July 13, 2018: Lotus Springs into Summer with More New Hires

This spring, Lotus Environmental Consulting, LLC welcomed an additional two employees, Rachel and Kelly. Rachel Tonia, our new Environmental Scientist, will be working in our Natural Resources department, with a focus on wetlands, hazardous waste investigations and NEPA clearance.  Our new Office Manager, Kelly Isett, will be focusing on our billing and invoicing, as well as internal office management and other administrative support.


"We're excited to announce our expansion for both our Natural Resources and Administrative departments with the addition of Rachel and Kelly to the Lotus team!"  Katherine Farrow, President of Lotus, said.


Our Environmental Scientist, Rachel, is a graduate of Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Florida, with a B.S. in Environmental Science and her Masters in Environmental Policy and Management from Florida Southeastern University.  Prior to joining Lotus, Ms. Tonia served as an Environmental Protection Specialist for the Seminole Tribe in Florida. Rachel worked in Environmental Compliance and was responsible for writing permits as per NEPA regulations for the Tribe’s various construction projects.  She also was responsible for managing several Tribe-wide training opportunities including HAZWOPER, NEPA, and Florida Storm Water, Erosion, and Sedimentation Control Inspector training.


Our new Office Manager, Kelly, comes to Lotus from the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office in Norristown, PA, where she was employed as their Office Manager for ten years.  She has a variety of office and administrative experience in different types of agencies, such as attorney’s offices and governmental organizations.  At the County Coroner’s Office, she was responsible for bookkeeping, administrative oversight and other office support.  She also serves actively on the Board of Directors for the Norristown Public Library.


With both of their backgrounds, we’re sure they’ll be a great fit and will continue to grow here at Lotus!

 
 
 

Kelly (left) and Rachel

June 12, 2018: Bats & Bridge Inspections

Source: DOT Environmental Division

Here at Lotus, the environmental scientists and planners have worked on numerous bridge rehabilitation and replacement projects through Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware.  In Pennsylvania specifically, new changes have been implemented regarding endangered bat species and bridge inspection requirements.

There are two federally listed bat species in Pennsylvania, the Indiana Bat and the Northern Long-eared Bat.  In February 2018, the Programmatic Biological Opinion for Transportation Projects in the Range of the Indiana Bat and the Northern Long-eared Bat generated by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) was revised. 
 

Source: DOT Environmental Division

Lotus has been made aware that the USFWS is requesting bridge inspections for these endangered bats at the time of PA Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP)/U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) permit submissions for bridge or structure rehab and replacement projects that have PNDI hits for bats.  The following information is taken from Appendix D: Bridge Assessment Guidance (DOT Environmental Division):  

Many concrete bridges that span larger rivers in wide floodplains offer excellent areas for roosting.  These areas tend to have ample food supply and may serve as historic flyways for bats during migration (i.e. March – May and September – November).  These bridges may also offer opportunities for mating in late fall.  The cracks in concrete in the ceilings or walls and protective expansion joints also create a damp, dark ‘cave-like’ environment that is ideal for bat habitats.

Preliminary Indicators of Bat Presence:  The following physical observations can be easily made for bridges and the presence of just one of these signs on a bridge during the assessment is enough documentation to confirm bat usage.  Negative surveys are considered valid for one year.

Source: DOT Environmental Division

Visual & Sound

Bats flying or roosting (hanging), this usually occurs at least four feet from the ground.

High pitched squeaking or chirping, this may be helpful in locating bats within deep cracks or open joints of the bridges.

Source: DOT Environmental Division

Droppings

Bat droppings (also known as Guano) are small brown or black pellets.  Older droppings may be gray in color.   These will accumulate on the ground, floor of a covered bridge, or on structural components below roosting bats.  

Source: DOT Environmental Division

Staining

These may appear as wet, 4 to 6-inch-wide dark stains located on concrete support beams and walls immediately below the ceiling of the bridge, and beneath joints.  

According to the language outlined on the Bridge/Structure Assessment Form, Assessments must be completed no more than 2 years prior to conducting any work below the deck surface on all bridges, regardless of whether assessments have been conducted in the past.

