Air Quality

 Track Chair: Lynn McLeod, Battelle

A lot is heard in the media regarding air quality these days. Whether the discussion is around ozone, NOx, carbon dioxide, or something else, to the lay person it can be quite confusing. This session will attempt to shine light on this subject and how it interplays with society in North Carolina and elsewhere. We will discuss how trends in ozone can be correlated with socio-economic variables, and look at the impacts of exempting small businesses.

Brownfields and Remediation

Track Chair: Christopher Burkhardt, Falcon Engineering

The EPA defines Brownfields as properties with hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants present. These properties can sometimes be large scale former industrial or commercial sites that are no longer in operation and are considered unsafe and unsightly. Through the Brownfields program these once dangerous and blighted areas can be cleaned and otherwise made safe prior to redeveloping them into something that can provide jobs, housing, or green space while providing economic growth to their surrounding area. This Session will highlight three successful projects that turned lemons into lemonade.

Climate Change

Track Chair: Jonathan Welker, Breakpoint Surveying & Underground

Climate Change is on the world’s radar as a result of the recent changes throughout the world, and it continues to be one of the most important issues faced by environmental professionals today. This year’s NAEP annual conference devotes two sessions to this vital topic. First, we will focus on how to include climate change in environmental assessments. In a second session, we will highlight education and communication techniques for explaining climate change, particularly in the media.

Cultural Resources

Track Chair: Heather Miller, Historical Research Associates

Cultural Resources are often an afterthought in the world of environmental compliance and yet by law they are equally important as bugs and bunnies and air and water quality. Indeed, neglecting to address cultural resources (whether archaeological or historic) adequately can lead to anything from project delays and added costs, at best, to political black eyes, at worst—and everything in between. The sessions in the Cultural Resources track are designed to assist environmental professionals to understand and navigate some potential pitfalls of cultural resources compliance.

This year, we have three unique sessions in the Cultural Resources track. The first addresses three noninvasive or remote technologies that can be applied during various Section 106 processes: noninvasive geophysical testing, the use of drones and photogrammetry, and unmanned aerial systems (UAS). Using case studies, this session explores advancements in how LiDAR imaging, remote sensing, and digital data acquisition/transfer are being applied in cultural resource management settings to facilitate better site detection, evaluation, and preservation.

The second session revolves around a case study of a recent inventory and evaluation of structures and buildings in the City of Los Angeles, which possesses one of the nation’s largest municipal park systems. The project assessed resources’ eligibility for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, California Register of Historical Resources, and/or the County of Los Angeles Register of Historic Districts and Landmarks. The inventory identified resources that are eligible individually or within a historic district and provided management guidelines consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and the National Park Service’s Preservation Briefs. Additionally, the project led to development of a Worker, Education, and Awareness Program and a Cultural Resource Management Plan.

Last, but certainly not least, is a roundtable that seeks to provide answers to your most pressing cultural resources questions, from “What are cultural resources?” to “What is the difference between the cultural resources sections of NEPA and Section 106 of the NHPA?” to “What is a traditional cultural property?” to “What does it mean to avoid, minimize, or mitigate for an adverse effect?” and everything in between. Ask questions of our panel of experts in archaeology, history and historic preservation, NEPA, and cultural resources policy or just come to listen. Note, too, that additional presentations are cross-listed with the cultural track, including a paper on a comparative analysis of identified best practices regarding historic bridges.

Ecological Restoration

Track Chair: Ward Marotti, WK Dickson

Ecological Restoration Projects are evolving with practitioners making creative and interesting new advances. As more and more ecological restoration projects occur, our knowledge of how restoration of natural systems are accomplished has grown and the tools available for use in a variety of situations has increased. This track focuses on showcasing various approaches that agencies and practitioners can use to implement ecological restoration in their projects. From creative and innovative methods of stream restoration, to evaluating wetlands at different levels, to projects that are actively implemented to help the environment, and even projects that bank mitigation credits for future project impacts. Come see what exciting things are happening in the world of ecological restoration.

Endangered Species

Track Chair: Misty Buchanan, North Carolina Natural Heritage Program

The Endangered Species track features one panel and two single presentations that demonstrate how multiple state and federal agencies work together to assess the status and trends of endangered species, and how these collaborations benefit the rare species, as well as the multiple agencies, including the Department of Defense, NC Department of Transportation, and US Fish and Wildlife Service. The Sentinel Landscapes Panel (Session 27) features a group of speakers who helped develop a program in North Carolina that provides incentives to landowners in the vicinity of military installations to maintain their land in use that is compatible with existing military training programs conducted on the installations. The second Endangered Species panel (Session 32) features a collaboration between the NC Botanical Garden and the US Department of Defense to restore a rare plant on the military installation (Sandhills Lily), and a collaboration between the NC Department of Transportation, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and NC Natural Heritage Program to assess the status of a federally protected plant (Dwarf-Flowered Heartleaf), to determine if it continues to merit federal listing.


Track Chair: Ann Miracle, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

As populations grow and concerns about meeting future energy needs and climate change increase, more research is being conducted on new locations for various forms of energy (oil/gas and renewable) and alternative sources of energy. This session will look at some of the activities being conducted in this area as they relate to the east coast of the U.S., nationwide, and portions of the world. Whether it is determining where we are willing to allow potential new energy sources to be accessed, where renewable sources of energy are viable enough to be developed, or looking at new ways of harnessing energy from the environment, this session will have something interesting for you.

