Gulfstream Natural Gas System Pipeline Project

KECE has worked on the Gulfstream Natural Gas System pipeline project from the preliminary planning stage, through project permitting, and habitat restoration and monitoring, to comply with permit requirements regarding wetlands and listed wildlife species.

In 1997 KECE was responsible for choosing and evaluating multiple preliminary corridor alignments required for the transport of natural gas from Louisiana and Mississippi to final users throughout Florida. We contributed to the methods used by the team to map the sea bottoms, ensuring that the offshore corridor impacted the least amount of live bottom and pinpointing the optimal alignment for the pipeline. Corridor alignments were also assessed to meet project transport need and to result in the most practical alignment when considering constraints such as location of major urban areas, significant water bodies, and existing linear projects as well as the need to avoid to the greatest extent possible impacts to wetland and wildlife resources. The final alignment crosses the Gulf of Mexico, coming to shore in southern Tampa Bay, and extends north to Orlando and east to Palm Beach and Martin Counties.

From 1999 to 2001, KECE worked as a consultant to ENSR, providing technical support on habitat assessments and wetland and wildlife permitting associated with permitting and impacts associated with more than 300 miles of pipeline alignment within Florida. KECE developed standard methodologies and provided training of environmental crews conducting wetland and wildlife assessments. KECE provided support to field crews and was responsible for quality assurances of habitat mapping, wetland jurisdictional determinations, and listed species surveys along the pipeline corridor.

As part of the permitting of the project, KECE coordinated with local, state, and federal agencies on the development of conservation strategies and enhancement plans to minimize and mitigate impacts to wetlands resources and to the approximately 64 listed plant and animal species located along the 300+ mile corridor. Specific listed species conservation measures, or management plans, were prepared for the cutthroat grass, American bald eagle, southeastern American kestrel, Florida scrub jay, Florida grasshopper sparrow, listed wading birds, sand skink, bluetail mole skink, eastern indigo snake, gopher tortoise, West Indian manatee, and Sherman’s fox squirrel. To offset potential wetland impacts and wildlife impacts, we evaluated potential habitat restoration sites along the entire pipeline route. Through a team permitting review process, a consensus was reached on two coastal projects, two inland restoration projects, and the purchase of mitigation bank credits to meet the project goals and objectives, which included assurance that the Gulfstream project provided for net environmental benefits.

Following project permitting to the present, KECE has been the project lead in the enhancement/restoration design, project construction oversight, and monitoring of four habitat restoration/enhancement projects totaling more than 676 acres in Polk and Manatee Counties. Two sites are inland (Manatee and Lake Wales Forest) and include approximately 596 acres of exotic vegetation control, 185 acres of wetlands forest restoration, the creation of approximately 34 acres of marsh, and more than 200 acres of upland enhancement specifically to increase habitat to listed plant and wildlife species. Two sites are coastal (Port Manatee Spoil Island and Harbor Key) and include approximately 30 acres of exotic control, 16.4± acres of mangrove/tidal creek creation, and approximately 42 acres of upland enhancement to improve listed shorebird habitat. We were responsible for initial habitat and hydrological assessments, design of restoration plans, selection and oversight of contractors, project budgeting, and monitoring to track project success.

All of the Gulfstream environmental restoration projects have been deemed successful by the regulatory agencies. KECE is currently working with Gulfstream to ensure that these systems are maintained and transferred to a responsible entity for long term habitat management.

Additional Information on Gulfstream