Whiskey Slide & Schaad Road Bridges
Working with a local engineering firm, HELIX is conducting environmental compliance studies in support of CEQA/NEPA documentation for two bridge replacement projects in Calaveras County (Caltrans District 10). HELIX prepared the draft Preliminary Environmental Study (PES) for both projects and submitted them to Caltrans for review/approval; conducted baseline biological resources investigations (including rare plant surveys and jurisdictional wetland delineations); and initiated cultural resources investigations and Native American consultation. By concurrently conducting the baseline biological survey with a rare plant survey, HELIX was able to provide a dual service to the client that resulted in considerable time and cost savings. Organized public outreach is underway to ensure community members are involved in the process and community concerns are addressed in a proactive manner. Other tasks include a Natural Environment Study (NES), noise study report, visual resource assessment, hazardous materials investigation (Phase I Environmental Site Assessment), air quality analysis, and permitting. All work is being performed in accordance with the County of Calaveras and Caltrans’ Local Assistance Procedures Manual (LAPM).
Inyo County Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment & PEIR
HELIX Environmental Planning assisted Inyo County with the preparation of a Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment (REGPA) and Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) to address state-mandated renewable energy demands and potential future utility-scale renewable energy projects within the County’s footprint. In addition to the technical reports (e.g., air quality, biological resources, socioeconomic impacts, etc.) associated with the PEIR, HELIX was responsible for managing a proactive and large-scale public involvement campaign working directly with the County, residents, landowners, California Energy Commission, California Public Utilities Commission, local tribal governments, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and applicable federal and state public resource agencies. The REGPA and PEIR were met with intense interest and generated public comments from hundreds of individuals and organizations. Primary issues of concern to County residents included the siting and placement of transmission lines, power delivery facilities, and solar/wind renewable energy infrastructure especially since the County is part of scenic Owens Valley, an area of unprecedented natural beauty and natural resources in central California. The final REGPA and PEIR were adopted by the County in March 2015.
In May 2015, a “Planning Award of Merit for Innovation in Green Community Planning” was awarded to Inyo County and HELIX for the Inyo County Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment project. Both Inyo County and HELIX were recognized for outstanding achievement in land use planning and best practices by the American Planning Association Central Chapter.
Carlsbad Oaks North
HELIX Environmental Planning (HELIX) provided environmental compliance monitoring during construction and during the post-construction phase of the Carlsbad Oaks North Project, a 414-acre master planned corporate business park. HELIX monitored air quality, water quality, and biological resource mitigation measures in accordance with the Carlsbad Oaks North EIR. HELIX wrote water quality monitoring plan and conducted sediment/siltation monitoring, water quality assessments, and benthic macroinvertebrate community analyses. Biological resource monitoring included construction monitoring, compliance with the project’s Mitigation, Monitoring and Reporting Program (MMRP), Storm Water Prevention Pollution Plan (SWPPP) monitoring, and a 7-year functional assessment of habitat adjacent to the construction site. HELIX staff helped ensure implementation of Clean Water Act Section 404 permit, Clean Water Act Section 401 certification, and California Fish and Game Code Section 1602 Agreement conditions. HELIX also conducted vegetation mapping, focused surveys for coastal California gnatcatcher, monitoring of geotechnical testing, and habitat restoration and monitoring of wetland and upland habitats.
Nevada Irrigation District Raw Water Master Plan
HELIX Environmental Planning (HELIX) is preparing a Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) for the Nevada Irrigation District’s Raw Water Master Plan. The Nevada Irrigation District is a diversified water resource agency that supplies water to nearly 25,000 homes, farms and businesses in Nevada and Placer Counties in the foothills of Northern California. Environmental issues currently being analyzed in detail in the PEIR include aesthetics, air quality, biological resources, cultural resources, geology/soils, greenhouse gas emissions, hazards/hazardous materials, hydrology/water quality, land use/planning, noise, and transportation/traffic. Where appropriate, programmatic mitigation measures are being prescribed to address impacts that had the potential to have a significant adverse impact on the environment. The PEIR will streamline CEQA review of future construction projects within the Raw Water Master Plan.
Gateway Station West Transit Oriented Development
HELIX Environmental Planning (HELIX) managed the CEQA process and prepared a Supplemental EIR (SEIR) for this large-scale residential project in the City of Newark. Additionally, HELIX conducted technical studies for biological resources, air quality/greenhouse gas (GHG), noise, and visual resources. The project site includes approximately 54.5 acres within the 205-acre Dumbarton Transit-Oriented Development Specific Plan Area, with proposed development encompassing 589 residential units (including 321 single-family and 268 multi-family units) on approximately 41 acres, as well as approximately 13.5 acres of dedicated biological open space. Additional proposed facilities within the 41-acre development area include public/private roadways, parks, on- and off-street parking, drainage/water quality features, paseos/walkways, landscaping, and trails (including a candidate segment of the San Francisco Bay Trail). The project site has been used previously for industrial operations, with key issues including hazardous material/waste occurrence and remediation, water quality, biological resources, and traffic. The project is also subject to the jurisdictions of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Army Corps of Engineers and Regional Water Quality Control Board with HELIX having a major role in the related permitting processes.