Environmental Technology

Track Chair: Misty Buchanan, North Carolina Natural Heritage Program

As computers become smaller and faster, and program development becomes easier, the use of technology in direct data collection becomes more common. This session focuses on some of the new tools available in the environmental arena as well as some old tools that have become more helpful in their capabilities. Whether it is an iPad or other hand held device to directly enter field data, the use of satellite imagery to conduct field surveys, or employing drones in the conduct of field data collection, the use of technology to conduct environmental assessment or to directly collect and make field data more accessible is clearly a path down which we all find ourselves following.

Mountains to Sea

Track Chair: Jonathan Welker, Breakpoint Surveying & Underground

This track focuses on several environmental issues impacting North Carolina and other states where you find a variety of habitats, everything from mountains to the sea. The first of three sessions under this track looks at strategic planning throughout North Carolina. Items such as state-wide fish and wildlife habitat conservation plans, the need for wider riparian buffers, and applying rapid wetland and stream assessment methods will be discussed. In the second session folks from the North Carolina Heritage Program will discuss a new model – NatureServe – to collect and analyze species distribution data across the state. Lastly, the third session will look at protecting coastal flora and fauna communities.


Track Chair: Michael Smith, ENERCON

The purpose of the NEPA Track is to provide practitioners with a comprehensive overview of the most important recent NEPA policy and legal updates, as well as tips and techniques for improving NEPA practice and analyses in a number of critical areas. Federal, state and private-sector practitioners and legal experts will showcase real-world examples from project case studies for a wide range of project types and agency actions. This year’s track will feature progress made over the past year on issues discussed during the 2016 session regarding the Cohen NEPA Summit. In addition to this special session, this year’s panel and individual paper sessions will address a wide array of NEPA topics including: Annual NEPA Case Law and Policy Update; Incorporating Ecosystem Services into NEPA; Tips and Tricks for Third Party EISs; NEPA Best Practices; Environmental Language Barriers; Beans, Bullets, and Bunnies: Navigating the Complex World of DoD NEPA; NEPA Case Studies; Adaptive Management Under NEPA; and NEPA Compliance at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Public Involvement

Track Chair: Lynn McLeod, Battelle

Public Involvement is an ever changing landscape with its share of pitfalls and land mines. Sessions throughout this track focus on informing ways of traversing this road with the goal of getting to the end of the line in one piece. Whether you are developing or updating your policies/guidance, managing public involvement for large-scale remedial projects or complex NEPA projects, or just need to learn how to include the next generations, these sessions are for you. This track also includes a rather unique Hot Topic Lunch as we delve into considerations of the environment from a Faith-Based Perspective. We encourage people to join into the conversation in all of these sessions.

Remediation Techniques

Track Chair: Christopher Burkhardt, Falcon Engineering

Have you found a client with unlimited time and money? No? Well, we haven’t either. Remediation is no different than other business ventures when time is of the essence and budgets are limited. Come listen to these four knowledgeable professionals explain how they used technology to meet and exceed these two criteria. Presentations include topics such as precipitating arsenic out of ground water as arseno-oxyhydroxides and the stable mineral arsenopyrite; fixating chemicals using a new approach insensitive to toxicity and well performing in environments with high concentrations of metals, organic contaminants, salt, and pH levels (high and low); developing more accurate groundwater flow models including suitable well screening intervals and groundwater remediation programs using geophysical logging instruments; and mitigating Vapor Intrusion on large scale projects and the importance of choosing the right contractor.


Track Chair: Kristen Maines, Infrastructure Consulting & Engineering

2016 was a strong year for federal transportation funding under President Obama. However, states still face a shortfall between existing transportation revenues and projected needs. Funding and finance options for transportation projects include traditional revenues such as gas taxes and other taxes on motor fuels, motor vehicle fees and tolls, and less traditional approaches like permile charges and taxes on alternative fuels. States also are considering finance solutions that borrow against or otherwise leverage revenues, such as bonds, federal credit assistance, state infrastructure banks and public-private partnerships (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2017).

This year, we have four unique sessions in the Transportation Track covering a variety of transportation-related topics. Roadway

Projects and NEPA: Navigating the Process will present case studies of three roadway projects—each dealing with issues and challenges that many planners face. Emerging Issues in Transportation Projects will focus on trends in transportation planning including alternatives to Level of Service as the primary metric for assessing transportation facilities, and the findings of a recent survey of 46 committees of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies regarding environmental “performance”.

The third session, Case Studies in Transportation Projects, will have two presentations dealing with historic bridges. We will hear an evaluation of states’ approaches to navigating historic bridge projects with some guidance for professionals to improve project outcomes and a discussion of the challenges of replacing a historic bridge in an environmentally-sensitive and dynamic coastal environment. The track will wrap up with Evaluating Impacts of Transportation Projects which will explore issues in the world of air transportation and differences between handling transportation projects under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and NEPA.

Water Resources

Track Chair: Jonathan Welker, Breakpoint Surveying & Underground

Innovation and technology are aiding the water resource community by adding new procedures and tools to their repertoire. In efforts to reduce flooding and reduce potential health hazards, engineers use these tools to build more efficient infrastructure. This session will highlight projects throughout the country that have been effective in incorporating blue and green drainage structures, technology into storm water Best Management Practices, and incorporation of updated regulation in storm water permitting.