Swamp Love: RS' Jesuit Bend stars in reality show

On Friday night Episode 307 of “Sweet Home Alabama” aired. We allowed the reality show to use our beautiful swamp at Jesuit Bend as a filming location last month.

Never thought I’d see anyone “make out” on TV at one of our mitigation banks!

I can’t seem to get the video to “embed,” but see here for the episode.

Blogging for the Gulf: RS joins in

Blogging for the Gulf: A proposition

Reposted from Nature Blog Network here

No doubt every nature blogger was avidly following the ongoing tragedy of the Deepwater Horizon disaster earlier this year from its stomach-churning beginning to its unsettled conclusion to the frustrating way the public eye was removed from the still suffering people and ecosystems of the Gulf Coast once BP got their Sharper-Image-reject level technology to finally work (a cap! Getouttatown!).

Indeed for three long months anyone and everyone who cares about nature was held rapt by failure after failure after failure.  It was at some level it was self-salvation, to become absorbed by the human drama because the very real effect on the Gulf ecosystem seemed too catastrophic, too overwhelming, to fully internalize.  To dwell too much was, and still is, physically sickening.   All the more because the fallout from all of this remains a mystery, and the corporation responsible has been for the most part successful in sweeping so much of this epic mess under the rug assisted by a complicit media with the collective attention span of a cocaine-addled goldfish.  To say it’s maddening is an understatement of oil plumed proportions.

Read more

Paul Howard Company launches dredge Noble Warrior in defense of our coastlines

The Paul Howard Construction Company, owned by the brother of the Swamp Merchant, recently launched a new boat designed to engage in the difficult and tricky work of coastal dredging — particularly coastal marsh restoration.

Swamp Brother’s craft, the Noble Warrior, was set a-sail in the bonny port of Beaufort, North Carolina, along with her loyal boat, Noble Tender.  They join a sister ship in-operation, dredge Noble Spirit.

NOBLE WARRIOR

It is exciting to see my brother engage in this new venture. The family tradition of water-related heavy construction is old. The Paul Howard Company, and it’s predecessor firms, Paul N. Howard Company, Howard International, and the Howard Management Group, date to the early 1920’s. The company’s North Carolina construction license is #80. There are very few contractors large or small on earth with the track-record of successful projects this organization enjoys.

Click the photo above to learn more of the history of Paul Howard Co.

RS is proud to share a little DNA with PHCC.  And seeing as how RS plans to move a few million yards of dirt ourselves — it is even possible our path cross the Howard company’s in the “Bayous to Be” of south Louisiana.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

The Noble Warrior Specs:

18″ x 16″ Cutter Suction Dredge and Idler Barge

State of the art dredge built to be truckable, versatile and maximize production. Less than 1 year old. Low hours

General Conditions:
Digging Depth 34′ @ 60 deg. Can be easily lengthened
Ladder Length 40′
Total Weight Est 220,000 lb
Hull Depth 5′
Mean Draft 40″
Hull:
Center Section 53’x10’x5′
SidePonttons 6’x75’x5′
Overall Main Dredge 22’x90’x5′
Hull Thickness 1/4″ skin
Watertight Bulkheads Avg. every 10′

NOBLE TENDER

Idler Barge

Carridge Spud 40’x5’x12′
Spacer 40’x’4X12
Dredge Pump:
Pearce
Suction 18″
Dischage 16″
Impellar Diameter 40″
Cutter:
Vosta Basket Style 58″ Replaceable teeth
Drive Planetarty gearbox with water lubricated cuttless bearings
Torque 300,000 ib-in 200 HP
Speed 0-25 RPM
Power
Dredge Pump Cat C-32 1125 HP
Auxilliary Cat C-11 420 HP
Winches: Pullmaster M18
Swing Winch (2 Ea) 18,000 lb
Ladder Winch 18,000 lb
Spud Winches ( 2 Ea) 18,000 lb
Spuds ( 2 Ea)
40′ Round 1/2″ Wall
Hydraulic System
Valves Electr-proportional
Pumps Geartek gear pumps
Motors Geartek gear motors
Contamination Protection Pre strainers and10 Micron filters
System Releif All circuits set at 2500 psi
Operator Cab 8×10 Air Conditoned

NOBLE WARRIOR CUTTER HEAD

Misc.

