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Ecological studies are critical components of environmental and development projects, since they are necessary to identify important natural resources, remedial needs, and restoration opportunities that shape subsequent project designs.

As part of our comprehensive approach to client solutions, Woodard & Curran maintains a dedicated group of trained ecologists, scientists, and risk assessors experienced in solving complex problems associated with natural resources protection and site development. Our ecological services group provides services in two distinct but related areas: environmental permitting for site development and ecological risk assessment for contaminated site remediation. We have ecological and toxicological expertise in freshwater, estuarine, and marine aquatic systems, in addition to wetland and terrestrial ecosystems. Our capabilities include wetland mitigation and restoration, stream biomonitoring and benthic assessment, habitat evaluation, and stream restoration. We handle comprehensive environmental permitting needs for both site development and linear projects, and have the in-house staff and expertise to identify sensitive resources, understand and complete the necessary applications, and negotiate and design cost-effective mitigation solutions when necessary.

Because we work within the larger context of remediation or redevelopment projects, we understand how to address ecological and permitting issues in a way that supports the overall project schedule and budget. We combine big-picture vision with the detailed knowledge of the technical specialist, providing clients with a seamless approach to addressing the most complex ecological issues.

Woodard & Curran also provides comprehensive engineering support for permitting and redevelopment efforts.

Project Highlights 

Ecological Risk Assessment
Superfund Site Landfill

Woodard & Curran conducted a three-pronged ecological assessment of arsenic-laden groundwater discharging to a small freshwater stream at a Superfund landfill. The in-depth study consisted of a benthic macroinvertebrate community assessment, a 42-day bioassay, and detailed sediment sampling. The results showed that arsenic concentrations in sediment potentially had only a minor effect on stream ecology and consequently EPA decided that groundwater treatment was unnecessary, saving the PRP group several million dollars. EPA subsequently praised Woodard & Curran’s work as a model study for the ecological assessment of aquatic systems

Wetlands Restoration and Site Redevelopment
Long Island Sound, CT
Woodard & Curran was the prime contractor on a major waterfront redevelopment project of a contaminated former manufacturing site in Stamford, CT. The firm completed extensive site investigations, and conducted a comprehensive ecological risk assessment of the salt marsh to identify cleanup levels for marsh sediments. We collaborated to design a wetland restoration program that maximized the reuse potential of the property while creating a high-value wetland with both recreational and wildlife opportunities.

Stream Studies
Confidential Site
When a food processing facility accidentally released ammonia into a small river during a 2-hour maintenance event and caused a large fish kill, the facility hired Woodard & Curran to evaluate the reach of stream subject to toxic concentrations and the current ability of the stream to support fish. We conducted a detailed flow study, estimated ammonia concentrations at various points downstream of the facility, and conducted a macrobenthic survey to evaluate the condition and composition of the aquatic insect community within the affected reach. The evaluation showed that the affected length of river was significantly less than originally estimated by state investigators, and that benthic community was healthy, robust, and sufficient to support a restocked native fish population.

Stream Restoration
Westford, MA

Woodard & Curran worked closely with a confidential client and the Westford Conservation Commission to address stream erosion and degradation of a downstream freshwater wetland. An active block manufacturing company had dredged an intermittent freshwater stream channel to enhance drainage, resulting  in severe erosion of the stream bank, slumping of bank soils into the channel, and conveyance of fines into a receiving wetland. Woodard & Curran prepared a stream restoration plan, which specified reducing side slopes, installing hard armor and velocity dissipaters, and replanting banks with native vegetation. The firm took care to ensure that the concerns and objectives of each stakeholder were addressed, and the restoration plan was approved by the conservation commission.

Wetland Restoration Planning

Woodard & Curran developed a restoration plan for a site that once served as a tanning extract processing facility. The site is situated on a partially-developed parcel of land bordered on three sides by a tidal river estuary in eastern Massachusetts. The firm completed environmental investigations that indicated river sediments had been heavily impacted by chromium, which necessitated dredging of river sediments and salt marsh. The wetland restoration plan included the replacement of tidal mudflat areas as well as saltmarsh soils and vegetation, specifying wetland-specific soil types and regeneration of the natural marsh vegetation zones using locally grown Spartina and other species.  

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Janet Robinson