Uncategorized

Wooping Cranes make their way to Texas Coast – October 29, 2018

Iconic Whooping Cranes Making Way to Texas Coast

First Sightings Reported Near Rockport

With the first sightings last week of iconic, endangered whooping cranes along the Texas coast, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is reminding Texans to be on the lookout for these impressive birds as they move through the state.

Whooping cranes face a harrowing, 2,500 mile journey from the breeding grounds in the marshy taiga of northern Alberta’s Wood Buffalo National Park to the coastal marshes of Texas each year. The migration south to Texas can take up to 50 days with the population typically traveling in small groups. Man made structures like power lines, communication towers, and wind turbines pose significant threats, as do more natural perils like predators and harsh weather.

Along the way, whooping cranes seek out wetlands and agricultural fields to roost and feed in, and they often pass large urban centers like Dallas/Fort Worth, Waco, and Austin. Though they rarely stay in one place for more than a day during migration, it is important that they not be disturbed or harassed at these stopovers; in fact, as a federally protected species, it is illegal to do so.

The first whooper pair of the season was just spotted at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on October 22. Recent heavy rains brought much needed freshwater to the area and should result in improved numbers of blue crabs and Carolina wolfberries, preferred whooper foods in coastal marshes.

The tallest bird in North America, the whooping crane, is also one of the rarest. With a current population of around 505 individuals, whooping cranes are slowly returning from the brink of extinction thanks to coordinated conservation efforts. Out of 87 nests this summer only about 24 chicks fledged, a low number compared to recent years, likely due to the unseasonably cold, wet weather.

The Aransas-Wood Buffalo population, the only “natural” flock of whooping cranes in the world, spends each winter in and around the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge near Rockport. However, with population expansion in recent years they have begun spending time in more nontraditional areas, venturing some distance from the refuge to find food and other resources.

“These iconic, endangered species deserve our respect as they migrate through the central flyway, and we ask the public to avoid disturbing them if spotted,” states Wade Harrell, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Whooping Crane Recovery Coordinator. “Along with whooping cranes migrating from Canada, Texas has had a few visiting whooping cranes from a reintroduced population in southwest Louisiana. These cranes are all marked with leg bands and have been most commonly spotted in southeastern Texas, near Beaumont.”

With sandhill crane and waterfowl hunting seasons opening and whooper migration in full swing, TPWD urges hunters to be extra vigilant. Whooping cranes are sometimes found in mixed flocks with sandhill cranes, which are gray and slightly smaller. With their all-white body plumage and black wingtips, whooping cranes may also resemble snow geese, which are much smaller and have faster wing beats. Here’s a video detailing the differences between snow geese and whooping cranes.

There are several other non-game species that are similar in appearance such as wood storks, American white pelicans, great egrets and others, but a close look will reveal fairly obvious differences. More information on look-alike species is available online.

The public can help track whooping cranes by reporting sightings to TPWD’s Whooper Watch, a citizen-science based reporting system to track whooping crane migration and wintering locations throughout Texas.  More information about Whooper Watch, including instructions for reporting sightings, can be found online and by downloading the iNaturalist mobile app. These observations help biologists identify new migration and wintering locations and their associated habitats.

Creepy Crawlers – Armand Bayou Nature Center – Halloween 2018

Creepy Crawlers

Saturday October 27, 2018 at 6:30

 

Join Armand Bayou Nature Center this Saturday October 27, 2018 for a fun night of Halloween-themed games and activities for the entire family! Activities include a night hike in the woods, games, face painting, a barn show, a hay stack dive, and live animals to experience.

Reservations are required and will be available on September 4th. The reservation is $10 per person, kids 3 and under are free. Please bring a flashlight- it gets dark out here!

Book your reservations now!

Texas Association of Environmental Professionals – Aerial Services

On August 23, 2018, SSCI attended the Texas Association of Environmental Professionals (TAEP) Luncheon entitled “Drones – A New Tool for the Environmental Professional”. Mr. Mike Allison, president of Raptor Aerial Services, showed off his assortment of drones and explained their applications in the environmental field. Of particular interest to SSCI is the use of drones for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs). Drones can be a useful tool for identifying site conditions such as buildings, aboveground storage tanks, water bodies, and other features. Drones can also be used to analyze overland flow, an important part of any Phase I! The TAEP hosts monthly luncheons where presenters come to discuss important environmental issues and the ways they can be solved.

SSCI has performed thousands of Phase I ESAs and would be glad to help you with your next environmental project!

More info about Raptor Aerial Services and the TAEP can be found at www.raptoraerialservices.com and https://www.taep.org/

Three questions for . . . Dr. William Hodges, TAMU ’14

Three Questions for . . . Dr. William Hodges, TAMU ’14
Dr. William Hodges, (Texas A&M, 2014; VMBA roles: president of TAMU’s VBMA chapter for 2012 and 2013. National Marketing Chair for 2013). He currently resides in Raleigh, N.C.

