with over a decade of experience in sales, networking, and building business portfolios.

Casey received his B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting and Supply Chain Management from Auburn University. His interests include wildlife conservation, hunting waterfowl, spending time with his family, and outdoor activities.
Carla DeMasters Joins the WES Team
Carla DeMasters
Carla DeMasters has joined WES as a GIS Analyst and Restoration Ecologist in our Rocky Mountain Region office in Englewood, Colorado. H er responsibilities include analyzing geographic databases to provide decision-making information in the form of maps, models and reports for key personnel. Carla also assists in the planning, design, and execution of habitat restoration for WES's Rocky Mountain Region projects. She has over a decade of experience in GIS, spatial data analysis, quantitative vegetation studies, vegetation mapping, plant ecology, restoration ecology and wetlands.
 
Prior to joining WES, Carla worked in the environmental consulting industry, where she provided GIS support for National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and energy industry projects throughout the western U.S., and led several large scale wetland delineation and permitting projects in accordance with Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Most recently, Carla was a Graduate Research Assistant at the Denver Botanic Gardens where she provided technical expertise and oversight for riparian restoration projects.
 
Carla received a master's degree in Geography with a focus on Biogeography and GIS from the University of Colorado Boulder and has a second Master's degree in Biology with a focus on Restoration Ecology forthcoming from the University of Colorado Denver. She is a Certified Wetland Professional in Training (WPIT) with the Society of Wetland Scientists. Through over a decade of experience conducting ecological field studies for large scale mining projects throughout the western U.S., she has become highly skilled in the identification of native plants of the Great Plains, Southern Rocky Mountains, Colorado Plateau and Central Basin and Range regions. She is also an avid fly fisher.



     
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