Below are a couple projects I've worked on. From time to time I'll change and update which projects are showcased. I'll try and keep a mix of old and current, and hopefully interesting ones. Of course, if you'd like to know more or have any questions, contact me.
Cannoncito and Alamo Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Surveys and Biological Assessment
Cannoncito and Alamo Reservations, Navajo Nation, New Mexico
The Bureau of Indian Affairs is conducting noxious weed removal within hundreds of miles of drainages across Cannoncito and Alamo on Navajo Nation. Prior to the noxious weed removal, southwestern willow flycatcher surveys and a Biological Assessment were required.
Seven sites were surveyed for flycatchers following the USFWS protocol. At three of these sites, migrating flycatchers were identified using patches of tamarisk and Russian olive. AtoZec authored a Biological Assessment detailing the survey results, potential impacts to flycatchers, potential impacts or no impacts to numerous USFWS listed and Navajo Nation listed species, and provided recommended conservation measures. All wildlife observed was recorded for the Biological Assessment.
As part of Section 7 consultation and coordination with the client, USFWS, BIA, and Navajo Nation, the Biological Assessment was approved and conservation measures enacted to protect the flycatcher. The project has been a joy to work on with the wonderful people of Navajo Nation and beautiful remote lands of the project areas.
Patagonia Mountains - Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Mexican Spotted Owl, Northern Goshawk, Bird Nest, and Aquatic Species Surveys
AtoZec conducted yearly surveys in the Patagonia Mountains, a sky island of southern Arizona, as a subcontractor. Eric would lead up to six biologists, depending the survey, over 100 miles of rugged, off-trail transects within pine-oak woodland canyons and Forest Service roads .
Cuckoo surveys were performed following the USFWS protocol. The surveys tallied hundreds of aural and visual detections, numerous behaviors, and a multitude of breeding pairs and nests. The surveys were significant in detecting cuckoos in previously undescribed habitat, which was then added to the USFWS Critical Habitat for the species. AtoZec continually trained the client's new biologists in proper survey techniques, navigation in remote areas, and safety protocols in remote areas.
Mexican spotted owl surveys were conducted following the USFWS protocol They included over 50 call points each year, as well as monitoring owl roosts. Previously unknown owls and offspring were identified. Owls were detected aurally during evening surveys, and visually during daytime follow-ups.
Northern goshawk surveys followed the USFS survey protocol. Eric led a team of 4 biologists through forested habitat with few goshawk sightings over the years. One pair was located and the nest monitored from egg to fledgling. Two goshawks fledged from a clutch of three in 2019. The nest was relocated in 2020 and fledged three goshawks.
Additionally, over 100 avian species were identified yearly throughout species-specific surveys and nest surveys to comply with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Aquatic surveys within creeks and stock tanks scattered throughout the Patagonia Mountains. Surveys were conducted visually and with nets to collect both vertebrate and invertebrate species. Water quality data was also recorded.
Avian Point-Count and Burrowing Owl Surveys
White Sands Missile Range, Alamogordo, New Mexico
This was one of the most enjoyable projects I've been a part of in all my years; I worked on it while with HDR and recently as AtoZec. The U.S. Army requested baseline environmental studies within the White Sands Missile Range for the purpose of land-use planning. The studies included botanical and avian surveys; I performed the avian surveys and assisted in some afternoons of the botanical bonanza. Incidental wildlife was also recorded throughout the range.
The avian studies consisted of scores of point-count surveys, nest searches, and western burrowing owl surveys across thousands of acres. The surveys measured the relative abundance of birds, estimated the abundance and species composition of nesting birds, and estimated the relative abundance and spatial distribution of western burrowing owls. In addition, any wildlife species observed was recorded.
This was absolutely a wonderful project that developed a solid baseline of environmental data. I worked with a tremendous team collecting excellent data in a beautiful area. The White Sands Missile Range is massive, and as a result much of it doesn't see human presence often. The landscapes were gorgeous and the wildlife plentiful.
Preconstruction Nest Survey/ Desert Tortoise Construction Training
Catalina/Oro Valley, Arizona
Arizona Department of Transportation/Granite Construction
The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) contracted with Granite Construction to perform road construction on SR 77. As part of the conservation measures in the environmental clearance, a Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) nest survey and desert tortoise awareness training were required prior to construction...this is where I was brought in. These are very common conservation measures on ADOT projects and something I am quite familiar with; I've done everything from writing them during the environmental clearing stage to performing them prior to construction.
The MBTA nest searches are required during the breeding season on many types of ADOT projects. The surveys went smoothly and without a hitch, yielding numerous inactive nests. The verdin, a very common songbird in the desert, was the most common nest builder in the project area (they often build multiple nests). While not required for this project, avoidance measures for active nests will vary project to project after coordinating with the parties involved.
The project was located in desert tortoise habitat as well and required desert tortoise awareness training. This training was required for any individual who may be present on the construction site. I developed the training and performed it for the construction team. Additionally, I remained as the project biologist in the event a desert tortoise was found on the project site.
All in all this was a successful and straightforward project.