Natural Resource Planning Services

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In urbanizing areas as well as in wilderness tracts, planning for healthy natural resources is essential – if you wish to have healthy natural resources. If you don’t plan for them, you simply won’t have them, for long. AES regularly conducts studies and ecological assessments in both urbanizing areas and wilderness tracts, and in areas between, to determine existing conditions and “health trajectories” of natural areas. An in-depth, scientific understanding of ecosystems ranging from prairie and wetlands to savanna and forest systems is necessary to lay the foundation for quality land use and land management plans. AES ecologists are specialists in understanding the interactions of plant and animal species and communities, and in recognizing the effects of human impacts on the land.

Having studied literally thousands of natural areas over 20+ years, AES staff have developed cost-effective methods for assessing large, watershed-size areas of land. Using aerial photo interpretation and GIS technologies in combination with field studies, AES has provided ecological leadership on community planning projects ranging up to 50 square miles (Lino Lakes, MN, Liberty, MO, Woodstock, IL, Muskego, WI). And we have conducted natural resource assessments on small acreage sites for park planning, wildlife habitat restoration, potential conservation development, wetland mitigation and for other planning objectives.

Additionally, AES has conducted large-scale ecological research over thousands of acres of wilderness. Project objectives range from determining short- and long-term avian responses to wildfire (Boundary Waters Canoe Area, MN) to quantifying waterfowl use of emergent wetlands in large wetland complexes (Union County Conservation Area, IL). AES has studied the ecotoxicological impacts on colonial waterbird communities in the north Pacific Ocean, and has contributed to ecological planning at Glen Canyon, at several hydroelectric power dam sites, and many others.

On disturbed or contaminated sites, in degraded stream corridors, and in wetlands, uplands and woodlands that are deteriorating, AES provides vision in the process of planning for reclaimed and restored natural resources. On the basis of good ecological science, AES assists teams of land planners, landscape architects, engineers and others in greenway planning, watershed management and natural area conservation and restoration.

Because land management and planning issues are often a source of conflicting opinions and priorities, AES routinely conducts educational sessions to shed light on the historic (natural) conditions and functions of landscapes and the impacts of human development. In public presentations, committee meetings and at formal conference events, these educational experiences help communities and planners reach consensus on the sometimes thorny issues inherent in land planning.

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