Wetland Delineation


Crescent Lake. Flagler County, Florida

Regulatory Scientist, Environmental Permit Reviewer

As part of a team of District Regulatory and Soil Scientists, Jessie assisted in the wetland delineation of a binding jurisdictional determination for a ~8,000 acre property historically used for silviculture. “Crescent Lake” was comprised primarily of pine plantation interspersed with cypress swamps, hydric pine flatwoods, mesic and hydric hammocks and freshwater marshes on the eastern shore of Crescent Lake. The enormity of the site and long historic use in silviculture require extensive forensic wetland delineation techniques coupled with GIS mapping and historical aerial interpretation. 

Hammock Creek (aka Restoration). Edgewater, Florida

Regulatory Scientist, Environmental Permit Reviewer
Jessie worked with a team of District Regulatory and Soil Scientists in the field review of a Formal Wetland Determination for a 6,200+ acre project site known as “Hammock Creek”.  She assisted the team by verifying wetland delineations within the property, a site historically used for silviculture. The property was comprised of a mosaic of pine plantation, cypress strands and domes, hydric pine flatwoods and freshwater marshes. The site also provided significant foraging and breeding habitats for a vast variety of wildlife, including some species protected under Florida law such as the Florida Black Bear.  The magnitude of the site, the significant acreage of wetlands, availability of natural habitats, and the presence of known wildlife corridors generated interest by local citizens and environmental groups. This interest resulted in a call for several public meetings in which Jessie represented the District to answer public questions on the ecological resources and quality of wetland habitats on the subject property.

Project Experience

​​​Benthic Macroinvertebrate Studies


Benthic Macroinvertebrate Taxonomy. Demorest, Georgia
Taxonomist, Project Manager
ECOS provided taxonomic identification of benthic macroinvertebrate (BMI) samples for the Soque River Watershed Association. This project was a component of necessary compliance with a Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GAEPD) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. Taxonomy of specimens was performed to the lowest taxonomic level possible and in accordance with GAEPD requirements. Project deliverables included an electronic copy of the laboratory bench sheet detailing all organisms identified for further data review, enumeration and basic metrics processing. In addition, ECOS provided a reference collection from the samples provided which included archived specimens of each taxa identified, preserved in specimen jars or as slide mounts.

Land Management Planning & Conservation


Twin Oaks Conservation Area. Osceola County, Florida
Associate Biologist
Jessie led the field inspections and biological assessments for the development of a Land Management Plan (LMP) for the proposed ~ 400-acre Twin Oaks Conservation Area in Osceola County. The site had been used for agricultural purposes since circa 1900 and most of the historical natural habitats were converted to agricultural use many decades in the past. The proposed conservation area proposed extensive restoration activities to restore native upland and wetland ecological communities, promoting viable fish and wildlife habitats.

Jessie assisted in the restoration and conservation plan by evaluating current site conditions, soils, hydrology, vegetative communities and existing habitats to develop the Desired Future Conditions (DFC) for the site.  Jessie provided oversight for GIS mapping of the conservation area, to include depictions of GPS-located wetland flagging, real-space limits of proposed ecological restoration and enhancement activities, locations of state and Federally protected plant and animal species, park facilities and amenities. Jessie also assisted in drafting the exotic and nuisance vegetation management plan with schedule for implementation and associated budget. This project also included a public outreach component where Jessie assisted with the development of presentation graphics and materials for public meetings and facilitated community involvement and support.

Makinson Island Land Management Plan. Osceola County, Florida
Associate Biologist
Jessie led the biological assessments and field inspections of the project site to support the development of a LMP for Makinson Island in Osceola County. Jointly managed by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the City of Kissimmee, the Osceola County School Board and the Osceola County Board of County Commissioners, the island site was purchased to enhance fisheries resources in Lake Tohopekaliga.  Makinson Island also contains recorded historical and archeological resources associated with early settlers of Osceola County and Native American civilizations that once inhabited the area. This unique site component required coordination with the Florida State Historic Preservation Officer.


