About Restoration Systems

Our Vision

To be a positive force for the improvement of mitigation and restoration as a policy and an industry

Our work isn’t done until all environmental damage results in appropriate, cost-effective and timely restoration off-sets. RS seeks to increase the appreciation and usefulness of compensatory mitigation for policymakers, regulators, developers and environmentalists by performing superior projects and communicating our success in the following years.

Our Approach

Restoration Systems’ approach to compensatory mitigation since 1998 is to locate the very best restoration and protection opportunities and develop an enduring relationship of mutual trust and respect with our property owners, customers and regulators by doing what we said we would do — when we say we will do it.

When restoration rights are purchased, Restoration Systems draws on its deep experience and the specific skills of carefully chosen technical providers to present conservative, defensible and attractive plans for the restoration and protection of the property as mitigation.

When presenting our plans to government authorities and seeking permits to do our work, we treat our regulators with respect and understanding, keeping in mind the public trust they represent.

Above all, RS will build good mitigation– at a profit if we can, at a loss if we must. But always, good mitigation.

Our Values

Restoration Systems’ projects deserve and receive creative, focused, and professional attention.

  • heart Passion
  • Patience
  • biceps Persistence

Our Team

Experience, dedication, and commitment: RS prides itself on having more employees still working with RS over a decade after their start date than any other firm in the industry.

George Howard

Chief Executive Officer (1998) [email protected]

George is responsible for identifying growth opportunities for Restoration Systems outside of North Carolina and for the implementation of innovative mitigation in North Carolina. He is also a respected speaker for legislative and mitigation policy progress in the industry as a whole.

Working as staff in the United States Senate in Washington, D.C. from 1990 to 1996, George was responsible for environmental public policy, particularly wetlands, water quality and species issues. He recognized mitigation banking as an opportunity to return home to North Carolina and moved to Raleigh in 1996 to help sponsor the state’s first successful large-scale mitigation bank — the 660 acre Cape Fear Regional Mitigation Bank, now in its 24th year of documented ecological success.
His determination to make North Carolina a leader in private sector environmental mitigation led George to found Restoration Systems with John Preyer in 1998.

George has produced a number of cutting edge mitigation projects for Restoration Systems; including, the nation’s first large scale dam removals for compensatory mitigation, the nation’s first two retail water quality and nutrient off-set banks, and the largest stream mitigation bank in the United States (servicing Harris County and Houston, Texas).

George has testified to the U.S. Congress in support of the industry, is a former six year Director of the National Mitigation Banking Association, and a regular presenter at regional and national environmental conferences.

He was appointed in July 2012 by North Carolina Senator Pro-Tem Phillip Berger to the newly formed NC Mining and Energy Commission, charged with writing the rules for natural gas exploration in North Carolina, and in 2011 as a Trustee of the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund. In 2006 then Governor Michael Easley named George to the state’s Land and Water Conservation Study Commission. He recently joined the boards of the North Carolina Museum of History Associates and the First Flight Foundation of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

A 1989 Political Science graduate of the University of North Carolina, George grew up in rural Guilford County along the Deep River. He is the grandson of two engineers, and continues a family tradition of water related heavy construction. The former Paul N. Howard Company and Howard International completed more than 4,000 water quality projects in the Southeastern U.S. and twenty foreign countries. George and his wife Pam have two children, Georgia (17), and Henry (14), and live seven minutes from RS in Raleigh.

George posts regularly as the Swamp Merchant for Restoration Systems’ blog, and has more than 800 major journal scientific citations.

John Preyer

President and Chief Operating Officer (1998) [email protected]

John Preyer is the co-founder, President, and Chief Operating Officer of Restoration Systems.

John’s work in environmental policy dates back to 1992 when he served as Legislative Director for U.S. Senator Lauch Faircloth of North Carolina. In this capacity he had responsibility for all of the Senator’s committee assignments, including Armed Services, Banking, and Environment & Public Works. He regularly dealt with numerous federal regulatory agencies, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, as well as all corresponding state agencies, including the N.C. Department of Transportation, which was frequently requesting help in permitting new road construction.

While in the Senate he also worked on the Federal Mitigation Banking Guidance of 1995, which was a joint effort of the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to establish the framework for the policy of mitigation banking whereby private companies could, at their own financial risk, restore degraded wetlands and stream sites and sell them as “credits” to entities that were required to mitigate impacts to these resources.

In 1998, he joined with former Senate staffer George Howard in founding Restoration Systems. Starting out with just two people and one dog, the company quickly grew to a staff of over a dozen professionals with a strong skill set in environmental restoration and compensatory mitigation and to the leader it is in the environmental mitigation banking industry today.