Padre Dam Municipal Water District As-Needed Environmental Consulting
HELIX Environmental Planning has provided as-needed environmental consulting services to the Padre Dam Municipal Water District since 2011. During that time, HELIX has provided a wide range of services, including biological resources, cultural resources, noise, air quality/greenhouse gas and hazardous materials technical reports; environmental constraints evaluations; construction monitoring; wetland permitting; and CEQA document preparation ranging from Categorical Exemptions to an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Of note, HELIX prepared an Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration (IS/MND), CEQA Plus documentation (for a State Revolving Fund loan) and supporting technical studies, including an air quality/greenhouse gas (GHG) technical report, biological resources letter report, acoustical letter report, and cultural resources letter report for the proposed Phase 1 expansion of the district’s Ray Stoyer Water Recycling Facility and installation of an advanced water treatment plant (AWTP). The AWTP would enable the District to send highly treated recycled water (using micro-filtration, reverse osmosis, and advanced oxidation) to a groundwater recharge and reclamation project for injection into the Santee Basin aquifer or to surface discharge at Lake Jennings, increasing water supply reliability in the area. HELIX currently is preparing the Program EIR addressing the District’s Master Plan, which will also analyze the next phase of the proposed potable reuse project at a project-specific level.
SR-11 & Otay Mesa East Port of Entry Program
HELIX provided environmental consulting services to evaluate the general alignment locations for State Route (SR-) 11 and a future land port of entry and commercial vehicle enforcement facility in south San Diego County at the U.S./Mexico border, plus associated improvements to SR-905 and the SR-905/SR-125/SR-11 Interchange. HELIX’s role in this project began in 2000, working jointly with SANDAG and Caltrans, to complete an Environmental Constraints Analysis in support of the Project Study Report (PSR), addressing cultural resources, hazardous materials, and biological resources within study areas of 400 to 1,000 acres. Biology surveys included vegetation mapping, wetland delineation, and surveys of burrowing owls, coastal California gnatcatchers, rare plants, and fairy shrimp (both dry and wet seasons, and 150 basins). Final work products included a cultural resources extended phase I study, archaeological survey report, hazardous waste initial site assessment, jurisdictional delineation report, and biology existing conditions report. The project was shelved following 9/11 and was renewed in 2006 with a two-tier environmental compliance process. The Programmatic/Tier I EIR/EIS was completed by HELIX in 2008, resulting in the selection of a preferred alignment and U.S. State Department approval of the Presidential Permit for the new border crossing. In 2012, HELIX completed a Project-level/Tier II EIR/EIS to evaluate alternatives and select a preferred project design. The project was completed on an accelerated schedule to meet funding obligations. HELIX participated in interagency workgroups, prepared all public notices (including Spanish translations), and assisted in planning and executing public meetings. The natural environment study, community impact assessment, noise study report, and visual impact assessment for the Tier II EIR/EIS were also prepared by HELIX staff. In 2013, the National Association of Environmental Professionals presented HELIX with the “National Environmental Excellence” Award for NEPA Excellence for this project.
HELIX Environmental Planning (HELIX) provided biological services for a 961-acre master planned community project in the unincorporated area south of the City of Corona in Riverside County. Tasks included conducting rare plant surveys, conducting a riverine California Rapid Assessment Method (CRAM) assessment, designing the 27-acre on-site wetland mitigation plan, and preparing/processing wetland permit applications. HELIX tasks/work products included a jurisdictional delineation, burrowing owl survey, Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP) conformance, General Biological Resources Assessment, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Easement Letter, Habitat Evaluation and Acquisition Negotiation Strategy (HANS) analysis, conceptual restoration plan, and landscape construction documents.
Harmony Grove Village
HELIX Environmental Planning managed the preparation of this fast-track Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for a mixed-use development project in the unincorporated Harmony Grove area of the County of San Diego. HELIX also prepared the agricultural, biological, manure management and fly/vector control, and visual technical reports, as well as the resource protection study, for the project; which includes 742 residential units (including some work-live units), recreational spaces, public and private equestrian facilities, and a water reclamation facility on 468 acres. The project required three Major Use Permits, a Specific Plan approval, a rezone, and amendments to the County Resource Protection Ordinance (RPO) and adopted General Plan. Technical issues of the greatest sensitivity included cultural resources (including adaptive re-use of one historic structure); County-protected wetlands; loss of agricultural resources; narrow endemic plant species; the crossing of Escondido Creek with a project-required road/bridge; visual effects of proposed retaining and sound walls; visual effects of change from an agricultural character; and working with both County and City of Escondido environmental significance thresholds.
Subsequent to certification of the EIR and approval of the project, HELIX secured wetland permits; assisted the client regarding identification, agency acceptance, and purchase of an off-site mitigation parcel; prepared conceptual plans and construction plans and specifications for 18.25 acres of wetland habitat creation and enhancement; prepared a final habitat management plan for the on- and off-site mitigation areas; conducted pre-installation data collection for planned wetland creation and enhancement areas according to the California Rapid Assessment Method (including necessary sensitive species surveys). Installation is completed, with year-one maintenance of the installed irrigation, native plants and seed completed in 2015 and ongoing.
The Statewide Association of Environmental Professionals recognized the Resource Management Plan (RMP) prepared for this project as the 2007 Outstanding Environmental Resource Document: Jurisdiction Over 50,000 Population. The RMP addressed the preservation, enhancement, and management of sensitive resources as exempt from the County’s Resource Protection Ordinance. In the words of the AEP jury: “The RMP effectively demonstrates how sound comprehensive resource planning, incorporating very good restoration and management programs can result in an environmentally superior Project to one implemented strictly using the RPO.”
Tranquillity Solar Project
HELIX Environmental Planning was contracted with the County of Fresno to provide mitigation compliance and reporting services for Recurrent Energy’s Tranquillity Solar Generating Facility, an approximately 1,600-acre project site located in Fresno County. HELIX performed pre-construction surveys for San Joaquin kit fox, burrowing owl, and nesting birds and raptors. HELIX also conducted biological monitoring of active nests on the project site during the initial construction activities. Currently, HELIX is providing Worker Education Awareness Program (WEAP) training for biological and cultural resources and is providing construction monitoring for the project.