HELIX Grows Cultural Resources Team Across California

Andy PulcheonTo meet the growing needs of our clients across California, HELIX Environmental Planning is excited to announce an expanded cultural resources team.

With more than 30 years of experience, Andrew (Andy) Pulcheon, RPA, AICP joined HELIX as a Cultural Resources Group Manager leading our archaeology teams and projects in Northern California. Andy has a breadth of skills and knowledge from public and private sector projects across Central and Northern California including Native American consultation; field, archival, and laboratory research; Section 106 and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) historical resource evaluations; CEQA document preparation; National Environmental Policty Act (NEPA) analysis; treatment and management plan development; and museum curation and collections management. He also has 20 years of experience in cultural resources impact assessment and mitigation development, including the preparation of Initial Study (IS) and Environmental Impact Report (EIR) sections in his role as a Certified Planner. He has documented or evaluated prehistoric and historical archaeological sites, historic districts, archaeological districts, ranches, farmsteads, schools, bridges, train stations, dams, tanneries, hospitals, post offices, railroads and associated features, roadways, docks, rock walls, fire lookouts, courthouses, college campuses, residences, and mills to meet regulatory requirements. Andy is a Registered Professional Archaeologist and is also enrolled in the Master of Legal Studies program for Indigenous People’s Law at the University of Oklahoma.


StaciStacie Wilsone Wilson, RPA, from our San Diego County office in La Mesa, has been promoted to Cultural Resources Group Manager. In this expanded role, Stacie joins the Southern California Planning Division leadership overseeing a diverse team of archaeologists who work on a wide variety of surveys, studies, and environmental compliance monitoring. With 21 years of experience, Stacie served as principal investigator on numerous cultural resources management projects, and regularly coordinates with local, state, and federal agencies and Native American tribal representatives. She is experienced in CEQA/NEPA compliance, archaeological inventories and excavation, and report documentation and has broad experience on private, municipal, federal, utility, and renewable energy projects across Southern California. Stacie meets the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Professional Qualifications for prehistoric and historic archaeology.


Nelson WhiteWorking out of the Bay Area, Nelson White has joined HELIX’s cultural resources team to support projects statewide throughout California. Nelson is a federally qualified professional in the fields of architectural history and historic preservation, with more than 20 years of experience. He is knowledgeable in the history and development of American cities and suburbs, with a focus on residential development and design. His California state-wide experience includes managing and conducting dozens of historical resource surveys and evaluations in compliance with the CEQA and local ordinances. He has prepared numerous cultural resource studies that utilize federal, state, and local designation criteria for evaluating properties for eligibility as a historic resource for local consideration, for the purposes of CEQA and as a historic property under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. Nelson utilizes his understanding of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards to facilitate effective project compliance and design review for adaptive reuse and new construction projects within urban and suburban settings. He works closely with clients and architects to preserve character-defining features of buildings and is a member of the California Preservation Foundation (CPF) and the Society of Architectural Historians. Nelson exceeds the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards in history and architectural history.


For More Information
HELIX offers a full range of cultural resource management services across California including archaeological studies, historic resource surveys and structure assessments, testing and data recovery, Native American consultation and coordination, and mitigation planning and monitoring. For more information or to discuss your project please contact Andy at andrewp@helixepi.com, Stacie at staciew@helixepi.com, or Nelson at nelsonw@helixepi.com.




Beth Ehsan Promoted to Biology Group Manager

Beth Ehsan headshotWe are excited to announce the promotion of Beth Ehsan to Biology Group Manager!


In this expanded role, Beth joins the Southern California Biology Division leadership overseeing a diverse team of biologists who work on a wide variety of biological surveys, environmental compliance monitoring, restoration planning and monitoring, and regulatory permitting for private and public projects. She has 17 years of professional experience preparing environmental documents in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and a wealth of experience finding creative, workable solutions for a broad range of environmental impacts. Beth specializes in biological resources, habitat conservation planning, and resource management.


Beth has extensive experience working in multiple jurisdictions throughout Southern California. She has been managing complex projects since joining HELIX in 2015 that have included due diligence investigations, biological technical reports, Caltrans Natural Environment Study (NES) reports, wetland delineations, alternatives analyses, Resource Management Plans, habitat mitigation and monitoring plans (HMMPs), and regulatory permitting efforts with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Regional Water Quality Control Board, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Over the last two years, Beth has also taken on a team lead role at HELIX expanding the guidance and support she provides to biologists and managers within the Biology Division.


Our staff, clients, and teaming partners have enjoyed Beth’s focused leadership, responsiveness, and dedicated approach to project management. We are proud of Beth and look forward to continuing to see her succeed, so please join us in celebrating this accomplishment! To reach Beth and discuss your project, you can email her at BethE@helixepi.com or call 619.462.1515.




