Oxbow Associates provides botanical and invertebrate study and mitigation services and a full range of wetlands related services to our clients. Oxbow Associates possesses more than 50 years combined experience in wetlands science and the evaluation and study of herpetozoan species, specifically turtles, snakes and amphibians, native to the New England. Oxbow Associates is a highly specialized company with cost effective services providing support for large and small projects including primary consultants and sub-consultants to our colleagues at larger and national environmental consulting companies. In Massachusetts, Oxbow Associates has conservation and management permits pursuant to the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MGL C. 131a) for complex projects from Cape Cod to the Berkshires. Oxbow Associates also provide wetlands and rare/endangered species services to clients throughout New England.
Preliminary Site Constraints Analysis
In the early stages of project planning evaluation of site constraints relating to wetlands including: rare and endangered species, vernal pools and the combined local, state and federal permitting, requirements are not considered. Some limited examination of these factors can save considerable time, expense and future effort. These factors can be integrated into projected property use, instead of arising as a surprise obstacle at an inconvenient point in concept development.
Oxbow Associates can assist clients with a preliminary constraints analysis considering the factors often considered only after considerable expense has been dedicated to a site. With recent regulatory and policy changes at the state and federal levels it is more important than ever to examine sites with eyes wide open and consider constraints before they become insurmountable obstacles.
MESA (Mass. Endangered Species Act) Checklists/Habitat Assessments
When properties are located wholly or partially within Priority Habitat for rare and endangered wildlife (plants, invertebrates, vertebrates) and Estimated Habitat (Wetlands Protection Act) preparation and representation of a MESA Checklist (321 CMR 10.18, 10.20) may be required. Oxbow Associates can prepare assessments for clients with most projects avoiding further permitting requirements. As in Preliminary Site Constraints Analyses, preparation and submission of a MESA Checklist, early in the design and development process, is preferable.
Conservation and Management Permits Conservation and Management Permits are issued by the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife for projects that trigger certain thresholds of the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA M.G.L. c.30, secs. 61-62H). Typically, projects that require MEPA review are large scale commercial, industrial or subdivision projects that require multiple local and state permits and MEPA oversees the entire project, rather than individual components permitted by other regulatory authorities. If a specific project is scoped for a MEPA review and Massachusetts Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program (MNHESP) has records of rare species within or near the project site, the project proponent is required to work with MNHESP to demonstrate that the project will not have a short or long term impact on any rare species in accordance with the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (321 CMR 10.00). If MNHESP determines (through review of a Checklist submittal) that the proposed project is likely to adversely affect rare species habitat, MESA requires that a Conservation and Management Permit to demonstrate sufficient avoidance of impact and mitigation measures will provide a net benefit to the subject species.
Oxbow Associates has worked as rare species consultants for numerous projects across Massachusetts from the Berkshires to the Lower Cape. Permits obtained have ranged from exceedingly complex to simple and have involved some of the most sensitive species listed by the Commonwealth. Our ability to guide projects to compliance with the applicable regulations is demonstrated by the diversity of projects and permits obtained to date.
Wetlands Permitting and Compliance
Wetlands are protected under State Wetlands Protection statutes as well as Federal (S. 404, Clean Waters Act) and often local (home rule bylaws and ordinances). Oxbow Associates provides a full range of wetlands consultation services from the initial delineation and characterization of wetlands resource areas, through permit preparation, replication design and construction and monitoring.
Preliminary wetland assessments, employing GIS mapping, can provide rapid insight into project feasibility with limited up front investment. Oxbow Associates can also provide formal review and approval of wetland resource areas (Abbreviated Notification of Resource Area Delineation under the Mass. Wetlands Protection Act, or Jurisdictional Determination pursuant to S. 404).
Oxbow Associates conducts delineation of wetlands and obtain permits for projects ranging from single family homes to large residential subdivisions for natural gas, electric and water/sewer, and road infrastructure projects.
Oxbow Associates provides wetland delineation, permit preparation, and client representation services throughout Massachusetts. Oxbow Associates can provide cost effective delineation and permitting services for small scale projects associated with single family homes, but are commonly contracted to conduct wetland delineation on larger sites, up to 500 acres. We have training and extensive field experience evaluating vegetative plant communities, hydric soil characteristics, surface hydrology, and categorizing wetland resource areas in accordance with local, state, and federal regulations. As a component of our wetland delineation services, Oxbow Associates often completes Department of Environmental Protection Bordering Vegetated Wetland Field Data Forms for many of our wetland delineation. Oxbow Associates specialize in preparing all permit application forms under the Wetlands Protection Act including Request for Determination of Applicability, Abbreviated Notice of Resource Area Determination, and Notice of Intent.
Oxbow Associates has also worked for many projects where construction monitoring is required to ensure the project remains in compliance with the permit conditions. Typically, this service includes construction and monitoring of erosion control barriers and reporting our findings to the appropriate regulatory authority.
Mortality Avoidance Planning and Avoidance/T&E Permit Compliance
Projects within Massachusetts and elsewhere in New England may require special on site measures to avoid direct mortality to animals and/or plants that may result from site construction. Examples include, but not limited to: utility work, roads and bridges, and commercial undertakings. Oxbow Associates can negotiate these requirements and implement them on behalf of clients in order to maintain project scheduling while also maintaining the avoidance of mortality to state or federally protected species.
Such avoidance measures have been associated with rare turtles, rattlesnakes and non-venomous snake species, salamanders, freshwater mussels and other invertebrates and plants.
GPS and GIS Mapping
Oxbow Associates is well equipped to conduct various mapping projects related to wetland resource areas and habitat features using the latest satellite mapping and navigation technology. Oxbow Associates maintains a collection of late model GIS equipment including several Trimble units with excellent accuracy and employ state Geographic Information Systems (GIS, e.g., MassGIS, GRANIT, etc.) and client engineering data to provide an incredibly efficient method to combine field surveys and available natural resource databases from GIS.
For example, Oxbow Associates was previously contracted to evaluate approximately a 300 acre wooded site for wetlands and rare species issues. Within three weeks Oxbow Associates flagged the wetlands in the field (>500 flags), overlaid all the flag locations, property bounds and other significant features on color aerial orthophotograph for our clientele to make important decisions about the feasibility of their project prior to incurring survey and engineering costs.
Residential, Commercial and Agricultural Development
Oxbow Associates has been involved in wetland delineation and permit preparation of many residential, commercial, and agricultural projects throughout New England. As described above, Oxbow Associates provide comprehensive services from field delineation to representing clientele through the entire permit review process with the local, state, and federal regulatory authorities. We also provide services specific to wetland replacement design, construction oversight, and multi-season monitoring. However, our goal is to assist our clients to avoid or minimize wetland impact wherever possible, thus avoiding wetland replacement construction and monitoring altogether.
Oxbow Associates has reviewed many applications for Conservation Commissions throughout Massachusetts including many resource area delineations, proposed projects, and alleged violations conducted by other environmental consultants. Oxbow Associates staff is well qualified to review projects that may affect sensitive wetland or rare species habitat.
Linear and Utility projects such as gas, sewer, electric utilities, and telecommunication lines often require temporary, and sometimes permanent, wetland alteration. Oxbow Associates has assisted utility companies in wetland delineation and permitting for a variety of utility projects in the Northeastern U.S.
Oxbow Associates has worked on highway improvement projects throughout Massachusetts. The staff have worked on wetlands and wildlife issues during the permit process for highway widening and extensions.