AllStar Ecology had a very busy and successful 2017 as it was one of our company’s best years on record. This success was also demonstrated in our Employer Sponsored Volunteer Program. This program encourages our employees to serve and support our local and regional communities through AllStar Ecology sponsored volunteerism efforts. In 2017, twenty-three of our employees (over half of our staff) utilized the program, represented AllStar Ecology, and provided more than 250 hours of community service. We provided educational outreach to local schools, environmental surveys and reporting, litter cleanups, food bank assistance, and volunteerism on local boards.
In 2017, six AllStar Ecology employees volunteered their time at local schools and organizations to teach youth and young adults about environmental science. Hundreds of participants learned about topics including streams and wetlands, mitigation, bat biology, freshwater mussels, and other endangered species. AllStar Ecology staff also volunteered to judge merit awards for the WVU student chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architecture and Ridgedale Elementary School’s Science Fair.
Our staff’s education and experience in numerous environmental fields allows us to use our expertise to support and assist community groups and agencies with things such as environmental surveys, report writing, habitat analysis, etc. For example, our Bat Biologists and Environmental Scientists volunteered their time in 2017 to complete a bat inspection and report for the First Presbyterian Church of Fairmont, WV. Our biologists also participated in the Lake Barkley Kentucky Bat Blitz, to assist fellow scientists and to help non-profits with permitting and field work. Further, three AllStar Ecology Environmental Scientists assisted the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection with rattlesnake surveys. The surveys were completed at Coopers Rock State Forest where they encountered copperheads, black rat snakes, ring-neck snakes and timber rattlesnakes. Lastly, one of AllStar Ecology’s Stream Assessment Specialists volunteered to assist Friends of Deckers Creek, a local non-profit watershed group, throughout 2017 with fish community sampling using backpack electrofishers.
Community Boards and Other Groups Served
In 2017, numerous AllStar employees volunteered on a wide range of boards and provide assistance to a variety of community groups, boards, and associations. These included the Association of Mid-Atlantic Aquatic Biologists, church groups, the Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society, Cub Scouts, Friends of Deckers Creek, fire halls, Daughters of the American Revolution, and West Virginia University School of Business, Wildlife and Fisheries Resources, and Landscape Architecture programs. Projects supported in 2017 ranged from fundraising events to support children in need, litter clean ups, and food bank maintenance.
To read more about AllStar Ecology, visit our About Us page.
Eric Schroder, AllStar Ecology Bat Biologist, was recently the lead author on a journal article titled “Indiana bat maternity roost habitat preference within Midwestern United States upland Oak-Hickory (Quercus-Carya) forest”. The article focuses on the Indiana bat, a federally listed endangered species, and the complex combination of tree and landscape characteristics in influencing habitat preferences. The article is featured in the November 2017 version of Forest Ecology and Management.
AllStar Ecology is excited to welcome our newest staff members Derek Springston, Taryn Moser, Kayt Collins, and Mark Hepner. Mr. Springston and Mrs. Moser will be focusing on environmental permitting for a wide variety of clients while Ms. Collins and Mr. Hepner bring a lot of field experience including bats, delineations, restoration, environmental inspections, and plants to the team. Welcome aboard!
To read more about AllStar Ecology, visit our About Us page.
Three low-head dams (West Milford, Highland and Two Lick Dams) on the West Fork River in Harrison County, West Virginia, were planned for removal by the Clarksburg Water Board with assistance from the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). These dams were constructed in the early 1900’s for flood control and drinking water supply but no longer served their purpose and were a hazard to recreation along the river.
In September 2015, AllStar Ecology staff led efforts to relocate all live freshwater mussels from the work areas downstream of each dam. In West Virginia, all freshwater mussel species are now of conservation concern due to severe declines in their populations. In fact, freshwater mussels are the most imperiled species across the United States. With assistance from the USFWS and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR), a total of 116 freshwater mussels of eight species were collected and relocated outside of the dam work areas.
Dam Removal & Mussel Salvage
The demolition of the three dams occurred in the spring and summer of 2016. Each dam was demolished in increments so that water levels upstream receded gradually over time. This exposed 12.5 miles of river bank on the West Fork River home to freshwater mussels that were now stranded without water. AllStar Ecology, USFWS, WVDNR, and numerous other partners and volunteers used canoes with apple pickers and litter grabbers to collect stranded mussels. In total, 1,476 live freshwater mussels of eight species were relocated to newly exposed riffles within the West Fork River with help from 34 volunteers searching for a total of 646 hours.
Restoration & Future Goals
Removing the three dams opened a continuous 35 miles of river on the West Fork and returned 13.5 miles of lake type habitat to river type habitat. This will improve fish movement, sediment transport, and freshwater mussel populations and increase recreation opportunities. The project has also spurred the removal of tons of trash and litter from the areas and has lowered the cost of drinking water treatment for the City of Clarksburg.
The USFWS and its partners hope to continue river restoration on the West Fork River through additional dam removal and modifications. AllStar Ecology will continue to lead efforts to relocate freshwater mussels from work areas and along exposed banks.
The AllStar Difference
We develop mussel survey plans and conduct the necessary surveys to fulfill the needs of various industries, land managers and the scientific community. AllStar has performed hundreds of mussel surveys throughout West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania for industries including oil and gas, utilities, loading and dredging facilities, municipalities, non-profits, and government agencies, etc. to meet the needs of our clients. Learn more about our mussel services by clicking here or contact us for more information.
Found throughout the eastern United States and Canada, spring ephemerals thrive on the floor of rich, undisturbed woodlands and can be quite beautiful. This verdant, moist environment is the ideal site for myrmecochory, seed dispersal by ants. The seeds of spring ephemerals bear fatty external appendages called eliaosomes. The insects, attracted to the elaiosomes, carry the booty back to their nests, where the lipid-rich food source is consumed by their young. The unharmed seeds are thrown into a midden, a rich, composting stew that stimulates germination. A single ant colony may collect as many as a thousand seeds over a season. While the volume is great, the distance is not; on average, a seed is carried just two meters from the parent plant. Because offspring remain so local (unlike plants dispersed by birds or wind), habitat fragmentation is a major threat to the survival of spring ephemerals. Once these plants are gone from the forest, it is rare that they return. To help you identify these plants and their characteristics, view AllStar’s primer below.
Importance of Bat Habitat Assessment and Conservation
As industry development continues across the country, Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) and northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) habitat conservation is important to maintain their populations. Indiana bats and northern long-eared bats are listed as federally endangered and threatened species, respectively. During the summer, they are both forest dwelling bats that will roost underneath the peeling bark or within cracks, crevices, or cavities of trees. During the winter, both species hibernate in abandoned mines and caves. As a response to increasing Indiana bat and northern long-eared bat conservation measures and bat habitat assessment required by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), AllStar Ecology has designed and manufactured artificial bat roosting structures in the form of two-chambered Rocket Boxes.
AllStar Ecology was formed in 2007 to provide sound environmental consulting on natural resource issues for industry, engineering firms, government agencies, non-profits, developers and other businesses.