HELIX Recognized in Top 2 Best Environmental Firms to Work for by Zweig Group


2023 Best Firms to Work For LogoHELIX Environmental Planning has been named by Zweig Group as one of the “2023 Best Firms to Work For”, ranking in the top two environmental firms nationwide, and top seven firms in our size category for the Architecture Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry. Through this award, HELIX is recognized for our investment in the employee experience to create an environment where people feel valued, can make a difference, and can clearly see their contribution to the overall mission and success of the firm.


The Zweig Group Best Firms to Work For list began in 2001, recognizing the top architecture, structural engineering, civil engineering, environmental, geotechnical engineering, landscape architecture/planning, and multi-disciplinary firms in the U.S. and Canada. The award is based on criteria including firm culture, workplace practices, employee benefits, employee retention rates, professional development, and more. HELIX and the other winners of this year’s award will be celebrated during the 2023 Elevate AEC Conference held September 13-15, 2023 in Dallas, Texas.


For more information and the complete list, visit the Zweig Group website.



Clean Water Act Changes

wetland vernal pool survey

Defining “waters of the United States” (waters of the U.S.) has been an ongoing, persistent and contentious task spanning over a half century, with various adopted interpretations by the regulating agencies (United States Environmental Protection Agency [USEPA] and United States Army Corps of Engineers [USACE]) (agencies) dominating enforcement under the Federal Clean Water Act (CWA).


On May 25, 2023, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in the case of Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency resulting in yet another Supreme Court decision influencing how federal waters are defined. The decision determined that “the CWA extends to only those ‘wetlands with a continuous surface connection to bodies that are “waters of the United States” in their own right,’ so that they are ‘indistinguishable’ from those waters.”


The primary significance of the Sackett decision for HELIX’s clients is that, for some project sites, some wetlands that were previously subject to federal jurisdiction under the CWA will no longer be covered by the CWA, eliminating the need for USACE permitting under Section 404 of the CWA. However, the narrowed definition of waters of the U.S. may present additional regulatory challenges for our clients.


While we await further agency guidance, HELIX’s regulatory specialists are available to assist with strategy development for your projects. Visit our Contact Us page for a listing of HELIX offices and contact information for staff near you.


HELIX’s Sacramento County Office Moves to a New Location

HELIX Sacramento County office buildingTo accommodate HELIX Environmental Planning’s growth in the Northern California region, we’re excited to announce the relocation of our Sacramento County office in Folsom.  Please note our new address and phone number for reaching our Folsom staff.


New HELIX Sacramento County Office
1180 Iron Point Road, Suite 130
Folsom, CA 95630
Phone: 916-435-1205
Fax: 619-462-0552


Visit our Contact Us page for a listing of all HELIX office locations and contact information.


Scott Redding Joins HELIX as Landscape Architecture Group Manager

Scott Redding headshotWe’re pleased to announce the addition of Scott Redding, PLA as Principal Landscape Architect. Working from our Placer County office in Roseville, Scott serves as HELIX Environmental Planning’s Landscape Architecture Group Manager leading our teams in Northern California.


With 24 years of experience in landscape architecture, Scott has designed and managed a diverse portfolio of projects for the public and private sectors. These include community design, civic, institutional, commercial, parks/recreation, and educational facilities of varying size, scale, and complexity. His focus has been the integration of the aesthetic, functional, and sustainable aspects of landscape architecture into every project. Scott is skilled in many facets of the profession including production, design, project management, construction administration, mentoring, and leadership. Scott’s goals are to improve and enhance the quality of spaces to promote sustainability, evoke environmental and social change, and to build healthy, vibrant, and resilient communities.


Please join us in celebrating this wonderful new addition to the HELIX team! To reach Scott and discuss your project, you can email him at ScottR@helixepi.com or call him direct at 916-365-8758.


ASLA Sierra Chapter Recognizes HELIX

The Preserve at District56 Project Aerial ViewHELIX was honored by the Sierra Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) at their biennial Design Awards event held November 4, 2022.


Merit Award for The Preserve at District56


The Preserve at District56 project received the Merit Award in the Parks and Open Space category. Located in the City of Elk Grove’s 56-acre civic center complex (District56), The Preserve is a 30-acre park developed as a community gathering space to celebrate and preserve nature and history. The heart of The Preserve is the 4.5-acre perennial pond with four habitat islands where trees and snags were retained, and wetland vegetation added to provide cover and food for aquatic wildlife. Visitors interface with the pond through the bridge overlook, a shade-covered picnic overlook, and an amphitheater at the water’s edge to support educational activities.


