TCG to Support USACE Portland District with Public Engagement for Willamette Valley System Operations EIS

TCG will be supporting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Portland District with their public engagement activities for the Willamette Valley System Operations Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in accordance with requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The EIS will provide a system-wide evaluation of the effects of USACE’s continued efforts in Oregon’s Willamette River Basin, which consists of 13 multipurpose dams and reservoirs spanning across 92 miles of riverbank protection projects in Oregon’s Willamette River Basin. The ongoing projects at these dams provide the area with flood risk management, hydropower generation, irrigation, navigation, recreation, fish and wildlife (hatcheries, water quality, adult and juvenile passage), and improved water quality use.

Our goal for supporting this project is to maximize public engagement and participation throughout the region in order to gather substantial community input that can help guide USACE in their study of project impacts and development of alternatives for the EIS. This will include Public Engagement Plan management, development of outreach materials, public meeting support and facilitation, and tracking and management of public comments and the distribution list for various stakeholders throughout the region.

We look forward to working with USACE in this effort. See this link to read more about the EIS: https://www.nwp.usace.army.mil/Locations/Willamette-Valley/System-Evaluation-EIS/

TCG Awarded New Contract to Support the Vermont Green Business Program

The Clark Group, LLC, a leading provider of innovative environmental solutions for business and government, has been awarded a new contract by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation to provide onsite assistance and outreach services for the Vermont Green Business Program (VGBP).

The VGBP is a voluntary assistance and recognition program for Vermont businesses that go above and beyond compliance to achieve sustainability in the Green Mountain State. TCG will be working directly with a variety of businesses to help them achieve ambitious sustainability initiatives and attain Green Business Program membership. Our support will include providing on-site business assessments and assisting businesses in the implementation of environmental best management practices for waste, water, materials and chemicals use. TCG is honored to have been selected to assist DEC and local businesses in achieving their sustainability goals.

To learn more about the Vermont Green Business Program, see this link - https://dec.vermont.gov/environmental-assistance/green-business

TCG Welcomes Victoria Gartman as New Associate

Victoria Gartman, former environmental specialist at FEMA, has joined the TCG team as an associate at our Washington DC office location. Ms. Gartman’s career has been focused in ecological management strategies to reduce impacts and restore habitats for wildlife. She has detailed experience in environmental policy and regulations including NEPA, CWA, ESA, and NMBA and excels at environmental planning, mitigation banking, and ecological restoration.

Prior to joining TCG, she was an environmental specialist with the Federal Emergency Management Agency providing technical assistance, consultation, and outreach to impacted communities to ensure compliance with all environmental and historic preservation laws and executive orders. Ms. Gartman holds a Dual Master of Science in Arid Lands Studies from Texas Tech University and Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany.

Former Associate Director for NEPA Oversight at CEQ Joins TCG Team as Senior Advisor

We are excited to announce that Mr. Horst Greczmiel, former Associate Director for NEPA Oversight at the Council on Environmental Quality, is joining The Clark Group, LLC to serve as a senior advisor providing his expertise on NEPA and federal environmental law.

 
Mr. Greczmiel served as Associate Director for NEPA Oversight at the Council on Environmental Quality for over 16 years.  Before joining CEQ, Mr. Greczmiel worked at U.S. Coast Guard headquarters in the Office of Environmental Law and served in the U.S. Army for 15 years. He received his B.A. from Lafayette College, J.D. from Rutgers - Camden School of Law, and LL.M. in environmental law from George Washington University, Washington, DC.

Associate Grace Vinson Earns Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM) Certification

This month, TCG Associate Grace Vinson passed the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) Certification Exam to earn her Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM) Certification. Since 1933, the ASFPM CFM certification has served as a foundation for local, state, federal, and private sector floodplain management professionals to enhance knowledge and understanding of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), floodplain management science and policy, and commitment to wise use and management of the nation's floodplains. Grace's CFM certification will aid in TCG's work on floodplain management policy, stakeholder engagement, and disaster resilience and mitigation. To learn more about the CFM Certification, visit asfpm.org.

