HELIX Environmental Planning Celebrates 25 Years with Additional Office Opening in Carlsbad

NorthSDCounty_CarlsbadOfficeAs we begin our 25th year, HELIX Environmental Planning is excited to announce the opening of our fifth office location. The North San Diego County office begins operations March 16, 2016. Located at 703 Palomar Airport Road in Carlsbad, California, this new location will allow HELIX to better serve North San Diego County and the surrounding areas.


HELIX CEO, Michael Schwerin, attributes this expansion to the recent growth HELIX has experienced. “Our success is due to the hard work of every employee,” explained Schwerin. “We’ve experienced substantial growth this year as a result, and we’re thrilled to expand so we can better serve our clients and also enhance the well-being of our employees by having an office in the same community where many of them live.”


In addition to HELIX’s two locations in San Diego County, HELIX also has offices in Sacramento, Orange, and Riverside counties. Prior to the North San Diego County office, HELIX recently opened the office in Irvine in May 2015.  HELIX is currently recruiting for a variety of new positions for their San Diego offices, including a senior biology group manager, senior regulatory permitting specialist, and both archaeology and biology project managers. For more information, please visit the Current Openings page.

HP Communications Environmental Compliance

130_ HPComm_SBCountyWorking on U.S. Forest Service land in San Bernardino County, HELIX surveyed six failed pole locations for HP Communications to determine whether cultural resources were present. HELIX conducted a record search at the San Bernardino Archaeological Information Center (AIC) to determine if any resources had been previously recorded at or near the six poles. Subsequent to the record search, a pedestrian survey was conducted. The poles were located in a remote area with very steep terrain and required hand clearing of brush and debris to ascertain if there were historic or pre-contact age resources present. Following the field survey, a report was prepared providing the necessary details and findings.

Tecolote Canyon

133_TecoloteCanyonHELIX prepared a Natural Resource Management Plan for the approximately 900-acre natural park in the Linda Vista and Clairemont Mesa communities of the City of San Diego. Although virtually surrounded by urban development, the park contributes to the City’s Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP) preserve system and supports a number of sensitive plant and animal species. Work in support of the management plan included vegetation mapping, rare plant surveys, and bird counts. The plan includes an evaluation of various issues facing the park and recommendations for future maintenance, usage, development, restoration, and education/research opportunities. Detailed mapping of existing non-native plant species was conducted, and priorities for invasive species removal, restoration and enhancement were recommended. Other issues include maintenance of existing water and wastewater infrastructure, provision of appropriate public access and erosion control.

Borrego Landfill Expansion

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs a part of the planned expansion for the existing Borrego Landfill facility in the desert region of San Diego County, HELIX Environmental Planning performed biological studies, constraints analyses, and a preliminary environmental assessment for this project. The biological studies included comprehensive survey and mapping of vegetation communities, sensitive species habitat, potential jurisdictional waters and wetlands, and other sensitive biological resources. Specific evaluation was required during both desktop and field review to determine downstream connectivity and nexus to waters of the U.S., or lack thereof, pertaining to several dry desert wash and erosion features in the study area. It was concluded that some of the features continued further to the south of the study area, eventually connecting with the Borrego Sink Wash, which discharges into San Felipe Creek. San Felipe Creek is believed to have a significant nexus to the Salton Sea, which is a traditional navigable water (TNW). Therefore, some of the unnamed drainage features were determined to potentially qualify as waters of the U.S. under the regulatory jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), RWQCB, and/or California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) based on the presence of a defined and consistent OHWM and bed and bank; downstream connectivity to the Salton Sea, which is a TNW; and, presence of other streambed characteristics.

City of Clovis Veteran’s Affairs Environmental Compliance

131_Terracon_VA_ClovisProjectAreaHELIX provided cultural resource services for compliance with Veteran’s Affairs Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) regulations for a 10-acre project in the City of Clovis. Project tasks included a record search conducted at the Southern San Joaquin Valley Information Center (SSJVIC), a request to the Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC) for a search of its Sacred Lands File, and a field survey. The project was surveyed using standard transect intervals and no historic or pre-contact resources were discovered. Subsequent to the field survey, a comprehensive report detailing the findings was provided for the client, Terracon, Inc., and lead agency, the Veteran’s Administration.

Sprint, AT&T, & T-Mobile Environmental Compliance

129_TMobile_EAS_AntennasRuralBayAreaFor Sprint, AT&T Mobility, and T-Mobile West locations across California and the western U.S., HELIX provides a myriad of environmental compliance services. To comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), HELIX provides Phase I Environmental Site Assessments, archaeological and architectural surveys, historic building evaluations, biological surveys, Section 106 submittals including Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Forms 620/621, NEPA checklist reporting, bird nest observation reports, Native American and Native Hawaiian Tribal Nations Consultation, as well State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) consultation.