Aluminum Speed Rail for entire dredge perimeter
Special ergonomic operator seat with integrated joystick controls
Heatshrunk electrial connections and elctrical grease on connections
Three job cranes for service of pump, spuds and misc.
Inside of all hull sectons painted
Penberthy pump primer
Heavy duty service water pump
Serive boat docking station
20′ shipping Container ( Shop and Spare Parts)
Berthhold Mass Flow density meter
Computer automated swing controls
Computer automated production and data logging
Also Available
Booster Pump ( Brand New) 16x18x46
(Zero Hours) Cat C-32 1125 HP

Dredge Tender Tug Boat (Brand New) 20 hours
Twin Screw JohnDeer 400 HP

Two service fuel barges

10,000 L.F. of 20″ SDR 17 pipe used on one job pumping silt

NOBLE WARRIOR


NOBLE SPIRIT



UNC School of Government Study of EEP: Solid as Banana Cream Pie

UNC School of Government Study of EEP: Solid as Banana Cream Pie

This past Friday the UNC School of Government released its “Phase 1 Report” on evaluating the Ecosystem Enhancement Program’s method for procuring its mitigation.

As all long suffering followers of the inner workings of the ‘black box’ known simply as EEP understand, there are two separate processes for this: 1) a competitive bid system known as Full Delivery in which the provider assumes all liability for delivering the contracted amount of mitigation without an any change order provisions and is fully bonded, and 2) an arbitrarily awarded design contract (not competitive bid) for projects from a list of ‘on-call’ design firms which is then subsequently farmed out to bid for only the construction component known as Design Bid Build.

One would have assumed that UNC would have actually looked into the mechanics of these two methods and drawn some conclusions or at least made some salient observations. Oh wait, if that’s what was done then there would actually be something useful coming from this process. Instead, all that UNC did is establish a set of criteria for how to evaluate the two methods and with apologies to my friends at UNC—a third grader could have come up with the two main ones: effectiveness and transparency. The SOG work so far has been analogous to a round table discussion of the shade of black on the side of the box, with little discussion of what’s inside and why nobody gets to see it.

Was it really necessary to engage dozens of stakeholders in the process to come up with those revelations? Can you say ‘pass the butter knife so I can cut the banana cream pie’?

As one of those stakeholders who falls under the category in the study of “Mitigation Provider” i.e. one who actually does this work and has been well acquainted with both EEP and its DENR management since before the 2003 start of the program, let me add one point of clarification to the second sentence of the second paragraph on page 1 of the study which reads “DENR’s new leadership identified a need to have an objective third party review EEP’s procurement process.” WHOA!

There is an elephant in the room here and it needs to be acknowledged. The Assistant Secretary of DENR ever since the EEP has existed, Robin Smith, is married to Mike Smith the head of UNC’s School of Government. Now, both

and Smith are well regarded in their respective capacities and I am not trying to imply any cronyism was at play in the decision for DENR to give UNC the $25,000 contract for this study. After all, if DENR had wanted to bring in Bain Consulting to perform a thorough top to bottom review of the EEP, as UNC did when it had Bain study its layers of overlapping university bureaucracy, it would have cost a heck of a lot more than $25k.

However, I am disappointed that the study offered no disclaimer to this obvious reality which was discussed by several stakeholders outside of the series of meetings. It does neither institution any favors when even the appearance of a potential conflict of interest is involved, especially so when it is not duly acknowledged in an allegedly “transparent” process.

The one clear take away result from the study is that what is likely to come next—you guessed it, is another study! One can only hope that the Phase 2 Report actually comes up with real analysis and recommendations.

If not then we ‘stakeholders’ better be prepared for more banana cream pie. One can only wonder what the budget is for another serving of the same mush?

BrassGrill

The Flying Turkey takes more air photos

When Pam and the kids and I visit our family in Beaufort, North Carolina, I often take the opportunity to hire a small plane at the friendly Michael J. Smith Airport to take photos of nearby RS sites. I did so yesterday and enjoyed nearly perfect conditions.  Here are some pictures of the Bear Creek, Jarman’s Oak and Lloyd wetland and stream mitigation sites. (As regular readers will recall, I flew Bear Creek earlier this month. But I returned this time WITH my stabilized lens).

