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Expertise and Services

As our clients ask us to do more, as the times demand more, we offer more. It’s a logical progression. Ecosystem Sciences uses sound science coupled with innovative design and state of the art technology on each project.

Our services are provided within a carefully developed and maintained framework of client relationship, innovation and operational excellence. This enables us to act as trusted advisors, to push the limits of creativity, and to deliver consistently high levels of performance.

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Environmental Flows


How much water does a river need to maintain its ecological integrity?  Our scientists pioneered the concept of multiple flow regimes to maintain geo-fluvial processes, fisheries habitat, riparian systems and channel morphology.  We continue to advance environmental flow concepts with new techniques that merge hydrologic and terrain models to create 3-dimensional analysis of flows.  Ecosystem Sciences identifies all the flow regimes necessary to maintain or enhance environmental values.

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Integrated Regional Water Management

Management of watersheds and water resources is often an “unintentional” system that evolved over time from overlapping jurisdictions, contradictory goals, and competing needs within and between watersheds.  Sorting these inefficient and archaic systems to restore intelligent watershed and water resource management is achieved through integrated planning.  We develop integrated regional watershed management plans through a step-wise process beginning with stakeholder input, assimilation of existing data and watershed plans, identification of key watershed issues, determination of appropriate solutions, and GAP analysis to cover watershed areas and issues not addressed in existing plans.  The completed IRWM plan stitches together and integrates existing plans into seamless management actions based on common goals and objectives.

Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) is a collaborative effort to manage all aspects of water resources in a region. IRWM crosses jurisdictional, watershed, and political boundaries; involves multiple agencies, stakeholders, individuals, and groups; and attempts to address the issues and differing perspectives of all the entities involved through mutually beneficial solutions.

Our design components of an IRWMP often include:

  • Maximize stakeholder and community involvement and stewardship
  • Effectively obtain, manage, and assess water resources data and information
  • Further the scientific and technical foundation of water management
  • Develop and maintain a diverse mix of water resources
  • Construct, operate, and maintain a reliable infrastructure system
  • Reduce the negative effects on waterways and watershed health caused by hydromodification and flooding
  • Effectively reduce sources of pollutants and environmental stressors
  • Protect, restore, and maintain habitat and open space
  • Optimize water-based recreational opportunities
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Watershed Inventory and Planning

Water is the most critical resource of our time.  Competition for this limited resource is constantly increasing.  In geographic areas when development is on the rise, the demand for water surges.  Water is a limited commodity and “mining” of aquifers, diversion of surface waters, inefficient agriculture practices, municipal demands, industrial or waste pollution all contribute to the loss or degradation of the resource even as demand increases.  Ecosystem Sciences recognizes the need to conserve, protect and share water, and we initiate our watershed planning with an inventory of the resources that are critical to groundwater recharge and surface water flow and the landscape uses that positively or adversely affect water.  We then work with stakeholders to develop plans for the restoration of degraded watershed elements, ways to conserve water through improved irrigation, grazing, or other land use practices, and sustainable uses to meet future demands.

As awareness of how human habitation practices have altered the natural environment grows, so does the need for coordinated, science-based ecological restoration planning. What is the current health of our streams, wetlands, forests and grasslands?  How can we improve their health and functioning while respecting the realities of the historic changes and our modern human needs for water, shelter, and security? What physical, biological, and social opportunities or constraints are present? What information is needed to design and implement well-reasoned, effectual, cost-efficient ecological restoration and conservation projects? These questions guide and inform our watershed planning and research work.
Our science and planning team includes experts that are well versed in both conservation science and collaborative planning. The multi-disciplinary team takes a holistic approach to solving ecological restoration questions. Our planning products are rooted in science, community relationships, and implementation design practicalities.