Any bridge or structure suspected of providing habitat for any species of bat will be removed from work schedules until the DOT has coordinated with the USFWS. Additional studies may be required to determine what species may be utilizing the structures prior to allowing any rehabilitation or replacement work to proceed. Any questions should be directed to the project’s District Environmental Manager.

                                                                                                       To view the full Guidance Form, please follow the link below:

                                              https://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/section7/fhwa/pdf/AppDBridgeStructueAssessmentGuidanceMay2017.pdf
 

Gabrielle, left, and Rachel

December 4, 2017: We're Growing Here at Lotus!

This fall, Lotus Environmental Consulting, LLC welcomed two new employees, Gabrielle and Rachel. Gabrielle Vicari, our new Architectural Historian, will be working in our Cultural Resources department, with a focus on above ground historic structures.  Our new Marketing Coordinator, Rachel Weaner, will be focusing on our marketing outreach efforts, as well as internal technical editing support for proposals.

"We're excited to announce that we've expanded both our Cultural Resources and Marketing departments with the addition of Gabrielle and Rachel to the Lotus team!"  Katherine Farrow, President of Lotus, said.

Gabrielle is a graduate of the University of Delaware, with an M.A. in Historic Preservation, and a B.A. in History.  Prior to joining Lotus, Ms. Vicari worked as a Community & Preservation Planner in Wilmington, Delaware.  Gabrielle was responsible for conducting community outreach, as well as networking with other professionals, in order to foster successful land and cultural resource preservation efforts at Delaware Greenways.  She also worked closely with state agencies and various contractors to develop and implement detailed maps and multimodal transportation design options.

Our Marketing Coordinator, Rachel, is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, with a B.A. in Print Journalism.  Prior to joining Lotus, Ms. Weaner served as a Marketing and Event Coordinator for an at-home care organization in Northeast Philadelphia. Rachel was responsible for planning and attending events, writing and publishing monthly newsletters and brochures, and updating and maintaining the firm’s social media channels.

In addition, Rachel also worked as a Newsroom Editor for two years for Business Wire, an online news wire service.  Rachel’s editorial history includes editing a wide variety of press releases for a diverse range of clients, as well as professionally editing two novels, one of which was published in October 2017. 

With both of their backgrounds, we’re sure they’ll be a great fit and will be able to grow here at Lotus!

Sept. 8 2017: Grass Roots: Introducing Lotus U

Friday, September 8 marked the first session of Lotus University (Lotus U), a series of botany training sessions led by Andrea Finn, P.W.S., Senior Project Manager at Lotus Environmental Consulting.  Andrea launched this initiative to educate the other Lotus staff members in her botanical and wetland expertise.  She has over 25 years of experience in wetland delineation and mitigation, and her expertise extends far into both the public and private sectors. 

Andrea has been a certified Professional Wetland Scientist since 1998.   “I will be submitting my qualifications for recertification of my Professional Wetland Scientist designation,” Andrea explained. “And I thought that I could use my teaching skills as a scientist to train our staff in plant identification and provide some extra credit hours that I could apply towards that recertification.”

As some of the best-preserved grasslands in the Philadelphia area are located about 5 miles from the Lotus office, in Valley Forge National Park, Andrea and a few other members of our staff ventured out in the field to collect and examine samples of wildflowers and wild grasses.  With the upcoming fall season, she decided to put the group’s focus on native grasses and wildflowers so that they could be more easily identified while working in the field. 

Using plant keys and identification guides such as Lauren Brown’s Grasses, our environmental scientists were able to identify each of the 6 samples of grasses they had found in the grasslands at Valley Forge.  While Andrea is conducting these training sessions with Lotus Environmental staff only, she wants to one day extend this program into the community, with the hopes of educating others about plants and their native environments.

The Lotus U Botany Training Series will continue into the fall of 2017, featuring Goldenrods and Asters, as well as a Winter session in early 2018 focusing on trees and shrubs and hardy perennial herbs.