I also flew the North Carolina Coastal Federation’s North River Restoration Site, about which I have provided some background below.

Note: If you “click through” the photo box you can more easily read captions and navigate the photos.

Enjoy!

Below are some photos of North River Farms, which is being restored by the North Carolina Coastal Federation. This project is near and dear to RS’ heart. RS owned the option to purchase this 6000 acre farm in the 90’s. Determining that the farm had significantly more restoration potential than could be used as mitigation in the watershed (unless Cape Canaveral were relocated to the NC coast), we contacted the NCCF and suggested they take our option and make an application for its restoration to the then newly formed NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund.

The rest is history. The project is now one of the largest coastal restoration projects in the nation. We retained 390 acres within the farm, for which RS was recently awarded a grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service to restore and protect. Brassgrill and I will blog in the future and tell you more about this project.

Video: "George" Double-Dipping

When is Credit Stacking a Double Dip?
The issue of reusing a restored environmental asset will come up again and again as new environmental markets emerge.
by Alice Kenny

Flat Out Wonderful: RS teams with Houston's Katy Prairie Conservancy to sponsor the nation's largest stream mitigation bank

Restoration Systems is excited to share the news of our latest (and greatest) proposal for a mitigation bank outside of North Carolina.  RS, the Katy Prairie Conservancy of Houston, and the Warren family have entered a long-term Joint Venture to develop the nation’s largest stream mitigation bank on the 6000 acre Warren Ranch in northwestern Harris County.

The historic Warren Ranch is the largest working cattle ranch in Harris County and one of the last remaining spreads of its character and size on the perimeter of Houston.  As proposed, the bank will service the compensatory mitigation needs of nearly six million people as the city sprawls westward.   All told, the project will restore, enhance and preserve streams and wetlands over 20 miles of the ranch.

The Katy Prairie Conservancy, one of Texas’ oldest and most respected Land Trusts, plans to dedicate their share of  project proceeds to help retire the debt on the Warren Ranch and restore and permanently protect it to native prairie grassland.  The prairie ecosystem west of Houston has suffered severe degradation in the past. Today it faces obliteration by the relentless march of the city to the west.

RS is very fortunate to have found our farsighted partners, the KPC, its Executive Director Mary Anne Piacentini, and the Warren family.   We look forward to filing you in on the details of the project and updating you as it progresses.   For now, please enjoy the videos below of the Flat Out Wonderful Warren Ranch.

New Photos of RS' Bear Creek Wetland Mitigation Bank — Year 8 Since Restoration

I enjoyed great weather today for a flight to take some pics of RS’ Bear Creek Wetland Mitigation Bank straddling US 70 between Goldsboro and Kinston, NC. My family and I are staying with friends further east in Morehead City, and the nearby Beaufort, NC, airport is a convenient place to get up for some photos. Unfortunately, we had less than two hours for the flight and I was unable to photograph any other RS sites in the region.

But Bear Creek is special and can justify its own trip. It is the first project Restoration Systems put in the ground, in 2001. The wet and sloppy areas you see in these photos were bone-dry cornfields before we purchased, restored and protected the wetlands eight years ago. We planted twenty native species and 200,000 trees, as well as removed agricultural levees and backfilled major canals and drainage ditches. The Bear Creek bank and its associated site, Sleepy Creek, required the assemblage of over 1000 acres of property from more than twenty land owners at three locations in Lenoir and Craven Counties.

I look forward to putting up some “before and after” photos of Bear Creek. We have been taking photos of the mitigation bank since 1998 and can show in vivid detail the miracle of environmental restoration.

Feel free to click on a pic to be taken to Google Albums. From there you can play them full screen or download them!

Update: I put some photos of a ground reconnaissance hike we took at Bear Creek a little over a year ago:


View Larger Map

VIDEO: Carbonton Dam river trip before removal…set to music!

Here’s a short music video I made following a preliminary reconnaissance trip on the Deep River hosted by Restoration Systems for the NC Division of Water Quality. Three years later, in 2006, we removed the Carbonton Dam in order to restore the area through which we are traveling from impoundment to natural river. The lowered impoundment revealed rapids and channel features not seen since the early 1800s. The newly restored river has subsequently thrived, including the re-establishment of the federal listed Threatened and Endangered Cape Fear Shiner, which was reported nationwide.