Services provided by the watershed planning and research group include:

  • Watershed assessment and research – geomorphic, fisheries habitat, biology, water quality, hydrology, erosion inventory, forestry, water supply and conservation, GIS mapping.
  • Ecological restoration program design and implementation.
  • Community facilitation; including public meetings, stakeholder committees, and technical working groups.
  • Watershed plan development; including prioritized actions, implementation strategies, funding opportunities.
  • Website content development for environmental planning and education.
  • Grant writing.
  • Natural resource conservation techniques and plans.
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GIS –Mapping, Modeling, Analysis, Planning

A picture is worth a thousand words and mapping landforms, landtypes, vegetation, and specific habitats using our Geographic Information System(s) often eliminates the need for lengthy text discussions.  Consequently, our reports and data analysis are visually oriented, relying upon high-quality mapping to illustrate key points and some conclusions.  This approach makes our documents user-friendly and easily understood by the non-scientist or planner.  GIS techniques also provide landscape to site scale connectivity and allows us to maintain continuity and context throughout our watershed work.

Spatial viewing of information through a Geographic Information System (GIS) provides a truly hands-on approach to discussing ecosystem management and impacts of human activities on physical and biological systems; it is why spatial data analysis underlies all of our projects.
 

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Environmental Design, and Planning

At Ecosystem Sciences we view the built environment, architecture, design and planning as tools inextricably tied to urban and rural ecosystems which make-up the watershed.  We take architecture away from the conventional or traditional sense and apply the principles of community, networks, and connectivity between the urban and rural environment in our watershed planning and restoration work.  The core philosophy at Ecosystem Sciences is that humans are fundamental to watersheds; the keystone species which determines how sustainably or unsustainably watershed resources are used.  Thus, the urban ecosystems are integral to the total watershed condition and use and are central to planning and restoration.  

Increasing urban development, threatened aquatic population levels, and ever-tightening budget constraints demand restoration efforts that are well designed and implemented. We employ a performance-led approach to process-based restoration planning and implementation that includes:

  • Watershed and corridor planning (at various spatial scales and including limiting factor analyses)
  • Improving stream network connectivity (including levee setbacks and barrier/dam removal)
  • Improving habitat diversity and function (including riparian/wetland revegetation, gravel augmentation, and habitat enhancement)
  • Monitoring and evaluation with measureable success criteria and adaptive management


We identify the watershed-specific context, the limiting physical and biological conditions, the biological performance criteria, a prioritized suite of measures best suited to restore natural ecologic function, and a monitoring strategy to ensure the long-term achievement of management goals. The result is a recommendation for restoration that is tailored to the specific needs of the watershed and site, taking into account both historical and future conditions. Capitalizing on the diversity of our expertise and experience, our restoration projects incorporate watershed-scale understanding of the physical and biological context, natural recovery, habitat structure and diversity, and the specific needs of critical or endangered species.

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Sustainable Urbanism and Urban Ecology

 

 

Urban ecology and sustainable building and infrastructure are rapidly developing fields at the intersection of architecture and urban planning, engineering, public administration and environmental concerns. Urban Ecology is the synthesis of urban planning, architecture and landscape architecture combined with sustainable practices of ecologically-sensitive development and natural resource protection. The role of cities and positive urbanism in shaping more sustainable places, communities, and lifestyles is very important. Cities and communities must be substantially expanded to incorporate ecology and more ecologically responsible forms of living and settlement.

The field of ecological urbanism encompasses the practice of creating sustainable urban environments through the implementation of green infrastructure that originates in ecologically-sound urban planning, resource conservation and the use of innovative building typologies and sustainable methodologies. The demand for sustainable design is rising in a world where designers are increasingly being asked to face the challenge of incorporating sustainable development practices in a conventionally driven construction economy.

With most of the world's people living in cities for the first time in history, how we plan our land and design our built environments is more significant than ever. Our expertise is rooted in the land and its relation to the built form. We seek first to understand the unique challenges and opportunities of a project; its goals; any regulatory drivers; and community perspectives. Regardless of the need at hand, our multidisciplinary teams have the expertise to provide solutions that meet our clients' needs while achieving physical, economic, ecological, and social sustainability.

