[Featured image: Me drinking morning coffee and contemplating something before breaking camp during implementation of the Pygmy Rabbit survey in remote northern Nevada, September 2017]

2017 has been a big year for me: it’s my first full year as an independent (since 2010) and I’ve been busy with some of the largest and most exciting projects in my entire career. I was two for two in bidding on and winning interesting and challenging projects outside of the state of California (working on a couple of projects per year outside of my home state is a goal of mine). This year’s “big two” were:

  • an April survey and wildlife assessment for Smith Rock State Park (contracted to the Oregon Parks & Recreation Department);
  • a September and October transect survey for Pygmy Rabbits (Brachylagus idahoensis) on 2,068 acres in Humboldt County, Nevada (contracted to the United States Bureau of Land Management).

The following summarizes my major projects for 2017 and does not include the myriad small projects I’ve completed this year as an on-call biologist for larger firms.

Smith Rock State Park Wildlife Assessment

Spectacular scenery at Smith Rock State Park.

Client:                     Oregon Parks & Recreation Department

Location:               Deschutes County, Oregon

Time Period:        April 2017 to June 2017

I was contracted by the Oregon Parks & Recreation Department to prepare a wildlife assessment report for Smith Rock State Park located in central Oregon. The project required extensive pre-survey research; five field days on-site with over 30 miles of hiking, wildlife and habitat documentation (including remote camera trapping); and preparation of new geospatial data and an extensive report documenting what is known and not known about the wildlife and habitats of the park, with suggestions for future research and management priorities.

Client comments: “Marcus was extremely responsive and thorough. The assessment he developed for Smith Rock State Park exceeded our expectations and will integrate seamlessly into the park master plan.” – Julia Cogger (OPRD)

Owyhee Roads Fuelbreak Project Pygmy Rabbit Survey

Approaching snow squalls during the final full day of the Pygmy Rabbit survey. Weather was one of several challenges during implementation of the survey.

Client:                    United States Bureau of Land Management

Location:               Humboldt County, Nevada

Time Period:        July 2017 to October 2017

I was contracted by the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to conduct surveys for Pygmy Rabbit on 2,068 acres of BLM-managed lands as part of the Owhyee Roads Fuelbreak Project. To implement this project, I brought on two subcontractors and trained them on survey methodology and identification of Pygmy Rabbit sign. The survey was completed over two weeks at the end of September and early October, involving 114 miles of transect walking per surveyor in often adverse weather conditions and over rough terrain. Most field nights were spent camping where the day’s transects ended as the area is remote with bad road conditions and no cellular reception. Final deliverables to the BLM were provided on October 20, including a report, photos, and geospatial data.

Client comments: “Looks fantastic!” – referring to the final report.

Mission Canyon Trailhead Biological Resources Assessment

Chaparral, walnut woodlands, grasslands, and steep terrain on the Mission Canyon Trailhead project.

Client:                     IECG

Location:               Los Angeles County, California

Time Period:        May 2017 to Present

I was retained by IECG to complete a biological resources assessment for a proposed Mountain Recreation and Conservation Authority park in the Santa Monica Mountains of Los Angeles County. I completed a one-day field survey in early July with a botanist and jurisdictional specialist that I retained as a subcontractor. The draft biological resources assessment includes vegetation community mapping, species presence/absence determinations, an analysis of project effects, and proposed mitigation measures.

Biological Resources Assessment for a Water Infrastructure Project

Redshank Chaparral in the vicinity of the project site. This area was investigated as part of the larger study area for the biological resources assessment.

Client:                     As On-Call Staff to Northgate Environmental

Location:               South-central Riverside County, California

Time Period:        March 2017 to May 2017

I was retained by Northgate Environmental (based in the Bay area) as an hourly staff biologist to conduct field surveys and prepare a biological resources assessment analyzing the effects of a proposed water infrastructure project on biological resources. The resulting document has been completed. I am also part of the team reviewing other environmental documentation for the project.

Biological Surveys and Permitting for a Residential Development

Woolly Blue Curls (Trichostema lanatum) on the subject property for this residential project.

Client:                     West LA Consulting

Location:               Los Angeles County, California

Time Period:        May 2017 to Present

I have been retained by West LA Consulting to take over biological surveys and permitting documentation related to construction of an estate-sized home on 40 acres in the Santa Monica Mountains. Work thus far has involved two field surveys, the addition of a botanist to the team, and correspondence with the County biologist on review of the report prepared by the previous consultant, which I am in the process of rewriting.

Ventura Estates Plaza ā€“ Coastal Sage Scrub Mitigation

A Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) on the Ventura Estates Plaza project site.

Client:                     Academy Road, LLC

Location:               Ventura County, California

Time Period:        June 2017 to August 2017

I completed a series of site visits, surveys, and reports documenting the extent of potential “take” of coastal sage scrub (comprising habitat for California Gnatcatchers [Polioptila californica] nesting off-site) by a proposed shopping center. I assisted the client in developing appropriate mitigation measures and documenting certain aspects of project implementation for the City of Thousand Oaks. The project is currently under construction.

Agoura Park Project ā€“ Nesting Bird Surveys

A Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) on the Agoura Park project site.

Client:                     Selleck Development

Location:               Los Angeles County, California

Time Period:        April 2017 to June 2017

I completed a series of nesting bird surveys prior to the initiation of construction of the Agoura Park Project located in Agoura Hills, Los Angeles County. The surveys included documentation of nest locations, establishment of nest buffers, and completion of a report for reviewing agencies.

Colonial Waterbird Nesting Survey

One of many roosting Black-crowned Night-Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax) found during the survey.

Client:                     Marina Harbor Apartments & Anchorage

Location:               Los Angeles County, California

Time Period:        September 2017

I completed surveys for the client’s compliance with Policy No. 34, the Marina del Rey Leasehold Tree Pruning and Tree Removal Policy. The policy describes procedures for avoidance of impacts to nesting colonial waterbirds due to tree maintenance activities. The procedures include the completion of a nest survey prior to tree maintenance activities.

Commercial Property Nesting Raptor Survey

Orange County commercial property surveyed for nesting birds.

Client:                     SINGOD Investors, LLC

Location:               Orange County, California

Time Period:        February 2017

I completed nesting bird surveys prior to the initiation of construction of a commercial project located in Orange County. The survey included completion of a report for reviewing agencies.