Inflation Alert! ETS Fines Have Increased

  Robins are one of many species protected by the MBTA photo credit: American Robin (Turdus migratorius) by mdf via Wikimedia Commons

In the February 12, 2018 Federal Register the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) issued a final rule that increased the fines and penalties for impacting endangered and threatened species (ETS).  The USFWS periodically adjusts these fines for inflation, in accordance with the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 2015.  Please remember that impacts to endangered and threatened species are costly and can derail your project schedule and budget, and must be considered for any projects requiring a federal or state action – like wetlands permits, FEMA approvals, funding, etc.  

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It’s Almost Pogonia Season!

  small whorled pogonia

small whorled pogonia

Summer is on its way and Wetland Studies and Solutions is gearing up for another season of small whorled pogonia (Isotria medeoloides) surveys.  If your Virginia or North Carolina project sites host mature hardwood forest with an open understory, you can minimize impacts to your project schedule by having Wetland Studies and Solutions perform a small whorled pogonia habitat evaluation or survey early in the development process.  

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SAVe Yourself A Headache

  water stargrass

water stargrass

The recommended survey windows are approaching for submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV).  If you are working on a project that impacts tidal waters – such as boat piers, docks, marinas, or channel dredging – you are likely required to document the presence or absence of SAV on your project site to determine whether compensatory mitigation is required.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Chesapeake Bay Office recommends two windows for conducting field surveys:  May 15 through June 15, and July 15 through September 15.  These two windows allow surveyors to locate different species that may only be present during these timeframes.  

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Yellow Lance Mussel Now Listed as Threatened

  example of suitable mussel habitat

example of suitable mussel habitat

On April 2, 2018, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced that the yellow lance mussel (Elliptio lanceolata) will be formally listed as federally threatened under the Endangered Species Act.  The yellow lance has been a species of concern since 1991 when it was first reviewed by the USFWS.  The threatened species listing takes effect on May 3, 2018 which means your projects must now take extra care to avoid impacting the yellow lance mussel, because a knowing violation of the Endangered Species Act will result in hefty ETS fines.

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Have you Spotted the Spotted Lanternfly?

  spotted lanternfly

spotted lanternfly

The Virginia Cooperative Extension is asking for your help in identifying and reporting any sightings of the spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) and its eggs.  This invasive pest is a threat to Virginia’s hops, grapes, and peaches, and has also been found on ornamental plants.  Tree-of-Heaven and grapevine are favorite host plants, and adult spotted lanternfly will lay eggs on any vertical smooth surface  – not only on smooth-bark tree trunks, but also on cars and other smooth surfaces that are mobile.  The species can be spread long distances by humans as we move infested material or inadvertently transport egg masses.  

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