Verizon and AT&T Cellular Noise Control Planning

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn various Verizon and AT&T sites throughout southern California, HELIX Environmental Planning provides noise control planning and noise engineering for cellular installation plans. Specialty planning for some of these sites has included the complete conceptual design for a fully enclosed site. Examples of this include the Carmel Country Club Verizon Site in the community of Carmel Valley and the Beagle Verizon Site in the community of Linda Vista in San Diego. For these projects, HELIX’s acoustical specialist developed a design that used silencers, acoustical louvers, and forced ventilation fans to minimize noise levels from the generator and air conditioning systems to be in compliance with residential noise limits.

Tijuana River Valley Regional Park Restoration

11_11_15The more than 1,800-acre Tijuana River Valley Regional Park features 22.5 miles of multi-use non-motorized trails winding through diverse habitat ranging from dense riparian forest to maritime sage scrub. It is home to approximately two dozen sensitive species with more than 340 bird species spotted here, according to the County of San Diego Parks and Recreation Department. HELIX has prepared and is now implementing several habitat restoration plans for this area, and was also involved with updating maps for the formal trail system and corresponding trail revegetation. Active restoration projects include the 7.2-acre Monument Mesa, 2.6-acre Butterfly Gardens, 12.4-acre Baseball Fields, and the 13-acre Southwest Trails restoration sites. Efforts to preserve local habitats in the Tijuana River Valley Regional Park are being balanced with efforts to improve and expand trail access by the Parks and Recreation Department.

It’s Time to Schedule Sensitive Species Surveys

El Niño has started to bring our region abundant rain, which should result in impressive plant growth after recent trivial blooms due to the drought. HELIX’s team of over 40 biologists is now kicking off the sensitive plant and animal spring survey season. Our staff, located throughout California, holds federal and state authorizations that qualify HELIX biologists to conduct a wide variety of focused species surveys.  We provide expertise in all aspects of biological consulting, including focused species surveys, biological studies, jurisdictional delineations, regulatory permitting, construction monitoring, and habitat restoration.


To ensure your project stays on track, contact Shelby Howard, Biology Services Division Manager, at 619-462-1515 or ShelbyH@helixepi.com and schedule your survey today. We are currently scheduling and/or conducting the following sensitive plant and animal surveys:


Environmental Services for Wildfire Management

King Fire Habitat Restoration Botanical SurveysA significant level of effort is needed to lessen the risk of wildfires to our communities, properly assess damage to natural and cultural resources following large fires, and restore habitat to healthy and native conditions. HELIX provides specialized and comprehensive environmental services to help clients identify and implement the appropriate response for long-term sustainability. We have served the community for 27 years and have in-depth experience with vegetation management and botanical, wildlife, and archaeological studies. We are experts in environmental planning and compliance and can help you navigate the complexities of regulations including the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, Endangered Species Act, and Clean Water Act.


HELIX’s pre- and post-fire management services include:


Helping the U.S. Forest Service through Post-Fire Environmental Services

Supporting the King Fire Burn Area Emergency Response efforts, two teams of HELIX biologists conducted focused surveys and manual treatment of invasive plants on over 8,000 acres of Eldorado National Forest that was burned in the 2014 King Fire in El Dorado and Placer Counties. The surveys were emergency response, first season efforts at invasive species monitoring and control following the fire, and focused on areas disturbed by fire suppression efforts (e.g., fire lines, roads used by fire equipment, and drop points). The locations and extent of infestations were documented using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology and were used in the Forest Service’s database for subsequent invasive plant monitoring and control efforts.


Additionally, three teams of HELIX biologists conducted focused surveys for sensitive plants and habitats, and invasive plants on over 10,000 acres of Eldorado National Forest that was burned. The surveys were conducted in support of the King Fire Restoration Project Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prepared by the Eldorado National Forest. The locations and extent of target species and sensitive habitats were collected using handheld GPS units, and customized mapbooks and digitized field forms on iPads. Additionally, HELIX prepared the Aquatics Biology Affected Environment and Environmental Effects sections of the King Fire Restoration Project EIS and conducted data processing and analysis for use in the associated Biological Evaluation/Biological Assessment document for five protected aquatic wildlife species. Analyzed restoration efforts are expected to include logging to salvage burned trees for lumber, removing damaged trees for safety reasons, replanting, prescribed burn, and erosion control.


For more information and to discuss your specific projects, please contact Catherine Silvester, Environmental Specialist, at 916.365.8715 or via email at catherines@helixepi.com.