Biological Impact Assessment
Any change in land use is going to impact existing conditions. Penn’s Trail Environmental, LLC responds to specific municipal and state requirements by providing biological impact assessments to clients as needed. An impact assessment includes an inventory of the plants and animals living on a site and an opinion of the impacts a proposed project will have on the environments and their inhabitants. Biological Impact Assessments are separated into three efforts:
Review of published information relating to natural resources
A physical evaluation of the existing site conditions
An analysis of our findings and identification of potential impacts as a result of the proposed land use
The focus of these studies is to determine whether impacts are beneficial, neutral, or detrimental in both the short and long term on the environmental conditions on a community-wide basis. If irreversible impacts are identified, they are evaluated against the potential of equal or greater benefits from changes being proposed.
The purpose of these studies is to assess existing surface water quality as a function of its biological community and project impacts of the proposed activities of the aquatic environment. Studies are required by regulatory agencies where disturbances to surface waters are proposed such as stream crossings or stream re-location or for storm-water or treated sewage discharges.
Macroinvertebrates (aquatic insects that are visible without magnification) generally react and recover relatively quickly to watercourse impacts and are therefore reliable indicators of water quality. Sampling locations and intervals are individually designed by our staff biologist to best address our clients’ needs. We submit required reports to the proper agency with oversight for the particular permitting or approval process.
Protected Plant & Animal Studies
Protected Species studies are conducted for projects where one or more protected or endangered plant or animal species has been identified by a search of the Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory (PNDI) database. The PNDI request to the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program (PNHP) reviews state, local, and federal databases to determine whether any threatened or endangered speciesare known or suspected in the vicinity of the project site. This step provides an excellent early indicator of significant known issues and should be performed early in the project’s timeline.
To resolve potential conflicts it is sometimes necessary to conduct field investigations to determine the presence of habitat of the species of concern. We coordinate all project interaction among the agencies with jurisdiction in order to resolve the conflict including ways to avoid impacting sensitive areas. Agencies with whom we work include the PA Game Commission (PAGC), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE), PA Fish & Boat Commission, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) , PA Dept. of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR), and the PADEP.