From 2002-2006, John served on the board of the N.C. Coastal Federation, a nonprofit environmental group advocating for coastal rivers, creeks, and wetlands. Before joining the board, he worked closely with the NCCF’s executive director Todd Miller on obtaining the land for the North River Farms wetland restoration site. This project would become a marquee example for large scale coastal wetland restoration efforts.

John has been a member of the UNC-Chapel Hill Institute for the Environment Board of Visitors since 2011 and previously served on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Board of Visitors from 2012 to 2016. He joined the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees in July 2019 and is Vice-Chair of the Finance, Infrastructure, and Audit Committee.

Originally from Greensboro, John graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1990 with a B.A. in political science. He now lives in Chapel Hill with his wife and two children. John embraces the motto Facta, Non Verba.

Buzz Floyd

Chief Financial Officer (2013) [email protected]

Buzz joined Restoration Systems in 2013 as Chief Financial Officer. He grew up in a small town in Southern Illinois and spent as much time as possible enjoying the outdoors, gaining a strong appreciation for wildlife and conservation efforts. After graduating from Southern Illinois University he started his career in St. Louis, Missouri with a Fortune 500 company. There he learned the ropes of business operations and was soon assigned to North Carolina as controller for one of the company’s divisions.

The entrepreneurial itch first came when a senior executive asked him to partner in executing a leveraged buyout of the division. Buzz accepted, become CFO and a managing shareholder of the new company, and learned to fully appreciate that “happiness is a positive cash flow”. Buzz has since helped fast growth companies stay on track as both a CFO and consultant. In fact, several years ago he was hired by an investor to assess and evaluate Restoration Systems. Fast forward ten years and Buzz is lending his expertise in evaluating projects, creating joint ventures, and raising capital as the company’s CFO. He says, “I have a lot of respect for the passion of the team members here and their knowledge in the areas of the environment and mitigation banking. There’s a lot of gratification in what we’re doing. It’s fun to do good things for the environment and our team does it right.” Over the years that Buzz has been with RS, he has developed a strong knowledge base and understanding of the mitigation business sector, particularly in North Carolina but also Louisiana, Texas, and Virginia.

Buzz’s certifications include CPA (Certified Public Accountant), PMP (Project Management Professional), and Lean Six Sigma (Level: Black Belt). He is a long time resident of Chapel Hill, NC with his wife Tina, three children and his trusted hound, Knox. Buzz pursues many outdoor activities and counts tennis and fishing among his favorites.

Worth Creech

Senior Manager, Construction & Real Estate (2001) [email protected]

Worth Creech started his career with RS in 2001 installing monitoring gauges and busting beaver dams at Bear Creek, RS’ first mitigation site. For the past twenty years he has been tasked with overseeing the construction of nearly every site RS has completed to date. Having worked on over 50 mitigation sites in various stages of development and locations, Worth now serves as Senior Manager.

Worth spends his time finding opportunities for RS, overseeing construction, closing deals and striving for safety and efficiency for all RS sites. He works with landowners, attorneys, surveyors, consultants and contractors to facilitate the success of varying stream, wetland and nutrient sites. Worth most enjoys meeting with landowners and getting them comfortable with the mitigation process and following through with agreements. He works with others at RS and RS’ partners in government to see that RS’s Full-Delivery and Bank sites are built on time and meet contract requirements.

Worth grew up on the banks of the Tar River in Edgecombe County, teaching himself to fly-fish and how to enjoy the outdoors. Later he earned a B.S. in Construction Technology with a Minor in Geography at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC.

Worth has an unlimited General Contractors license in the state of North Carolina. During his free time, he enjoys being with his family, building things, and cooking over a fire. He is proud to be an Eagle Scout.

Raymond Holz

Manager, Operations (2010) [email protected]

Raymond came to Restoration Systems in 2010 as an intern and assistant GIS specialist. A native of Iowa, he has spent his whole life making maps, starting back in Montessori school when he would map the world through drawings and papier-mâché. Raymond graduated from NC State University’s College of Design with a B.A. in Landscape Architecture and the following year RS hired him full-time.

Raymond provides RS with a full range of GIS services, including site identification, landowner communications, contractor and government agency coordination, and acquisition. He oversees all RS projects in Colorado, which encompass a series of stream, wetland and endangered species mitigation projects all along the Front Range. Along with Ward Ellis, Raymond manages all of the company’s North Carolina projects and is also the RS representative for the Interagency Review Team lead by the US Army Corps of Engineers. He also spearheaded an entrepreneurial profit center within the company controlling invasive plant species and is often called upon to leverage his design background, using various software programs to make maps and prints for clients, regulatory agencies and internal use.

