Electronic Field Guide » Pre-Development Issues » Controlling Site Activity
Prepared by Patrick Drohan (Ecosystem Science and Management)
If incorrectly executed, construction activities can increase erosion and runoff, disturb off-site habitat, degrade streams, and limit the effectiveness of reclamation following development. One way to ensure that long-term land management goals are met is to develop a list of on-site and off-site factors that development may affect or influence and develop contingency plans to deal with various potential scenarios before they occur. For example, off-site factors, such as seasonal rainfall, may result in differing amounts of surface runoff, which, in conjunction with a site’s steep topography (an on-site factor), may cause erosion.
When generating a list of such factors, use a map of the proposed pad and infrastructure development in association with maps of topography, surface hydrology (streams, ponds, wetlands, etc.), vegetation cover, historic features, and existing infrastructure (roads, outbuildings, above- and belowground utilities). For example, is there a unique forest habitat—perhaps an interior core area of forest that supports a specific population of birds, or an ephemeral wet area that is a habitat for migrating amphibians? Following identification of such sensitive areas, planners can examine ways to adjust site layout as requested by a company, lease negotiation, landowner, or manager. Ideally, activities should be clustered to minimize surface disturbance, and activities should be timed to try to avoid conditions that could exacerbate site risks.
Example on-site factors
- Topography (slope, aspect, elevation, slope shape [convex, concave, linear])
- Vegetation cover and type
- Type of soil (USDA soil series) and underlying bedrock (strike and dip)
- Surface hydrology (streams, ponds, wetlands)
- Subsurface hydrology (depth to the water table)
- Seasonal air temperature and precipitation patterns
- Surrounding land use
- Distance to sensitive habitats
- Direction and steepness of slopes, and their length to surrounding properties
- Traffic patterns
- Adjacent cultural and social features (e.g., schools, churches, medical facilities, parks)