Georgia Environmental Restoration Association
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May 2015
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GERA currently represents 16 Bankers, 6 Consultants, 6 Professionals,  5 Non-Profit Organizations, and 7 Government Entities.

2014-2015 Board of Directors
Greg Smith, President
Trey Evans, Secretary/Treasurer
Rick Whiteside
Phillip Todd
Aaron McWhorter
Brian Estes
Matt Peevy
Larry Jordan

View All Current Members

Upcoming Events...

Next GERA Board of Directors Meeting - May 13, 2015 (Lawrenceville, GA)

Regulatory Boot Camp -
April/May 2015 (Various Locations)

Natural Resources Conservation Workshop 
June 7 - 11, 2015 (Tifton, GA)
Stay up to date with GERA by visiting our calendar and blog.

Our Mission

GERA is a collaboration of mitigation bankers, environmental consultants, engineers, contractors, and other professionals that are active in Georgia's ecosystem restoration marketplace.
The association seeks to promote:
(I) High quality ecosystem restoration through regulatory standards and scientific research;
(II) A commercial mitigation banking industry that is both environmentally and financially sustainable;
(III) Any local, State, or Federal legislation that is consistent with this mission.

GERA News & Events

Welcome New Members!

GERA welcomes the Pelican Coast Conservancy to the association.
Urban Atlanta Wetland: Restoration & Recovery of Monkey-faced Orchid

In 2014, GERA partnered with the Atlanta Botanical Garden through the Five Star Restoration Program to aid in the restoration and recovery of Monkey-faced orchid (Platanthera integrilabia) within urban wetland systems. GERA made a $2500 donation and agreed to provide volunteer assistance for project efforts.  A GERA volunteer workday was held in October of 2014 at the Sawnee Mountain Preserve in Cumming, Georgia. Volunteers helped clean up debris and trash as well as clear thick brush in the area in order to prepare for the transplant of the orchid to this location. 

To read more about the project CLICK HERE.

Below is a photo of the plaque provided to all the partners involved in the project. 

Articles from the Environmental Industry...

Mitigation Banker Spotlight

Georgia Power Company (Bundt Tract)

Provided By:
Brian Estes, Environmental Specialist

Georgia Power Company (GPC) joined GERA to stay current on the mitigation banking industry regulations as well as marketplace trends. In 2003, GPC began exploring options in mitigation banking due to changes in regulation and the increased demand for mitigation needs.  GPC conducted a cost/benefit analysis and determined that creating a bank would be beneficial for the Company in the long-term.  To date, GPC owns one mitigation bank, the Bundt Tract.

GPC created the single-user Bundt Tract Mitigation Bank to service any impacts within the Middle Chattahoochee River Watershed. The Bundt Tract was established in 2008 and abuts the Chattahoochee River in Heard County, Georgia.  Historically, the property was open pasture with a network of ditching to drain water from the site for associated land use activities.  The project successfully preserved and restored 9,375 linear feet of stream and 102.3 acres of wetland, riparian buffer, and upland buffer producing 27,402 stream and 150.46 wetland credits.  All post-construction monitoring, with success criteria met, has been completed and final credits were released in 2012.  The Bundt Tract is known for its above average success of planted sapling and tree growth. The Bank also provides great habitat for a variety of wildlife including migratory birds, duck, and deer.  The Bundt Tract is managed by GPC Environmental Affairs, Biological Services Group, with Brian Estes serving as the primary contact point.

Brian Estes is an Environmental Specialist within GPC's Biological Services Group.  Brian's day-to-day responsibilities include Section 404 delineations and permitting for transmission, distribution, and generation projects. Brian also serves as the mitigation liaison/specialist for the group.  In his spare time, Brian enjoys spending time with his nine year old daughter, whom is very active in soccer, music, Girl Scouts, and church activities.