Policy and Planning Consulting with VTrans

In July 2017, The Clark Group, as part of a team led by VHB, was awarded a 2-year retainer contract by The Vermont Agency of Transportation  (VTrans) Policy, Planning, and Intermodal Development Division (PPAID) to provide policy and planning support for various projects and programs within the agency.

This contract provides TCG with the opportunity to support PPAID’s Policy and Planning division in preparing and analyzing transportation system studies, policies, and plans while working collaboratively with local planning bodies, other State agencies, and the federal government. Our support includes providing analysis and expertise on statewide and federal plans, policies, and regulatory requirements for transportation programs and projects.

PPAID is responsible for preparing studies and plans for air, rail, highway, public transportation, bike-pedestrian, freight, and corridor management, energy and environmental policy making, providing support for state and federal Agency legislative activities, preparing grant applications, and performing theoretical and applied research projects. PPAID addresses regulations and requirements regarding energy demand, climate change, air quality, water quality, public transit, and rail planning. The division also manages a Statewide Consultative Planning Process through the Metropolitan Planning Organization.

TCG was selected due to our expertise supporting federal agencies with environmental policy and planning, and our in depth knowledge of law, science, and policy. We are excited to work with VHB to provide innovative support to the State as a complement to the work that the PPAID team is currently undertaking and also anticipating in the future.

Video Media in Federal Training and Outreach Programs

Videos are one of the most engaging ways to market to your community of stakeholders. The Clark Group is excited to work with Federal agencies to incorporate video media into existing communication strategies. This March, our team developed a training video for the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program entitled Building Knowledge with Energy Star: Energy Use Intensity & Weather Normalized Energy Use Intensity. This video will promote engagement with EPA ENERGY STAR and educate building owners and managers about metrics to assess energy performance. View the EUI video on the EPA ENERGY STAR YouTube channel.

Over the past two years, TCG has worked with the EPA ENERGY STAR program to advance its online, multimedia training platform. This work has included reconfiguring the industrial energy management homepage and landing pages, developing infographics in support of the National Building Competition campaign, and producing several training videos in collaboration with our subcontractor, DropFrame Productions, to showcase ENERGY STAR partners’ success and ENERGY STAR tools and resources. For each of these projects, we have translated policy and program objectives into engaging formats to improve the ENERGY STAR customers’ user experience.

To learn more about our multimedia services, please email Lisa Mahoney at lisamahoney@clarkgroupllc.com.

Celebrating The Clark Group, LLC’s Anniversary: 15 Years as a Leader in Environmental Consulting Services

Montpelier, Vermont: The Clark Group (TCG), a nationally known leader in environmental consulting services is honored to be celebrating its 15th year in business.  With offices in Montpelier, Vermont and Washington, D.C., TCG offers high-quality and client-focused consulting services at the local, state, and federal level.

Started by Ray Clark in 2001, The Clark Group was founded on the principle that integrating economic development with environmental protection would give any company, government, or Tribe a competitive advantage and open up new opportunities. Building upon this founding principle, we have used our in-depth understanding of law, science, and policy to help governmental, private, and nonprofit sector clients develop solutions to environmental challenges.  Started as a sole proprietorship in 2001, we have successfully expanded our business with offices in two states and a portfolio of clients across the country. 

“This anniversary is about recognizing our clients who have put their trust in us,” said Lisa Mahoney, President and Owner, “and our employees who work hard every day to find workable solutions to the most complex and challenging environmental problems. We are proud of the accomplishments we have made over the last fifteen years and excited about what we can do in the next fifteen and beyond.”