Raymond is a member of the North Carolina Association of Environmental Professionals and is a licensed North Carolina pesticide applicator for right of way, ornamental and turf, aquatic and forested areas. Raymond is fascinated by the flora of his adopted state, but still maintains his Midwestern work ethic when hacking his way through impenetrable foliage. As he says, “I’ve always loved water and now I get to play with water all day.”

Tiffani Bylow

Second Financial Officer (2006) [email protected]

Tiffani Bylow joined the Restoration Systems team as Office Manager in 2006. She attended college in Tennessee before moving to Raleigh, where she worked in accounting for Highwoods Properties. She has also worked as an Office Manager for Triangle Reprographics and EHG, an environmental remediation company, where she gained valuable knowledge about the environmental industry.

While Tiffani was hired as the Office Manager of RS, her role has evolved with the changing needs of the company. Tiffani manages the credit sales and company finance by working with Restoration Systems’ customers through the sales cycle to meet their mitigation needs as efficiently as possible. She is the Project Manager for the Milburnie Dam Mitigation Bank which includes coordinating with outside consultants on the engineering and monitoring of the former dam site and its surrounding areas. She consistently meets with state and federal agencies, including the Army Corps of Engineers, US Fish and Wildlife Service, NC Wildlife Resource Commission and Environmental Protection Agency to create and continue the successful progress of the Milburnie Dam Stream Mitigation Bank.

Tiffani lives in Raleigh and enjoys many beach weekends and attending concerts with her husband Tim.

Maegen Elsberry

Assistant to the Executives and Marketing Assistant (2020)

Barrett Jenkins

Senior Project Manager (2005) [email protected]

Barrett began work with Restoration Systems in 2006 after receiving his undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  His favorite projects include managing the creation of the private nutrient offset and buffer market in NC and negotiating the transfer of 1500 acres of riparian wetland mitigation for the North Carolina Global Transpark.  Over the course of 5 years Barrett gained experience in the various facets of project development with Restoration Systems and developed and sold mitigation credit to over 100 public and private entities.

He then spent five years between managing a hobby farm growing over 40 varieties of fruits and vegetables, working for an early stage mitigation company in Texas, and becoming a CPA by receiving his Masters in Accounting from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and subsequently working in the assurance practice at EY.

In 2016, Barrett returned full time to Restoration Systems and is currently responsible for the development and management of new mitigation projects.  He loves the challenge of finding the balance that works between landowner, regulator, and developer, with the overall goal of improving the market for aquatic resource mitigation through practice.  Barrett resides in Raleigh with his wife Brooke and two daughters Lily and Ava.

Jeff Corbin

Director, Environmental Policy and Water Markets (2016) [email protected]

Jeff joined Restoration Systems in 2016 and serves as the company’s Director of Environmental Policy and Water Markets. Growing up in Illinois, Jeff somehow became an avid SCUBA diver and decided to pursue an education on, and under, the water. Jeff earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Science from the University of South Carolina and a Master of Science degree in Oceanography from the University of Rhode Island, Graduate School of Oceanography.

At RS, Jeff is responsible for expanding the company’s visibility in water quality markets across a multi-state region. Prior to joining RS, for six years he served two EPA Administrators (Lisa Jackson and Gina McCarthy) as Senior Advisor for the Chesapeake Bay and Anacostia River. In that role he coordinated all aspects of the agency’s Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts and served as the chief liaison among the Office of the Administrator and numerous federal, state and local agencies and organizations. While at EPA, Jeff was an avid and outspoken advocate for the use of market-based conservation approaches. As he says, “After more than 20 years of restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay and other regions, one thing has become crystal clear to me – that we will not meet our ultimate restoration goals without an enhanced role for private sector restoration and conservation. Public funds simply won’t get us there and private entrepreneurs stand ready to play a bigger role. I believe that Restoration Systems, with its current talent and history of successes, can be a leader in expanding the role of the private sector.”

From 2006-2009, Jeff served Virginia Governor Tim Kaine as his Assistant Secretary of Natural Resources and worked with the Commonwealth’s six natural resource agencies. Jeff’s responsibilities involved many different aspects of protecting and restoring Virginia’s natural resources, including water, air, fisheries and land issues.

Before working for Governor Kaine, Jeff served for nine years as the Virginia Deputy Director and Senior Scientist for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. During that time he was an outspoken advocate for environmental protection throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. His duties involved various aspects of science, policy, education, legislation, advocacy, and media relations.

