The first step in the 401/404 process is to assess the streams, wetlands & open waters that occur within your project boundary. These are referred to as Waters of the U.S. Beginning with a map of your site we use a combination of GIS and field reconnaissance to locate all of the waters that occur within that land unit. Each water is assessed for the specific data as required by the regulatory agency(s), photographed and mapped with GPS.
The relevance of these waters to your project are their jurisdictional status. The current guidelines that determine a waters jurisdictional status are generally derived from the various lawsuits that have challenged federal authority. The conditions that exempt a water from jurisdiction are specified in the Rapanos decision JD Guidebook 2007. Examples of non-jurisdictional waters include ditches, swales, waters constructed in uplands…, isolated waters, and those lack a significant nexus. It is critical that a professional ecologist who is also expert in current regulations make these determinations; the implications of an inaccurate JD could be hundreds of thousands of dollars in undo permitting and mitigation costs, or perhaps foregoing the project.
We deploy mobile office trailers for large-scale projects. Field data is relayed by two-way radio and recorded directly into our proprietary database. We eliminate the need for paper data sheets or sensitive electronic equipment in the field, and allow the field ecologist to focus on land features. After the photos and GPS data are downloaded the report is functionally complete.
When our report is filed with the Army Corps of Engineers it will be assigned to a project manager. They will visit the site, perhaps with the EPA, to confirm our report and/or require changes. The end product will be a signed form that makes the Jurisdictional decisions on your site final for a period of 5-years. The next step in the process is Permitting.