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Black Bear Habitat Project

Services: Environmental

Location: Patterson, LA

As part of the permitting process for a new pipeline installation, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries requested that our client mitigate for any losses to the Louisiana Black Bear critical habitat that may arise from the construction and operation of the new pipeline. The Louisiana Black Bear can be found throughout the Atchafalaya Basin and is a federally protected species. Certain habitat types that are essential to the species' existence are deemed Critical Habitat by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the proposed project was traversing through such an area.

The first step in addressing the wildlife agencies concerns was to survey the area, classify the habitat types, and assess the proposed impacts. A Louisiana Black Bear den tree survey and a vegetation survey were conducted. MPH identified several potential den trees and was able modify the proposed pipeline route accordingly to avoid impacting all but one tree. Even though impacts to den trees and potential den trees were almost completely avoided, the project would still result permanent and temporary critical habitat loss.

MPH was then tasked with proposing a plan that restores and improves the habitat within the project area. Limiting habitat features were identified and incorporated into our plan. The two key issues were recognized were the lack of hard mast species and the potential for invasive species establishment. MPH presented a plan that addressed both of these concerns. The plan stated that approximately 14,153 hard mast and fruit producing tree seedlings would be planted in areas that were cleared and would not be maintained. These areas were mostly temporary construction right-of-way. Once these seedlings were planted, the client would then provide invasive species control for three years.

The plans were approved, permits issued, and project was able to move forward. MPH was then tasked with coordinating the habitat restoration and improvement portion of the permit (i.e. planting the trees). After evaluating the available contractors, it was evident that MPH was best equipped to handle the task of sourcing and planting the seedlings. With the temporary addition of a 40-foot refrigerated trailer, MPH was able to source, secure and store oak, persimmon, and mulberry seedlings and prepare for the upcoming planting season.

A total of 14,271 seedlings were planted in 8 days by an average of 7 people per day. Planters averaged an impressive 446 seedlings per person per day. An amphibious marsh buggy was required to access a portion of the area to be planted. Because of the consideration and intensity by the people involved, the planting was completed ahead of the anticipated schedule.


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