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The US Fish and Wildlife Service has officially removed the Lesser Prairie-Chicken from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. This decision comes after years of data evaluation regarding this species which is found in Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico.

“The storied prairie landscape of the Southwest is of tremendous economic and cultural importance. It is also a critical area for the birds, mammals, reptiles and other animals that rely on this unique habitat,” Service Director Dan Ashe said in a statement. “Responding to this court ruling by removing the bird from the federal list does not mean we are walking away from efforts to conserve the lesser prairie chicken. Far from it. We are undertaking a new status review to determine whether listing is again warranted, and we will continue to work with our state partners and others on efforts to protect vital habitat and ensure this flagship of the prairies survives well into the future.”

The Lesser Prairie-Chicken was listed on April 10, 2014. The move comes after a 2015 court challenge by the oil and gas industry requested the agency remove the bird from the list. Read the Federal Register

Posted by: In: Keep Austin Beautiful 03 May 2016 0 comments

Clean Sweep 2016On April 9, 2016, aci consulting and PPDS (both divisions of ACI Group, LLC) participated in Keep Austin Beautiful’s annual Clean Sweep. Each April, Keep Austin Beautiful hosts Clean Sweep, a city-wide service day spanning 130+ sites in 31 zip codes throughout Austin and resulting in over 29 tons of trash removed by more than 4,000 volunteers who contribute 8,700 combined service hours. For more information about joining our team for next year’s event, call Paige at (512) 852-3866.

2016 Site Map

Posted by: In: Public Involvement 11 Apr 2016 0 comments

2015-03-19 14 25 28The National Highway Institute (NHI) hosted the Public Involvement in the Transportation Decision-making Process training from March 22-24, 2016 at the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Riverside Campus in Austin, Texas. This course offered methods to achieve successful public involvement participation in the transportation decision-making process. During the three days of training, the participants learned to:

  • Describe U.S. DOT transportation decision-making processes, including those that trigger the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA);
  • Describe the relationship between public involvement and decision-making;
  • Develop a public involvement plan with stakeholder assistance that includes attention to non-traditional populations as an evaluation component;
  • Describe interest-based problem solving and the values that underlie it; and
  • Identify ways to enhance public involvement plans.

This training course was taught by Hughes Collaboration public mediator, Mike Hughes, and Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) Environmental Program Specialist, Keith Moore.

A link to TxDOT’s guidance for Public Involvement is located here.

spragues_pipit_7C2V9725On April 5, 2016 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) issued a proposed rule (FR vol. 81, p. 19527-19542) announcing a 12-moth findings petition to list the Sprague’s pipit (Anthus spragueii) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. This species was listed as a candidate species on September 15, 2010, and according to the proposed rule, the species does not warrant listing at this time. This species does not warrant listing at this time because the distribution of the species is relatively stable across its range and no concentration of stressors was found that suggest the species may be in danger of extinction in any portion of its range. A link to this proposed rule can be found here, and a link to the Sprague’s pipit USFWS species profile page can be found here.

The Sprague’s pipit inhabits native prairie grasslands and breeds exclusively in the Northern Great Plains. Its breeding grounds include areas in North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming, Minnesota, and Canada. The Sprague’s pipit wintering habitat is located in areas of Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Mexico. A map of its overall range and additional information about the species is located here.

If you have questions regarding the decision or how any state- or federally-listed species may affect your project, please contact aci consulting’s Austin office.

Posted by: In: SEPHCP 22 Dec 2015 0 comments

Header GraphicThe USFWS just posted a Federal Register document today detailing that the Southern Edwards Plateau Habitat Conservation Plan (SEP HCP) will be going into effect.  The SEP HCP is a regional endangered species plan for Bexar County.  Similar regional endangered species plans are in place in Travis, Williamson (and recently) Hays Counties, Texas.  The species that are covered in the SEP HCP plan are the golden-cheeked warbler, black-capped vireo, and 7 listed endangered karst invertebrates.  Projects in San Antonio/Bexar County can participate in the plan, though mitigation habitat can be acquired in Bandera, Blanco, Comal, Kendall, Kerr, and Medina Counties.  If you have a Bexar County project and are interested in participating in the plan for endangered species compliance or if you are interested in selling conservation land to the plan in any of the 7 counties, please contact aci and we will help you out.  Remember – golden-cheeked warbler survey season runs from March 15th through June 1st  and black-capped vireo season runs from April 10th through July 1st, so let aci know ASAP if you want your land surveyed in 2016!  Here is the website for the SEP HCP for more information: SEPHCP

Posted by: In: NPDES 14 Dec 2015 0 comments

6144On September 24, 2015 the EPA signed a final rule which will transition National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) reporting, and the corresponding Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (TPDES), from paper to digital submittals. The switch to mandatory digital submissions for NPDES reporting is intended to cut down on reporting errors that take place with paper reporting and will provide permittees authorized to discharge stormwater and wastewater with automated fact-checking and submission confirmation.

The new NPDES reporting rule will be implemented in two phases. Phase I, effective December 21, 2016, will require all Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs) to be submitted electronically. Facilities required to submit DMRs in Texas, such as temporary concrete batch plants operating under the TXG110000 Wastewater General Permit, will need to do so using the TCEQ’s NetDMR web-based reporting program. Phase II, effective December 21, 2020, will require all NPDES regulated entities to submit a notice of intent (NOI) and notice of termination (NOT) electronically. For operators authorized by TCEQ’s Industrial Multi-Sector General Permits and Construction Stormwater General Permit, these tasks will be reported by using the web-based State of Texas Environmental Electronic Reporting System (STEERS).

More information can be found here:

Environmental Protection Agency

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

If you have questions regarding how the new reporting requirements may affect your current NPDES permit or need to connect existing permits to the TCEQ’s reporting program accounts, please contact aci consulting’s Austin office.

Posted by: In: IPEC 18 Nov 2015 0 comments

_L4C2460Founder and Chief Executive Officer of aci consulting, Steve Paulson, will be speaking on Thursday, November 19th  at the 22nd International Petroleum Environmental Consortium (IPEC) in Denver, CO.  His presentation on large scale solutions to resolving Endangered Species Act conflicts will take place during the Legal & Regulatory Issues/Environmental Management, Compliance & Auditing technical session.

 

Read his abstract here.