Children are immersed in nature as they explore, play, and interact with the pond. The thematic playground features a variety of interactive activities for all ages and abilities. The Sensory Plaza facing the playground invites a multisensory nature experience through touch, sound, vision, and smell. Opportunities to gather and create social connections span the great lawn, fitness court, picnic areas, and playground.


Native grasslands have been restored and artificial burrows were installed to invite burrowing owls, a California species of special concern. Additional habitat was provided by installing bat boxes near the pond to encourage bats to roost and eat, which helps control insects without the need for chemical pesticides.


Furthest from the bustling civic center are passive uses, with walking trails, oak woodland, and an homage to Elk Grove’s agriculture heritage through preservation of a pistachio orchard and silo. The principals of the Historic American Landscape Survey were used to preserve the form and massing of the pistachio orchard, editing the self-seeded trees to retain the grid form indicative of orchard landscapes of the time. Interpretive signs tell the story of the natural features and history. Close coordination with the City during design ensures the site can be programmed for community events, recreation, and educational opportunities.


Meredith Branstad Honored with Legacy Award


During the event, HELIX’s Principal Landscape Architect, Meredith Branstad, from the firm’s Folsom office, was also presented with the Legacy Award recognizing her years of service to the organization and to the profession of landscape architecture, through volunteering as an executive committee member, encouraging high school students to pursue landscape architecture through the CREATE Mentor program, and teaching at UC Davis.


Lisa Capper Retiring from HELIX

Lisa Capper headshotCelebrating a Remarkable Career!


We are celebrating Lisa Capper, Principal Planner, whose contributions to HELIX Environmental Planning over the past 29 years have been integral to the firm’s ongoing success. Lisa will be officially retiring from HELIX on September 9, 2022.


In addition to managing CEQA compliance for some of the San Diego region’s most complex and controversial projects, Lisa held a number of key leadership positions at HELIX, including serving on our executive committee for 15 years. Her commitment to mentorship, excellent writing, and outstanding client service have helped define our corporate culture.


We will miss Lisa not only for her professionalism and dedication, but also her kindness, humor, and encyclopedic knowledge of art and culture. Please join us in congratulating Lisa as she embarks on her next adventures!


Diana Dyste Joins HELIX as Cultural Resources Discipline Leader

Diana Dyste headshotWe’re thrilled to announce the addition of Diana Dyste as HELIX’s Statewide Cultural Resources Discipline Leader!


Diana is a Registered Professional Archaeologist (RPA) and Principal Investigator with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Professional Qualifications for archaeology. She has 22 years of experience in California archaeology, ethnography, and Native American support services.


Diana has extensive experience implementing permit requirements for National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) Section 106 and CEQA/NEPA, Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA), Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), Executive Order 11593, and CEQA-Plus and 404 permit applications. She has provided compliance services to a wide range of federal, state, and local agencies including the California Energy Commission, California Public Utilities Commission, Caltrans, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, State Water Board, and multiple water municipalities, as well as energy companies including Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), and Southern California Edison (SCE).


Diana is experienced in Native American consultation and participatory action collaborative field methods at Traditional Cultural Properties, Tribal Cultural Resources, and sacred/burial sites. Her key strengths include project/operations management, technical/environmental document preparation, Native American support services, and QA/QC management of complex archaeological projects. This includes the design and implementation of mitigation measures, site testing, data recovery, human remains recovery, specialty lab analysis, and technical reporting. Diana’s archaeological expertise includes macroscopic use-wear analysis of ground stone, archaeobotanical identification and seasonality, zooarchaeology minimum number of individuals/number of identifiable specimens (MNI/NISP), taphonomy, and desktop buried site sensitivity assessment.


At HELIX, she will work with a team of archaeologists, cultural resources specialists, architectural historians, and our group managers across California to grow HELIX’s cultural resources practice statewide.


Please join us in celebrating this wonderful new addition to the HELIX team! To reach Diana and discuss your project, you can email her at DianaD@helixepi.com or call 619-668-7459.


Memorial to Dr. Roy Buck in CNPS Artemisia

Botanist Roy Buck on a field visit

Dr. Roy Buck, one of California’s leading botanists, passed away on January 9, 2019, at the age of 66.


Dr. Gretchen Flohr, HELIX Biology Group Manager/Principal Biologist and colleagues authored a memorial to Dr. Buck in the most recent issue of the California Native Plant Society scientific journal, Artemisia (Volume 49, No. 1, June 2022).


Gretchen and Dr. Buck were close friends and colleagues for over 25 years. Dr. Buck worked as Gretchen’s Senior Botanist when she ran her own consulting firm. Please join us in remembering this brilliant botanist and truly amazing person. In addition to the memorial article, you can also view a video of one of Dr. Buck’s last field visits.