Long-standing relationships with public utilities have provided Applied EarthWorks with numerous opportunities to assist in cultural resource management for power generation and transmission facilities. The company has participated in numerous hydroelectric relicensing projects for hydroelectric systems and regularly assists utilities in recognizing and managing portions of those systems that have achieved historical significance as well as archaeological sites that could be affected by their use and maintenance. The development of renewable energy projects has afforded Applied EarthWorks the chance to be involved in the cultural resources management aspect of the rapidly developing fields of solar, wind, and geothermal energy generation throughout the western United States.


Representative Projects


Transmission line separation

Pacific Gas and Electric Company
Plumas, Tahoe, Eldorado, Stanislaus, Sierra, and Sequoia National Forests

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) maintains transmission line facilities on seven national forests in the Pacific Southwest Region. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission determined that these transmission facilities are no longer subject to its licensing authority and required PG&E to obtain separate land-use authorization from the USDA Forest Service for routine maintenance and vegetation management along the transmission facilities and access roads.

Following detailed records searches at multiple information centers and Forest Service facilities, Æ performed an archaeological survey of approximately 2,142 acres of previously unsurveyed portions of the transmission corridors and access roads. The project area included more than a dozen noncontiguous survey parcels spread across rugged terrain in a 400-mile section of the Sierra Nevada within six national forests— Plumas, Tahoe, Eldorado, Stanislaus, Sierra, and Sequoia. The survey results were documented in six separate Heritage Resources Inventory reports, one for each forest.

This project required intricate logistical planning to ensure that survey crews were deployed efficiently. Æ’s prior experience in the Sierra Nevada was a key factor in the successful and timely completion of the field effort.

Key Services

  • Environmental Impact Consultation (CEQA / NEPA)
  • Archaeological Field Surveys
  • Coordination with Federal Regulatory Agencies
  • Archival and Historical Research

Alta East Wind Energy Project

ch2m
Kern County, California

On behalf of Alta Windpower Development, LLC, and under subcontract to CH2M, Æ provided paleontological resource management services during the construction of the Alta East Wind Energy Project located approximately 3 miles west of the city of Mojave, Kern County, California on lands administered by the BLM. The area of potential effects for paleontological resources included wind turbine construction areas, electrical substation construction areas, meteorological tower construction areas, road construction, and associated facilities. The cost of paleontological services for the project totaled $815,003.

Throughout project construction, Æ provided qualified BLM-permitted paleontologists to monitor ground-disturbing activities in the sensitive Horned Toad Formation. Due to the large size of the project footprint and the sensitivity of the geologic units, as many as 11 paleontologists were onsite at any given time. In addition to monitoring, Æ’s paleontological team conducted extensive onsite matrix sampling for microvertebrates in accordance to the project’s approved Paleontological Resources Monitoring and Mitigation Plan. To facilitate the sampling program and meet project deadlines, an on-site field laboratory was utilized for microfossil picking. More than 100 fossil specimens were recovered from nearly 20 localities. Once construction monitoring was completed, Æ conducted the necessary laboratory work and all significant fossils were cataloged and curated permanently into the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology.  

KEY SERVICES

  • Paleontological Field Survey
  • Museum Locality Record Searches
  • Fossil Recovery and Recording
  • Bulk Matrix Sampling
  • On-Site Sediment Microfossil Screening
  • Agency Coordination
  • Paleontological Use Permit Acquisition
  • Laboratory Specimen Preparation for Curation

On-Call Cultural Resource Studies for California Energy Commission Solar Power Projects in Southern California

Aspen environmental
San bernardino and riverside COUNTies, CALIFORNIA

Æ worked under contract to Aspen Environmental Group on an as-needed basis to provide impact analyses for proposed solar energy projects under review by the California Energy Commission (CEC).

Æ conducted field assessments for the Ivanpah Solar Power Project, including evaluating the archaeological sensitivity and the potential for National Register eligible sites to occur in the proposed project.  Æ also analyzed the cultural resources impacts of alternatives considered in the Alternatives Assessment sections of the Staff Assessment/Draft Environmental Impact Statements for the following proposed solar power projects:

  • Blythe Solar Power Project, Riverside County (7,030-acre proposed project site study area and 6,207-acre alternative site study area).
  • Genesis Solar Energy Project, Riverside County (4,640-acre proposed project site study area and 2,137‑acre alternative site study area, and three reconfigurations of the proposed project site).
  • Palen Solar Power Project, Riverside County (3,871-acre proposed project site study area and 5,968-acre alternative site study area). 

Topaz Solar Farm PROJECT

First Solar
San Luis Obispo COUNTY, CALIFORNIA

Æ was contracted by First Solar, Inc. to perform paleontological monitoring during development of the Topaz Solar Farm, a 550-megawatt photovoltaic site occupying approximately 3,500 acres in the Carrizo Plains of San Luis Obispo County, California. In accordance with current Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) guidelines, and as determined by the Paleontological Monitoring and Treatment Plan prepared for this Project, the geologic deposits underlying the Project area were deemed to have a high potential to contain significant non-renewable paleontological resources. Æ completed construction monitoring, matrix sampling, and fossil and stratigraphic data collection during ground-disturbing activities within geologic deposits determined to be sensitive for paleontological resources. All paleontological tasks were performed in accordance with guidelines set forth by the SVP and satisfied the requirements of the Project Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program and Conditions of Approval. 

KEY SERVICES

  • Paleontological Construction Monitoring
  • Preparation of Paleontological Monitoring and Treatment Plan 
  • Fossil Recovery and Recording
  • Bulk Matrix Sampling
  • On-Site Sediment Microfossil Screening
  • Laboratory Specimen Preparation for Curation

Clients

pacific gas & Electric

southern california Edison

First Solar

POWER Engineers

Recurrent Energy