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R.A. Smith National, Inc. Knowledge Blog

Delavan Lake Sanitary District Sees Value in Mobile Apps to View GIS Data

by Kyle Belott 26. April 2013 06:28

The Delavan Lake Sanitary District is employing a mobile application configured by R.A. Smith National to view GIS datasets and access digital documents in the field. Whether it’s information on their sanitary sewer pipes, manholes, or laterals, the mobile application is helping this sanitary district do their work better and faster. The mobile GIS viewer (ArcGIS App for iOS) is easily accessed in the field using iPads. While Delavan Lake is one of the first sanitary districts in Wisconsin to jump into the world of mobile, it won’t be long before others see the value.


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Seasonal Wetlands Provide Critical Habitat for Wildlife

by Heather Patti 24. April 2013 07:25

Scattered across the Upper Midwest are thousands of small seasonally wet areas that may only be saturated or hold water from late fall to late spring or early summer. Seasonal wetlands (also known as “vernal ponds”) result from winter snowmelt and spring rains, and typically occur in depressional areas in woods and open fields. By mid-summer, most seasonal wetlands have dried out or are just barely moist. Some are almost indiscernible across the landscape.

Although many of these seasonal wetlands may be less than an acre or even a half-acre in size, they provide an important food source for migratory birds, waterfowl, breeding and feeding areas for amphibians and reptiles, and critical winter food supplies for turkey, deer and other birds and mammals.

There are many different types of seasonal wetlands including seasonally flooded basins, farmed depressions, hardwood swamps, springs and seeps, and lake plain prairies. If you are lucky enough to own any of these seasonal wetlands, you will notice they are used by a wide variety of wildlife.  Seasonal wetlands are gaining recognition as important habitats because of their unique role in the landscape, their valuable wetland function, and the critical habitat they provide for wildlife.

If you have any questions about seasonal wetlands, wetland delineation or the current wetland permitting process, the ecologists at R.A. Smith National can provide the assistance you need.  Please contact Heather Patti at (262) 317-3361 or Tina Myers at (262) 317-3389.

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Stay Connected on WDNR Wetland and Waterway Permitting Changes

by Tina Myers 25. February 2013 08:30

There have been many changes over the past year regarding the WDNR’s wetland and waterway permitting process.  For example, DNR launched an electronic online permitting system for Individual Permits (IP) about a year ago which helped streamline the permitting process.  While many activities have an online process currently available, there are still some activities that do not. If you have a project planned, it is important to check the website for updates. A link to the WDNR’s article regarding this new online system can be found here:

Here’s another brief update regarding General Permits (GPs) for wetland disturbance:  In addition to Individual Permits (IPs) for wetland disturbance, there are also currently two types of GP applications available that are specific to project type; one of them is for “Commercial, Residential, and Industrial” projects, while the other is for “Municipal Highways, Bridges, Arches, and Culverts.”  We can expect to see other GPs specific to “Recreational Use” and “Utilities” hopefully in the near future.  For those familiar with the Practicable Alternatives Analysis (PAA) process pertaining to wetland disturbance, there are also activity-based PAA Supplements currently being drafted by the WDNR that should also soon become available.  These supplements will help guide applicants through the wetland impact avoidance/minimize analysis which must be considered by each applicant.  For more information about wetland permits click on this link:

If you have any questions about the current permit process or need wetlands and waterways delineated for your project, the ecologists at R.A. Smith National can provide the assistance you need.  Please contact Tina Myers at (262) 317-3389 or Heather Patti at (262) 317-3361.

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Protecting Rare Bird Species

by Tina Myers 9. January 2013 11:10

There are many considerations when planning a project, but what happens when you find out that you may have a rare species of bird nesting within or near your work zone?  For most projects that require Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) permits (i.e. stormwater, wetland, waterway permits), a Natural Heritage Inventory  (NHI) request must be submitted to the WDNR’s Bureau of Endangered Resources (BER) to determine which rare species of animals and plants, if any, may be present and whether or not a permit will be necessary to conduct certain activities.  In the case of Endangered and Threatened bird species, there may be several ways of protecting them, their nests, and their habitat. Early coordination with the WDNR is essential. 

The WDNR's list of Endangered, Threatened, and Special Concern bird species provides an overview of habitat requirements and typical breeding/nesting periods (avoidance periods). This list is occasionally revised based on new information/research collected by the WDNR’s BER. For example, the barn owl, snowy egret, and Bewick’s wren have been proposed for de-listing, while other species such as black tern, Kirtland’s warbler, and the upland sandpiper have been proposed for listing.  For more information, please contact Tina Myers (262) 317-3389 or Heather Patti (262) 317-3361, R.A. Smith National ecologists.  Our ecological team is highly familiar with the NHI process and we have completed a number of rare species habitat assessments and surveys, including rare bird surveys.


I-94 & Drexel Avenue Interchange is Open!

by John Bruggeman 5. December 2012 09:31

R.A. Smith National’s engineering staff has been busy over the last several years on several projects that contributed to the recent opening of the new I-94 Interchange at Drexel Avenue and reconstructed Drexel Avenue in the City of Oak Creek.  Our transportation and municipal services divisions were pleased to be part of this major effort to spur new development in this area and along nearby arterials such as South 27th Street.  The new interchange is the first one added to the freeway system in Milwaukee County since it was originally built in the 1970s. 

Our traffic division assisted with traffic volume forecasting in the area of the interchange and played a key role in the design of both traffic signals at the I-94 ramps as part of our on-site contracts with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Our municipal services division provided design, ecological and environmental permitting services to the City of Oak Creek for the reconstruction of Drexel Avenue from S. 27th Street to S. 13th Street. That project involved the innovative design of a rammed aggregate pier system to serve as a road base reinforcement for a shallow embankment over a wetland.


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