To assist in the planning of restoration, conservation and land management activities for the LMP, Jessie evaluated current ecological site conditions of the island and developed DFC goals and objectives. She provided GIS mapping data including real-space limits of proposed restoration/enhancement activities and park facilities/amenities. She worked with prescribed fire managers to draft an integrated controlled burning schedule that would assist in achieving DFC and also address exotic plant species. Feral hogs were also well-established on the island prior to LMP implementation. Tactics to address the removal of this species from the island were also included in the exotic and nuisance wildlife management plan of the LMP. This project also included a community outreach component and Jessie assisted in facilitating community involvement, including public meetings and education.

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Environmental Assessments


Lakeland Linder Regional Airport Environmental Assessment. Lakeland, Florida  
Associate Biologist

Jessie assisted in the site evaluation and preparation of a NEPA document involving a detailed Environmental Assessment (EA) of upland and wetland communities within an area of the airport compound. The assessment involved a determination of potential Affected Environments of the proposed action and subsequent environmental review. This included an evaluation of biotic resources within and adjacent to the site to include vegetation and wildlife surveys, threatened and endangered species inventory, critical habitats assessments and preliminary ecological mitigation analysis.

Flagler County Airport Environmental Assessment and Environmental Permitting. Bunnell, Florida
Associate Biologist
Jessie provided the environmental permitting support, wetland delineation, permit compliance, and NEPA evaluations and document writing assistance for several projects on the airport compound. Jessie led the field reviews for the approval of binding jurisdictional wetland delineations for the Airport’s Runway Safety Area extension project.  She supported the preparation and documentation of an EA for NEPA compliance for that project. In addition, she assisted in the wetland delineation, environmental permitting and NEPA compliance for a separate runway relocation project at the airport, which also involved a Feasibility Study, Avoidance and Minimization evaluations and Alternatives Analysis. These studies also include listed species inventory, critical habitats assessments and preliminary ecological mitigation analysis.

ECOS Environmental Consulting, LLC, is a new, emerging Women-Owned Small Business in Tennessee. Our staff, however, have extensive experience with a variety of projects involving ecological restoration, environmental regulation and permitting. A former regulator with Florida’s St. Johns River Water Management District (District), Jessie Wheeler was responsible for the review of Environmental Resource Permits (ERP), a joint application between the District and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE).  In this role, Jessie performed field delineations of the limits of wetlands and Waters of the State, conducted evaluations of natural habitats, listed species surveys and made determinations on ecological mitigation needs.

Jessie also worked for a nationally recognized environmental consulting firm and served as the Project Manager for a variety of complex projects, including land management plans, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents, airport wildlife hazard assessments and wildlife hazard management plans.  We have included a few select past projects, below, which highlight some of the unique and complicated work Jessie has performed. 

​​Environmental Permitting & Mitigation


Selma Dixon Mitigation Bank Prospectus and MBI. Dallas County, Alabama
Project Scientist, Technical Writing Support
This project involves the establishment of a proposed wetland and stream mitigation Bank within the Cahaba River Watershed of central Alabama. Once approved, the Bank intends to restore over 30,000 linear feet of perennial and intermittent streams, enhance over 36 acres of associated riparian buffer habitat, and enhance more than 56 acres of forested wetlands – all of which will be preserved under a conservation easement, in perpetuity. ECOS assisted the mitigation banker by preparing the mitigation bank Prospectus for submittal to the Mobile District USACE and associated Interagency Review Team (IRT). The Prospectus for the proposed Bank was accepted by the IRT and passed through public noticing without comment. ECOS is currently assisting the mitigation banker with the drafting of the Mitigation Banking Instrument (MBI), which is pending review by the IRT. 

Big River Mitigation Bank Initial Checklist. Crittenden County, Arkansas.
Project Scientist, Technical Writing Support
ECOS assisted in the preparation of an Initial Review Checklist for a potential mitigation bank site located near the Mississippi River in West Memphis, Arkansas. The Checklist was reviewed and accepted by the IRT and the project is now undergoing further feasibility studies, site inspections, and ecological evaluation. 
 