Jeff and his wife moved to Richmond, VA in 1996 and live there today with their two sons. An avid angler, Jeff likes to spend his spare time exploring the local rivers.

JD Hamby

Project Manager (2016) [email protected]

John “JD” Hamby joined the Restoration Systems team in the fall of 2016. JD’s role as a Project Manager is primarily focused on sites in North Carolina with most of his projects focused on fulling needs for the North Carolina Division of Mitigation Services. From the mountains to the coast, JD identifies sites, meets with prospective land owners, coordinates the permitting and construction, and monitors completed sites until closeout. As a company “Drone Master” JD gives RS an aerial view of projects to assist in mapping and monitoring of all RS sites around the country. The wide variety of tasks keeps JD on the go, but the end result of cleaner water, the restoration of natural environments, and satisfied land owners provides his motivation.

A native of Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, JD followed in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps by attending North Carolina State University, graduating with a degree from the Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics in 2015. His studies of the convergence of environmental and economic capital sparked his interest in mitigation banking and made Restoration Systems a perfect fit. JD lives in Raleigh, and when he is not at work, he can usually be found either cheering the Wolfpack — or on any body of water where he can hunt, fish, sail, or ski.

Josh Merritt

Project Manager (2019) [email protected]

Josh Merritt, one of the newest members of the team, came to work for RS in November 2019 and serves as a Project Manager for all North Carolina projects. He earned his B.S. in Environmental Technology and Management with Minors in Biological Science and Toxicology at NC State University in Raleigh, NC. After graduating, Josh worked at Carolina Silvics, Inc as a Vegetative Management Scientist performing site maintenance tasks such as planting native vegetation, invasive species removal, marsh planting, coastal shoreline stabilization, and monitoring of vegetation for various clients, including RS. He now has over 5 years of forestry, stream and wetland mitigation, and Stormwater/BMP management experience under his belt and is excited to be working with RS.

Josh provides RS with his acquired ecological plant knowledge to better manage stream mitigation sites. He also can use his skills to identify potential future project sites. He is excited about other tasks that lay ahead within the RS organization.

Josh has an NC Pesticide License and is a certified Timber Cruiser. During his free time, he enjoys outdoor leisure activities such as hiking, gardening, fishing, and hunting. Josh has always loved being in the outdoors and is glad he has chosen a career that not only allows him to spend a lot of time in the great outdoors but to also manage it.

Grainger Coughtry

Project Assistant (2020) [email protected]
Grainger Coughtrey is a new employee at Restoration Systems who is starting as a Project Manager designing and constructing living shorelines. He graduated from Appalachian State University in 2015 with a degree in Recreation Management which helped cement his love for the outdoors and conservation. After graduating, Grainger began working for Carolina Silvics as a Forestry Technician where he performed various tasks in the environmental field, focusing on wetland restoration and shoreline stabilization. At Restoration Systems, he is using this experience to help improve current wetland mitigation sites and continue to protect our coastlines with living shorelines constructed from recycled oyster shells and native coastal plants. When not working, Grainger enjoys his free time by reading, drawing, cooking, hiking, playing tennis, going to concerts, and spending time with family and friends.

Alex Baldwin

Senior Soil Scientist (2018) [email protected]

Alex joined Restoration Systems in March 2018 as a Senior Environmental Scientist, providing his skills as a licensed soil scientist and professional wetland scientist. Alex graduated from NC State University with a B.S. in Natural Resources – Soil and Water Systems and a M.S. in Soil Science which focused on researching hydric soils of restored wetlands.

As a part of the Restoration Systems’ team, he continues to pursue his interest in ecological restoration projects. He provides extensive technical expertise as it applies to site identification, project design and construction, and resolving potential issues that arise during monitoring. He supports other aspects of project development and execution including GIS support, technical writing, permitting, and regulatory coordination. Alex is a member of the North Carolina Association of Environmental Professionals, Society of Wetland Scientists, and Soil Science Society of North Carolina.

Alex lives in Raleigh, NC where he enjoys attending local music events, anything Wolfpack related, and traveling with his wife and children.

Matthew Harrell

Senior Habitat Ecologist (2018) [email protected]

Matthew joined Restoration Systems in 2018 as a Senior Project Manager. He has previous experience in the environmental mitigation field, but most recently spent six years working in local government. His thoughtful and dedicated approach helps ensure that Restoration Systems projects consistently meet and exceed success criteria.

