Agricultural Resource Management Plan Programmatic Environmental Assessment, 2021
A sovereign tribal nation contracted Lark to develop a NEPA compliant Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) for their community-developed Agricultural Resource Management Plan (ARMP). Success of the project was predicated on Lark’s expertise and experience in understanding the requirements per the regional and local U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs’ offices and a comprehensive Proposed Action. Lark ensured that the essential Proposed Action had been reviewed and agreed upon by an interdisciplinary working group that consisted of community members, tribal council members, multiple tribal department heads, and federal agency contacts. In the end, the well thought out and coordinated project details facilitated the successful completion of a decision record so that the Tribe could move forward with implementing the ARMP, hence providing future funding opportunities for the Tribe as well.
Additional highlights: Lark personnel approached the project with a cost-saving approach for streamlining the PEA and associated Biological Assessment required under the Endangered Species Act. In the end, the project was completed under budget and ahead of schedule, providing the client with approximately $14,000 in project savings.
Programmatic Biological Assessment, 2017 and ongoing
Lark personnel, when previously employed by another company, worked with a collection of oil and gas companies to develop a Programmatic Biological Assessment Biological Evaluation (BABE) and an amendment to the BABE for oil and gas exploration and development across approximately 1 million acres. Following the completion of the Programmatic BABE and BABE Amendment in 2017, the oil and gas operators contracted Lark personnel, in coordination with a partnering Native American-owned business, to complete another amendment (currently in progress). These assessments required documentation and the review of findings for the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management regarding possible effects of the anticipated oil and gas development on species listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as threatened, endangered, proposed, or candidate species and assessed impacts to species protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940. Multiple spatial analyses of the existing species’ habitat (endangered, proposed, and candidate species) were conducted to provide support to potential impacts.
Additional highlights: The Programmatic BABE and BABE Amendments address the requirement for additional future concurrences and provide a streamlined approach for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for future oil and gas development in the area.
Agricultural Resources Management Plan and Programmatic Environmental Assessment, 2018
Lark personnel, when previously employed by another company, worked with a sovereign tribal nation to assist with updating the vision statement for the Tribe’s Integrated Resource Management Plan (IRMP) and with the development of an Agricultural Resource Management Plan (ARMP). Success of the project was predicated on a robust community involvement process. A comprehensive stakeholder-based participation process across multiple communities was executed under the guidance of an interdisciplinary working group that consisted of community members, multiple tribal department heads, federal agency contacts, and tribal council members. In addition, numerous community meetings were held around the reservation on multiple occasions; a community survey was developed and distributed across the reservation to solicit community input; a project booth at a local pow wow was arranged; and a local/on-site person was hired to assist with facilitating public involvement. In the end, the community involvement work resulted in a transparent public participatory process that served as the backbone of the work for the IRMP vision statement and ARMP.
Additional highlights: Additionally, Lark personnel led the creation of a comprehensive geodatabase containing all available tribal environmental data related to the reservation and community, which also included training videos to facilitate future use of the geodatabase by tribal agency staff. Lastly, Lark personnel identified the need for NEPA compliance and streamlined the process, saving the client additional money and time. In the end, the project was completed under budget and on-time, providing the client with approximately $20,000 in project savings.
Agricultural Leasing and Grazing PEAs
Lark personnel, in coordination with a partnering Native American-owned business, completed 23 Programmatic Environmental Assessments (PEAs) across the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains to facilitate ongoing and future agricultural leasing and permitting activities on American Indian reservations in Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, and Nebraska.
Additional highlights: This work required close coordination with the U.S. United States Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) on the associated Endangered Species Act (ESA) Section 7 Consultation documents required for the successful completion of those PEAs, or the completion of a Biological Assessment (BA). Lark also worked with the Tribal Historic Preservation Offices across Montana, Wyoming, and North and South Dakota to ensure the PEAs were in compliance with tribal rules and regulations and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
Tribal Housing Environmental Assessment
Lark personnel, in coordination with a partnering Native American-owned business, worked for a sovereign tribal nation to complete an Environmental Assessment (EA) required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) before releasing funding for the proposed project. This EA involved the review of the construction of 20 homes and a community building on the reservation. Success of the project was predicated on continued coordination with the Tribal Housing Authority and its contractors to acquire maps and data sets for the successful completion of the EA.
Additional highlights: The same tribe reached out to Lark personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic for help with completing the required HUD NEPA compliance documents needed for the Tribe to receive emergency funding assistance. Lark personnel led the Tribal Housing Authority through the development of the environmental documents needed per HUD’s emergency COVID-19 project guidance and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation’s (ACHP’s) emergency response provisions of Section 106