Meet Some Environmental Consultants

by: Posted on: December 20, 2010

Editor’s Note: We have published this article because we believe it contains interesting information concerning the inner workings of environmental stewardship in the region.

Environmental Science Associates (ESA) is an employee-owned environmental consulting and planning firm with over 300 planners, scientists, and engineers. The firm has twelve offices throughout the West Coast and Florida. It was founded in 1969, shortly before enactment of several landmark laws, such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Clean Water Act, and the Coastal Zone Management Act, that greatly influenced environmental planning and analysis. Since then, ESA has grown into a company with a nationwide presence and wide range of planning, management, documentation and analytical services. In 2006, ESA merged with Adolfson Associates, Inc., a Northwest consulting firm with offices in Seattle, Olympia and Portland, specializing in environmental planning, biological science, and water resources.

In August 2010, ESA acquired Philip Williams & Associates, Ltd., (PWA), an environmental hydrology and engineering firm specializing in river and coastal restoration. The acquisition supports ESA’s strategy to strengthen technical services through specialized habitat restoration and water science services.

ESA’s mission is to have a positive impact on our natural and built communities by delivering sustainable solutions based on sound science and technical expertise.  The firm is committed to the principals of sustainability – economic, social and environmental – and has incorporated these principals into its business practices. This influences how ESA performs and interacts with its stakeholders, its communities (both social and environmental), employees, clients, and business partners.

What do we do?

With diverse practice groups and multiple offices nationwide, ESA’s core services are:

  • Resource and Land Use Planning
  • Federal and State and Local Environmental Compliance
  • Environmental Feasibility and Technical Studies
  • Regulatory Permitting and Compliance Monitoring
  • Restoration and Mitigation
  • Sustainability and Climate Change

Specific projects include the following examples:

Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project– 20 Management Measures Technical Report

ESA helped develop 20 management measures as part of a contract with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife in their efforts to restore and protect Puget Sound’s nearshore zone. Beach nourishment, channel rehabilitation and invasive species control are some of the 20 management measures developed as part of this project. The study area extends along 2,500 miles of shoreline from the Canadian border, through Puget Sound and along the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Cape Flattery.

Northgate Corridor Rezone Environmental Impact Statement

Hired by the City of Seattle, ESA developed a range of possible approaches to development in this north Seattle urban center for City evaluation and selection.  The City was looking for opportunities to increase the housing supply and stimulate mixed use development in the neighborhood.  This project focused development in an existing urban area, which reduces the amount of new impervious surfaces being created, capitalizes on existing infrastructure, and enhances transit ridership.

Columbia River Water Management Program Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement

The Columbia River Water Management Program will implement legislation to improve water allocation in the Columbia River basin. Under contract with the Washington State Department of Ecology, ESA prepared a programmatic Environmental Impact Statement including the evaluation of policy alternatives such as storage, conservation, and instream flow as well as early implementation actions. These alternatives were evaluated for their potential impact on social, economic, and natural resources. Even with our reputation as a state with abundant water, the allocation of water for in-stream and out-of-stream use has been a statewide challenge for decades. ESA assisted the State to bring stakeholders together to finalize the Columbia River Water Management Program and move forward on resolving some of the debate around water for agriculture and fish through projects like reducing the storage of water in Lake Roosevelt and diverting water from Banks Lake to the Potholes Reservoir in order to supply Columbia Basin irrigation districts.

Birch Bay Watershed Characterization Pilot Study

ESA led an Ecology- and EPA-funded pilot study of the Birch Bay watershed in Whatcom County. This study applied watershed characterization tools developed by Ecology and habitat assessment models developed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to identify priority areas for restoration, protection and development. The study produced a set of detailed recommendations for preserving and restoring water flow and water quality processes and maintaining high quality habitats. A key component of the study was an evaluation of build-out scenarios focused on expected changes in impervious surface due to proposed zoning. Alternative scenarios were developed to reduce impervious areas and improve water quantity and quality issues.

The above projects represent just a sampling of the many types of projects ESA is engaged in improving human interaction with our environment. Some of our other clients include:

  • School districts, such as Seattle Schools, to upgrade recreational facilities and rehabilitate their aging schools to maintain the historic centers of our neighborhoods and communities;
  • Sound Transit, Community Transit, Washington State Ferries, and other transportation agencies to improve our linkages between communities;
  • Native American Tribes such as the Lummi, Tulalip, and Grande Ronde, to help them restore damaged lands and develop mitigation banks;
  • Port districts, such as the Port of Los Angeles, in greenhouse gas assessments and development of a sustainability plans to help them save energy dollars, while reducing their carbon footprint;
  • Airports that need to minimize noise impacts or wildlife hazards;
  • Numerous cities and counties in their long-range land use, watershed, and shoreline planning efforts; water and wastewater agencies, such as the LOTT Partnership, Lakehaven Utility, City of Blaine, and Spokane County in the development of strategies to improve their utility systems and water quality; and
  • Renewable energy companies and public agencies who are working to address our ever-growing energy demands with wind and solar generation to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

ESA prides itself on working toward sustainable solutions, which often result in more cost-effective solutions as well. With the mounting stresses of climate change, habitat loss, endangered species, water shortages, and economic challenges, it is important to rethink our singular approach to analyzing and planning projects and embrace a more ecosystem approach, one that considers and values integrated and long-term solutions over short-term needs.

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