Expert Q&A: Vince Dick on natural resources assessment & impact mitigation
Vince Dick is a Senior Vice President with Haley & Aldrich and is responsible for developing and implementing environmental permitting programs. With Haley & Aldrich for well over 25 years, Vince has developed and completed environmental projects in 27 states, as well as in Puerto Rico, Mexico and Caribbean locations.
Where does resource assessment fit into the environmental protection equation?
It’s typically used in the early stages of project development to secure the necessary permits required to proceed with a project. A number of federal and state regulations require an assessment of the environmental impacts that may result from a proposed construction plan before a permit to proceed with one or more elements of that project will be issued. Basically, it’s a way of assuring that the environment is protected and public and community interest in potential environmental consequences of a project are considered before a shovel goes into the ground.
What goes into a resource assessment?
There are three phases: scoping the assessment to determine the range of impacts that might result to the ecosystem in question, and what regulations apply; the analysis of each of those issues; and then generating alternatives as required to eliminate or reduce the impacts to acceptable levels. In addition to potential natural resource impacts, there are also cultural resources that are evaluated under the umbrella of environmental impact analysis, such as whether the project development could negatively impact archeologic resources or historic architectural resources.
I assume you have to do a lot of testing at the site?
Some testing is often performed at a site, but it can vary widely depending on the type of project and the specific resource being considered. There is a large body of scientific work on the environmental impacts of various development issues and widely available resource data sets that can provide the initial information needed for analysis. The amount of testing is determined after evaluating what is known versus the level of inquiry needed to adequately satisfy regulatory requirements.
So what distinguishes Haley & Aldrich in this area?
There are a couple of ways that clients find our work to provide real value. One is during that third phase – generating alternatives to eliminate impacts on the ecosystem. We can suggest paths for the project that they may have never considered, which can make a profound difference to project schedule, potential mitigation costs, or both. Even better is when we get involved at the earliest stages and can help shape the idea, thus avoiding the resource impacts altogether.
So you provide better advice on low-impact construction. What other benefits do you provide?
We have to work with regulators at the state and federal level all the time, and are very careful to cultivate a reputation for integrity and thoroughness. We want regulators to see Haley & Aldrich as people who they can trust to come to the table with solutions. By the same token, our clients look to us to advocate for sensible regulation of our clients' activities, and do so in a timely manner to meet project schedules.
So many times you hear of a project that’s mired in regulatory red tape, but those are situations we want to avoid. Haley & Aldrich is all about getting maximum value for the client.
For more information about Natural Resources Assessment & Impact Mitigation, contact Vince Dick.