Waters of the US (WOUS) Rule Definition Update

Written By: Rick Whiteside, CorBlu Ecology Group

In April 2014 the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) proposed a “new rule” which would significantly modify how WOUS would be determined.  The justification for the revised definition was based on 2 principal drivers: 1) provide regulatory clarity to the WOUS definition which has been complicated by the U.S. Supreme Court’s (USSC) Rapanos split decision and other USSC rulings (i.e., Riverside Bayview Homes and Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County); and 2) EPA’s Office of Research and Development’s 2013 report entitled Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence. 
Public comments were solicited by the EPA and USACE, in which the public comment period was extended several times, which allowed the public approximately 7 months to submit comments.  Also over 400 public information meetings across the U.S. were hosted by the EPA and USACE in which the proposed WOUS rule was explained and clarified.During these meetings the public was encouraged to ask questions and provide comments on the proposed rule.  Over 1 million formal-written comments were submitted and received, where approximately 20,000 (2%) were considered “unique comments” by the EPA. Also over 400 public information meetings across the U.S. were hosted by the EPA and USACE in which the proposed WOUS rule was explained and clarified.  

The EPA and USACE are currently in the process of reviewing and considering these comments.  It is understood these agencies are expected to make some adjustments to the proposed rule based on these comments, but the specificity and extent of these adjustments is unknown. Once these adjustments are complete, the EPA and USACE will coordinate other collaborating federal agencies (e.g., U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, others) before submitting the “draft” Final Rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for the required economic and management performance/implication review.  Following a favorable or consistency determination from OMB, the “Final Rule” will be published in the Federal Register. It is understood that the EPA and USACE have a tentative target of late spring 2015 for the publication of the Final Rule.  
In the News...
USFWS Protects Local Bat Under Endangered Species Act
The USFWS announced April 1st it is protecting the northern long-eared bat as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, primarily due to the threat posed by white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that has devastated many bat populations.  At the same time, the Service issued an interim special rule that eliminates unnecessary regulatory requirements for land owners, land managers, government agencies, and others in the range of the northern long-eared bat.

To read more, CLICK HERE

Source: Perryville News (Crystal Lyeria)
GA Introduces New Drought Rule

While currently not with drought conditions, the DNR has updated the drought rule which determines how droughts are declared and what actions are taken when they do.  

To read more about the updates CLICK HERE.

Source: 90.1 FM WABE, Atlanta's NPR Station
Protecting Imperiled Plant Species is Focus for National Group Meeting in Athens

A national organization known as the Center for Plant Conservation gathered for a four day meeting in Athens, Georgia. The group is made up of botanical gardens and similar organizations from across the United States with a common mission to protect endangered/rare plant species in their areas. CLICK HERE to read more about the group, their objectives, and what they have accomplished.

Source: Online Athens
Habitat Restoration Brings Back Oregon Chub

The Oregon Chub is a small minnow that lives only in the Willamette River Valley Watershed. After a 23-year campaign, the Oregon Chub is the first fish ever to be removed from the Endangered Species List due to a resurgence in numbers.  CLICK HERE to read how farmers, land owners, and biologists combined efforts to restore habitat within the Willamette River Valley Watershed in support of Oregon Chub recovery.

Source: Karina Brown, Courthouse News Service
Wetland Mitigation Banking Arrives in the Big Apple
In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, New York City decided to build up it's resiliency devoting funds to green infrastructure projects and coastal restoration activities. One of these initiatives is the Saw Mill Creek Mitigation Bank (pictured above), which if all goes as planned, will become New York City's first wetland mitigation bank. 

To read the article on Saw Mill Creek Mitigation Bank CLICK HERE.

Source: Kelli Barrett, Ecosystem Marketplace
Old Golf Courses Become a New Kind of Wilderness
Golf Courses have closed down across the country during the recession. In most cases, neighbors don't want the land developed. Outsiders, whether government or private, have agreed restoration projects are a great alternative for the properties.  Surrounding landowners tend to like the open space, views, and associated recreational opportunities (fishing) the restored areas provide. 

CLICK HERE to read the interview conducted by Lewis Wallace (Morning Marketplace) with Michael Enright of Five Rivers Metro Parks (Dayton, Ohio).
Our Mailing Address:
Georgia Environmental Restoration Association
PO Box 76549. Atlanta. Georgia. 30358

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