Sandersville Mitigation Bank Prospectus. Jones County, Mississippi
Project Scientist, Technical Writing Support

This project involves the establishment of a proposed wetland and stream mitigation Bank within the Lower Leaf River Watershed of southeastern Mississippi. The Bank proposes to enhance over 110 acres of riparian buffer habitat and enhance more than 350 acres of forested wetlands – all of which will be preserved under a conservation easement, in perpetuity. ECOS assisted the mitigation banker by preparing the mitigation bank Prospectus for submittal to the Mobile District USACE and associated Interagency Review Team (IRT). The Prospectus is complete and pending review by the IRT. 

Riley Buck Mitigation Bank Prospectus. Newton County, Mississippi
Project Scientist, Technical Writing Support
This project involves the establishment of a proposed stream mitigation Bank within the Upper Leaf River Watershed of eastern Mississippi.  The Bank proposes to restore over 43,000 linear feet of perennial and intermittent streams and enhance over 275 acres of associated riparian buffer habitat – all of which will be preserved under a conservation easement, in perpetuity. ECOS assisted the mitigation banker by preparing the mitigation bank Prospectus for submittal to the Mobile District USACE and associated Interagency Review Team (IRT). The Prospectus is complete and pending review by the IRT. 

Wildlife Hazard Assessments (WHA) & Management Plans (WHMP)


Montgomery Regional Airport (MGM) WHA & WHMP. Montgomery, Alabama
Project Manager, Qualified Airport Wildlife Biologist
The WHA phase of this project included wildlife surveys conducted over a full one-year period using the most recently adopted Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture–Wildlife Services (USDA-WS) methodologies. The WHA study involved documentation and assessment of seasonal, local, and daily wildlife movements of wildlife in and around the airport to evaluate potential risks to aircraft at MGM, a Part 139 certificated airport. Additional data from nighttime “spotlight” surveys, game camera monitoring, and prey-base studies were also collected. 

This project involved an evaluation of agricultural land uses within the Air Operations Area and on other airport-owned property that served as wildlife attractants. This airport also served as the base operations for the Alabama Air National Guard (ANG) and Army National Guard (ArNG). An evaluation of potential risks to military aircraft were also examined. The WHA document detailed wildlife observations and trends, conclusions and recommendations to reduce wildlife hazards and attractants on and near to the airport. Considerations for alternative land uses better compatible with safe aircraft operations were included in the WHA and WHMP processes.

The project involved extensive coordination with airport staff, law enforcement, ARG and ARNG, the Alabama Department of Natural Resources, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and multiple stakeholders. Jessie oversaw the WHA methodology development, assisted in data collection, evaluation and preparation of the WHA document. She also assisted the MGM in the drafting of the WHMP.  Both the WHA and WHMP documents were accepted by the FAA upon first submittal. Jessie also assisted the Montgomery Airport Authority in the development of the MGM Wildlife Hazard Management Training for airport staff and served on the team of instructors for initial staff training.

SCTAC Donaldson Field (GYH) WHA. Greenville, South Carolina
Project Manager, Qualified Airport Wildlife Biologist
GYH is a Part 139 Certificated airport and also serves as the base of operations for the South Carolina ArNG Aviation Support Facility. The airport is one of the development and testing centers for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. This project included semi-monthly surveys conducted over 12-months using the most recently adopted FAA and USDA-WS methodologies including seasonal, local, and daily wildlife movements, integrated GIS analysis, and historical strike data review. Additional data from nighttime “spotlight” surveys, game camera photography, and prey-base studies were also collected.

The WHA document detailed wildlife observations and trends, conclusions and recommendations to reduce wildlife hazards and attractants on and near to the airport. This project also involved consideration of specialized uses at GYH, including a high degree of rotary wing aircraft operations by ArNG, including flight training and specialized maneuvers regularly conducted on the airfield. In addition, Lockheed Martin used GYH for routine testing and development of modified aircraft designs for heavy cargo aircraft like the C-130J “Superhercules”. The consideration of non-civilian and specialized aviation uses of the airport was important for the proper development of the WHA and recommendations to alleviate wildlife hazards for these unique aircraft. The project involved extensive coordination with airport staff, Air Traffic Control, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, USFWS and multiple stakeholders. Jessie oversaw the WHA methodology development, and assisted in data collection, evaluation and preparation of the WHA document which was accepted by the FAA in 2015 upon the first submittal.