In the office, Matthew draws on strong research and GIS skills as well as project planning and cost estimation experience. In the field he keeps projects on track with an eye for efficiency and a strong background in ecology. He is an NC Certified Prescribed Burner, licensed herbicide applicator, and maintains involvement with the NC Chapter of The Wildlife Society. In past years he has actively served on the NC Prescribed Fire Council, NC TWS, and presented at the NC Invasive Plant Council annual meeting.

A native of Middlesex, North Carolina, Matthew earned an Environmental Studies degree from the University of North Carolina. He has always enjoyed both open water and wetlands, and has a personal goal to paddle all the major rivers of NC. He lives with his wife and two children near Raleigh.

Wes Newell

Senior Design Specialist, QAQC (2019) [email protected]

Wes Newell, PWS, NCRCPS

Wes Newell has been involved in the design and/or construction of over $50,000,000 in funds for environmental restoration projects.  Restoration plans have been developed and constructed on individual projects with funding of over $4,000,000.  Designed and/or constructed 200+ environmental projects over the last 30 years, encompassing more than 170,000 linear feet of channel, 32 dams, and 10,000 acres of restoration land.  Wes maintains experience in all phases of planning, design, and construction.

Wes’s work includes 30+ years identifying, designing, permitting, and constructing river/lake restoration, dam removal, stormwater, hydrologic development, wetland, and environmental restoration projects.  Environmental plans have been developed and/or constructed on large scale projects including the N.C. Global TransPark, Randleman Reservoir, Piedmont Triad Regional Airport (Fedex), Pope Air Force Base, N.C. Department of Transportation, S.C. Department of Transportation, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Municipal Reservoirs, American Rivers, N.C. Division of Mitigation Services, and the Tennessee Department of Transportation. 

 

WORK / EDUCATION 

President, Restoration Systems Design-Build Division (current)

President, Backwater Environmental, 2001-2019

Vice President, EcoScience Corporation, 1998-2001

Senior Project Manager, Environmental Services Inc., 1992-1998

Research Associate, Hydrology Lab, Clemson University, 1990-1992

Masters Degree, Clemson University, Landscape Ecosystem Classification, 1992

Regional Hydrologist-Aquaculture, U.S. Agency for International Development, Zaire Africa, 1987-1990

Bachelors Degree, Clemson University, Biochemistry, 1987

Research Assistant, Clemson University:  Water Quality Analyses / Aquaculture, 1984-1987

CERTIFICATIONS / TRAINING

Professional Wetland Scientist (PWS),

Professional Soil Scientist (N.C. Registry of Certified Professionals (NCRCPS)

Level 4 Rosgen River Restoration and Natural Channel Design

Hydrogeomorphic (HGM) Wetland Functional Assessment

Mary-Margaret McKinney

Director, Coastal Restoration (2020) [email protected]

Mary-Margaret is a NC Registered Forester and holds a Master of Science in Forestry with a Minor in Plant Community Ecology from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her thesis was “Effects of Clearcutting and Selective Harvesting on Hardwood Forest Understories in the Southeastern United States.” She also holds a Bachelor of Science in Botany from N.C. State University and graduated cum laude in 1994.

Mary-Margaret has been literally knee-deep in mud on wetland mitigation sites since 1994. From field research on wetland restoration sites to performing delineations and site searches to overseeing project implementation and regulatory coordination, she has been involved in all aspects of wetland and stream mitigation and restoration from Georgia to Delaware for over 25 years.

As an Environmental Scientist for Landmark Design Group from 1996 to 2001, Mary-Margaret was in charge of mitigation site planning; EIS/EA preparation and public involvement; wetland delineations; and wetland permitting throughout NC and VA. She was instrumental in the development of the first Memorandum of Understanding for a private mitigation bank in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the opening of the first commercial mitigation bank in Virginia.

As President of Carolina Silvics, Inc. from 1999 to 2020, Mary-Margaret oversaw the vegetation management of over 275 restoration sites, including a rare NC Piedmont Prairie; oversaw SFI BMP compliance for the NC Forestry Association; assisted the US Navy on environmental contracting projects including EIS/EA preparation, forest inventory, and invasive species inventory and management on over 13,000 acres; and worked with the NC Coastal Federation to transition oyster shell-bag living shorelines from a research-level idea into a commercially viable option for coastal landowners.

Mary-Margaret understands that trust and mutual respect for the needs of various stakeholders is the key to a successful project. As Director of Coastal Restoration for Restoration Systems, Mary-Margaret works with with private landowners, municipal leaders, coastal regulators, and non-profit scientists to ensure that our coast is protected and our shorelines are resilient for generations to come.