While the State of California continues to invest significant funds for increasing the pace and scale of forest health initiatives, there remains an appreciable lack of capacity among agencies and NGOs to adequately complete the NEPA/CEQA review process.
The present challenge is threefold:
In short, without agile, informed support, agencies and stakeholder groups will continue to struggle with project planning, implementation, and monitoring efforts.
To expedite regulatory and compliance review, Great Basin Institute (GBI) will increase support for biological and cultural assessments required to support the NEPA/CEQA process across zones. Presently, GBI resource specialists support the BA/BE document analysis and the required resource surveys needed for the project record. To further this support, the Institute will establish dedicated NEPA strike teams that work across agencies and NGOs to facilitate prioritized projects and respond rapidly to various planning needs across zones. An annual planning meeting with zone working groups will establish a program of work for the year and will detail the range of technical assistance required, either assigning full support for NEPA documentation, or offering partial support for the associated field work. The Institute will utilize existing regional agency USFS/BLM Cooperative Agreements while developing MOU agreements for non-federal stakeholders.
GBI prepares federal and state environmental reports required by NEPA and CEQA, including the following services and environmental compliance documents:
GBI is especially adept at preparing joint federal/state environmental documents with multiple-agency jurisdictions, including joint EIR/EISs and joint EA/ISs.
Rick A. Sweitzer, M.S., PhD, University of Nevada, Reno (1990, 1995) is a Wildlife Biologist with over 35 years of research experience, compliance, and teaching experience in the Western United States. Rick has held professional positions at the University of California Davis (Postdoctoral Research, Adjunct teaching), University of Alaska, Fairbanks (Visiting), the University of North Dakota (Assistant and Associate Professor), and the University of California, Berkeley (Research Professional/Associate Professor). Rick first joined The Great Basin Institute in 2013 when he spent several years working on data analyses, and completed multiple important publications on the population biology and conservation-associated aspects of Pacific fisher ecology in the Southern Sierra Nevada, California. In addition to experience with NEPA and Endangered Species Act compliance (Biological Assessments/Evaluations, Management Indicator Species Reports, etc.), Rick has over 50 peer-reviewed publications in science journals including the Journal of Wildlife Management, Ecology, Conservation Biology, Forest Ecology and Management, Oecologia, Journal of Mammalogy, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Journal of Wildlife Diseases, and others.
John Umek, PhD., University of Nevada, Reno (2015) supports GBI water resources program and is Assistant Research Professor with the Desert Research Institute and has 18 years of experience in aquatic ecology, water quality monitoring, and natural resource management. He is experienced with a range of statistical methods, numerical modeling, and working with invasive and endangered aquatic organisms. He has extensive field surveying and water quality monitoring experience. Current and former projects include working on an interdisciplinary NSF project focused on springs biota structure and condition across the Southern Great Basin, impacts to springs overtime in the Eastern Great Basin and Lahontan Cutthroat trout movement in Central Nevada.
Sean Simpson, MA, University of Nevada, Reno, Reno (2010) is the Institute’s Senior Consulting Archeologist and has expertise in NEPA compliance inventories for mining, gas, oil and communication infrastructure on Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service public lands across Nevada, Washington and Oregon. Mr. Simpson has performed archaeological inventories and architectural assessments of irrigation and bridge features for the Army Corps of Engineers and has expertise and extensive experience in completing district evaluations of historic mining districts in central and northern Nevada, including Manhattan, Kinsley, Rochester, Yerington, Pine Grove, Rockland, Fairview, and Bell Mountain mining districts.