Projects managed by TCG have resulted in considerable improvements in planning outcomes through informed decision-making, stakeholder buy-in, and sustainable and resilient solutions.  We have unparalleled expertise in environmental policy and decision-making that has made concrete differences in the work we do for our clients. For example, TCG has been at the forefront of NEPA policy development and analysis, having worked for the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to develop A Citizen’s Guide to NEPA and to facilitate roundtable discussions regarding the modernization of NEPA.  Our in depth understanding of environmental law and policy is highlighted by the work we have done for diverse clients such as Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop programmatic analyses of rulemakings under NEPA. 

In recent years, our team has expanded our focus and gained experience and expertise in providing hazard mitigation planning, guidance on flood risk and climate resilience, and community engagement on resilience at the state, federal, and local levels.  For example, following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy and in response to a Congressional mandate, we worked with FEMA, CEQ, ACHP and DHS to create and implement the Unified Federal Review Process.  The UFR process is now being used to improve interagency environmental and historic preservation reviews for disaster recovery projects.   TCG is excited to build and expand on these successes in the coming years to assist our clients in realizing the benefits that the strategic integration of environmental and economic objectives can create. 

Advancement of Ecosystem Services into Agency Decision Making

Over the past several months, The Clark Group (TCG) has worked in partnership with EcoMetrix Solutions Group (ESG), a firm that specializes in quantifying impacts to ecosystems, to demonstrate how federal agencies can better identify and evaluate the benefits of ecosystem services to enhance federal decision making. This effort follows the Council on Environmental Quality memorandum, Incorporating Ecosystem Services into Federal Decision Making, which directs federal agencies to develop policies to promote consideration of ecosystem-services assessments within existing agency planning and decision frameworks. With TCG’s expertise in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a law which provides a required decision framework for federal actions, we recognize the role ecosystem services could play throughout NEPA analyses to improve environmental outcomes and expedite the environmental compliance of federal actions.

In September 2016, TCG, ESG and partners briefed agency representatives at the Council on Environmental Quality about an available tool, the ESII tool, to identify and measure the social and economic benefits from nature. The ESII tool eliminates the need for data collectors to have GIS knowledge and simplifies the creation of baseline and alternatives assessments, uncertainty risk analysis, and short- and long-term planning for agency decision makers. The tool can be applied to site- and program-level actions. Check out the tool here: www.esiitool.com

TCG is continuing to work with ESG to develop tailored solutions to the unique decision frameworks of federal agencies and determine how ecosystem services can be applied in federal planning processes. To learn more about our work with ecosystem services or to request a webinar or training, email Lisa Mahoney at lisamahoney@clarkgroupllc.com.

The Clark Group and the Implementation of the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard

TCG and Dewberry are supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the development of a guidance document and training for the implementation of the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (FFRMS).  The FFRMS is a new federal requirement which mandates that all federally funded projects located in a floodplain be built higher and stronger than previously required. The FFRMS is a critical resiliency standard which will impact billions of dollars of federally funded construction projects across the country, from highways and bridges to hospitals and housing complexes, at a time when flooding in the U.S. is getting worse every year because of climate change.

TCG and Dewberry’s approach to this project emphasizes intra-agency collaboration across FEMA’s technical and grant funding programs from the headquarters level to the field by engaging staff in meaningful discussions to generate FFRMS policy outcomes and decision points that are effective across the agency. Using our extensive knowledge of federal flood management policy and the requirements of Executive Order 13690, the team is facilitating working group meetings and conducting research to assist in the development of the new FFRMS guidance and training materials. Our approach incorporates the latest best practices and case studies focusing on nature-based approaches and green infrastructure, climate change, and resiliency, to ensure the guidance reflects current environmental policies and practices.  We are also developing scenario-based webinars that demonstrate how users can implement the FFRMS using both the Climate Informed Science Approach and the Freeboard Value Approach.

Because of FEMA’s unique role in overseeing the development and implementation of national flood policy, this new FFRMS guidance will serve as a model for other agencies on how to implement the requirements of Executive Order 13690.  FEMA’s approach to this new resiliency requirement is expected to have an influence across the country on national flood policies and implementation.