Conducting Ecological Studies all Year Round


As we have experienced frequently in the last few years, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has developed policies and guidelines not only to implement the regulations and protect the environment, but to guide or direct those within the environmental consulting community in assisting clients with complying with those regulations.  One prime example of this is in NJDEP’s Ecological Evaluation Guidance Manual, which states that certain studies, such as those concerning wetlands, should be conducted during certain times of the year (particularly May through September).


Working with all elements of the ecological environment, Professional Environmental Associates has conducted a multitude of natural resource inventories and obtained a multitude of approvals from the Land Use Program of NJDEP for almost thirty years.  Even prior to creation of Professional Environmental Associates, I have been working as an ecological consultant, in fact since 1970.   However, we have conducted wetlands studies year-round since our establishment in 1983.  That is why we feel confident in saying that these studies can, in fact, can be conducted year- round.   It all comes down to finding a firm that has the knowledge and experience to do so.  As we all have experienced, many projects just can’t wait until the warmer months to proceed and for completion of certain tasks.  There’s no reason for you to have to wait.


We agree that studies concerning Endangered and Threatened Species, aquatic organisms and other wildlife, must be seasonal to be valid and complete, i.e. for species that migrate or hibernate.  However, in New Jersey some bird species are not normally present except in the colder months such as Tufted Titmouse and Slate-colored Juncos.


Vegetation inventories and wetlands delineations can be conducted year-long, as long as your consultant has the ability to identify species by bark, buds, leaf scars, form and/or other physical characteristics.  In some cases, winter identification is actually easier such as with willow-herb.  Yes, herbaceous species are dead but some still leave remnant signs for identification.  Wetlands are often the wettest in April and driest during the summer months so the reading of the signs of hydrology is sometimes more important in order to define their character and can be determined all year-long.


There’s no reason to put a hold on your project simply because you believe there is a designated time frame for when the work can occur.  At the very least, some of the preliminary assays can be performed, even during the winter season when environment conditions are extreme.   Forgive me for the cliché but “time is money”.  With the right team behind you, your project can be up and running or proceed at any given time of the year.


(Posted by: David Poling of Professional Environmental Associates)