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Field Research, Monitoring and Data Analysis

Plant community dynamics are more completely understood when combined with the hydrologic and geomorphic information that shapes the underlying physical habitat (soil, water table, chemistry, and disturbance regime). We provide the following services:

  • Mapping of riparian habitat
  • Modeling of riparian-vegetation dynamics
  • Revegetation, restoration, and habitat planning
  • Habitat plan development and implementation
  • Development of invasive weed/non-native species control measures
  • Rare plant surveys and monitoring
  • Jurisdictional wetland delineation and Section 404 permitting


We use this interdisciplinary approach to design restoration and management plans that maximize native plant diversity and long-term sustainability, including predicting and planning for impacts of climate change. We develop monitoring schemes that reveal the causes, rather than just the outcomes, of project performance and use spatially explicit models of site conditions and processes to help analyze different restoration scenarios, predict riparian vegetation recruitment, and develop effective revegetation designs and mitigation measures. Vegetation analyses can be combined with fish and wildlife habitat requirements to plan restoration and management actions that benefit the overall ecosystem.

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Analysis of Species Habitats

Threatened and/or endangered species are typically isolated in small remnant (meta) populations within ecotypes.  Species are able to persist in these habitats because essential life-stage habitat requirements are met.  The degree to which meta-populations are at risk is a function of how the surrounding landscape is used.  Unsustainable resource extraction (water diversion, groundwater pumping, deforestation, mining, etc.), threaten the continued existence of these hotspots and the T&E species dependent upon them.  Ecosystem Sciences analyzes hotspots from the perspective of the greater ecosystem and how on-going resource utilization directly or indirectly increases risk.  We then design buffer zones, set-backs, or sanctuaries to protect and enhance, and ideally expand, hotspots.

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Habitat Conservation Plans

Large landowners often seek relief from limitations to land uses imposed by threatened and endangered species laws.  The forest and grazing industry, water purveyors, mining companies, and other resource extraction businesses recognize that habitat conservation plans create a method to protect T&E species while giving them sufficient relief for many years.  The intent of an HCP is to create a win-win situation.  Ecosystem Sciences works with the landowner to determine which is the best HCP approach for them; Safe Harbor, Low Effect, and/or No Surprises.  Our scientists work closely with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the state fish and game agencies to develop the best plan for the landowner.

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Freshwater Fisheries


Restoration of rivers and streams has many benefits and beneficiaries, yet public interest often focuses on the most tangible benefits - especially improved fishing.  At the outset of planning for the restoration of a watershed and its streams, Ecosystem Sciences, through focus groups, has learned that one overriding expectation is a better coldwater or warmwater or anadromous fishery.  Our biologist have restored or created some of the finest freshwater fisheries in the West.  The Owens River Gorge supports one of the best brown trout streams in the West with trout densities of 3,000 trout per mile, a 7 fish/hour catch rate, with trout 12 to 24 inches.  Other projects have enhanced spawning and rearing habitat for salmon and steelhead throughout the Columbia River basin.  Our work to protect or enhance freshwater fisheries habitat has taken us to the Mekong River, the Ganges River, and Nile River basins.  

Supporting and maintaining self-sustaining fish populations

From declining native fish populations to competing claims for water, water issues affect everyone. We address issues related to river and watershed ecology; most of our projects have the overall objective of restoring and maintaining healthy, sustainable, fish populations and aquatic ecosystems. This includes:

  • Fish distribution and abundance surveys (snorkel, seine, electrofish, etc.)
  • Limiting Factors Analyses
  • Habitat use
  • Habitat/life-stage based models
  • Rapid bioassessment protocols
  • Instream flow/habitat assessment (IFIM, PHABSIM)
  • Criteria-based instream habitat mapping


In addition to our comprehensive understanding of fish ecology, we also focus on how aquatic organisms interact with their physical environment by examining the linkages between habitat structure and the physical processes shaping this habitat. This approach allows us to provide sound solutions to complicated aquatic management problems, including challenges related to  effective management strategies at scales ranging from small urban streams to large valley watersheds and deltas.

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