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Bear necessities

Close cooperation made it possible to route a 52-mile pipeline through Louisiana wetland while minimizing distubance to black bears and other wildlife.

Develop elegant and innovative solutions that enhance quality

Opportunity

When the natural gas company American Midstream (Midla) set out to construct a 52-mile (84-kilometer) natural gas pipeline, it found 34 miles (55 kilometers) of mature hardwood-forested wetlands, cypress swamps, and bayous in its path.

Significant portions of the right of way were federally protected habitat for the threatened Louisiana black bear. Traditional construction techniques would have been difficult to permit. Compensatory mitigation would have been prohibitively expensive or even impossible to obtain on the scale needed.

Solution

We worked with our client, landowners, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, US Fish & Wildlife Service, US Army Corps of Engineers, and several state agencies to look afresh at construction methods, sensitive resource impacts, compensatory mitigation, and costs.

This delivered a cost-effective solution that could be permitted by the regulatory agencies: the route underwent minor realignments, with additional horizontal directional drilling to avoid impacts to protected species habitat, wetlands, and water bodies.

Outcome

The pipeline was successfully permitted and constructed. We worked with Midla and its contractor during construction to avoid impacts to sensitive species during denning season when young were being reared.

Our environmental monitoring and reporting enabled Midla
to build through seasonal wetlands during dry periods, avoiding the cost and impacts of using load-bearing construction mats for heavy equipment.

Where use of construction mats was unavoidable, close coordination with regulatory agencies allowed for more-efficient construction methods. This provided substantial savings. Midla also realized compensatory mitigation savings, as impacts to 74 acres (30 hectares) of protected habitat were avoided.

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