How did your participation in the VBMA at the leadership level change your perspectives while you were a veterinary student?

Cognizance of need. Prior to veterinary school, I had limited experience in the veterinary business environment. I am fortunate to have two entrepreneurs as parents, so I understood the value of business, but never connected business and veterinary medicine. VBMA was unique among the organizations in its union of the two. Joining the leadership team gave me perspective of scale and just how much need there is at and beyond the student level. VBMA was created by students who recognized a gap and put forth incredible effort to fill it at both the business education and the interpersonal skills levels —  key components of business management. I wanted in on that!

This profession and a DVM degree changed drastically for me because I started to see the limitless opportunities I would have. It was like growing up on an island then discovering the airport.

In retrospect, what was the highlight of your VBMA experience?

The networking opportunities. While this is not an experience, in and of itself, this network has allowed for countless growth experiences. VBMA will provide a variety of opportunities to people, but the uniform value is the network you will build. I will admit that networking should be the goal of any organization, but VBMA does it better.

What are you doing now, and how do you think that relates to your VBMA experience?

I currently work full-time as a relief vet, specializing in Emergency and Critical Care (ECC) relief work. Positioning, marketing and selling to my client clinics is challenging. Success requires confidence in myself and skills to be effective in a wide variety of businesses with staff that doesn’t know me and resources that change frequently. My time with VBMA has a lot to do with why I am effective.

Most importantly for me, though, is that I am a better teacher. Every day I work is an opportunity to teach. Ultimately it was VBMA that gave me the experience to round out my knowledge and interpersonal skills.

 

Baytown Wetland Delineation

As an Environmental Scientist at Separation Systems Consultants, Inc. (SSCI), Allyson Graziano performed a wetland delineation.  For two weeks, Allyson walked approximately 400 acres of land in Baytown, Texas near Cedar Bayou to locate and map out the wetlands in the area.  She saw many snakes, spiders, skinks, deer, frogs, cattle, horses and a large variety of plant species during their field work.  Together, they located eight wetlands, five tributary streams, two gullies and one bayou.  This was a large wetland delineation and one of the toughest Sites performed by SSCI.  The vegetation was thick, the streams were wide and deep, and the wildlife was abundant.
Allyson graduated from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with a concentration in Resource Biology and Biodiversity.  She is in training to become a Wetland Project Manager at SSCI.  While performing the field work, she learned more about what a complex wetland delineation entailed and broadened her knowledge of options a Client has if a wetland is found in terms of permitting and mitigation.  SSCI regularly works with Clients to help with their natural resource needs and to resolve complex environmental, remediation and engineering issues.

 

 

 

 

 

New Emergency Preparedness Training Requirements for Hospitals

The implementation date for the new training requirements is November 15, 2017.  The new rule establishes national emergency preparedness requirements that include adequately planning for disasters that fall on a continuum between disruptive to disastrous.  The new regulations apply to healthcare providers, including hospitals, critical access hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, and long-term care facilities.  To find out more, please follow this link to Occupational Health and Safety magazine.  https://ohsonline.com/articles/2017/11/01/cms-emergency-preparedness-training.aspx

If you need assistance with assessing your training needs or if you are looking for a training provider, please contact SSCI at 800-324-7724 or visit our website at www.sscienvironmental.com or SSCI-HEALTH-SAFETY & TECHNICAL TRAINING_201509.

TIPS Consulting and Other Related Services Award

SSCI has been awarded a contract with The Interlocal Purchasing System (TIPS) care of Region 8 Educational Service Center.  SSCI’s contract extends through 2020!.  SSCI’s TIPS profile provides contract information and a listing of our services.  Our services include, but are not limited to, environmental site assessments; soil and groundwater investigations; asbestos/mold/lead surveys and abatement and management services; soil and groundwater remediation, risk-based assessment modeling and evaluation; engineering assistance and oversight; construction services; environmental compliance audits; hazardous and non-hazardous waste disposal; and natural resource assessments and investigations.

The Interlocal Purchasing System, better known as TIPS Purchasing Cooperative, began in 2002 as a small regional cooperative of the Region 8 Education Service Center (ESC).   Region 8 ESC is one of twenty Education Service Centers located strategically across the state of Texas.  The ESC’s serve primarily as intermediate education agencies bridging the gap between the Texas Education Agency and the more than 1,000 public school districts and charter schools located in the state.  TIPS is now a national operation. The Interlocal Purchasing System currently serves entities such as state and local governments and non-profit organizations, including but not limited to:

  •         K-12 school districts
  •         Charter Schools
  •         Private Schools/Daycare Centers
  •         Colleges and Universities (State and Private)
  •         Cities/Municipalities
  •         Counties/Parishes
  •         Churches
  •         Charitable Organizations
  •         State Agencies
  •         Emergency Services Districts
  •         Other entities with legislated purchasing/bidding requirements