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HOW WE CAME ABOUT

windmill1Working as a project manager and biologist for several large private consulting firms, ACS owner, Mike Balistreri, became acutely aware of the inherent inefficiencies that prevail within the environmental consulting industry. Complex layers of management, lack of specific expertise, exceedingly large overheads, an unhealthy obsession with being billable, and a stretched-thin workforce all contribute to unnecessary expense, delay, and, quite often, inferior deliverables. Combining Mike’s desire to pursue a better way of doing things and his inherent interest in wind energy, ACS was formed in 2006 to focus solely on the myriad of environmental issues associated with wind energy developments – and to play an active role in the promotion of wind energy by maintaining the highest level of integrity in the eyes of the wind industry, regulatory agencies, stakeholders, and the general public.

COMPANY STRUCTURE

ACS is not only unique among consulting firms for its singular focus on wind energy, but also for its company structure. Rather than having employees in the traditional sense, we rely on a network of skilled subcontractors who are directed and overseen by key ACS staff members. This business model has many advantages over the more traditional corporate structure, including: it benefits from a wider range of personnel experiences and cognitive syntheses than might be available from a work force confined under a common employer; it drastically reduces overhead; it allows us to choose the most qualified individual for a particular task; it increases our networking capabilities throughout the country. Not only do these advantages result in superior, defensible services, they save time, money, and provide for the type of quick responsiveness that is essential to many adaptive management and "red flag" situations.

KEY ACS STAFF

Each key member of the ACS staff has over 20 years of experience in their respective disciplines and comes to ACS from some of the largest resource and engineering firms in the country. ACS personnel have worked on hundreds of private, public, and tribal projects. This extensive experience allows us to quickly unravel complex and idiosyncratic issues, and it gives us the background necessary to reliably determine which methodologies have the greatest potential for success.

Mike Balistreri

Owner, Biologist, Bat and NEPA Specialist

mikeThe focus of Mike Balistreri’s broad field and technical expertise during the last 23 years has been the evaluation of habitat sites for threatened and endangered plant and wildlife species, and the assessment and mitigation of potential impacts to these species.  Formally trained as an ecologist and environmental physiologist, Mike is able to bring a unique perspective to a wide variety of field surveys and investigations.  Mike has personally conducted biological surveys on over 4,000 miles of linear rights-of-way and along more than 1,000 miles of roadway for various private, state, tribal, and federal projects.  He has also assessed potential environmental impacts for localized actions such as cell tower installations, bridge replacements, pit mining operations, drill sites, water tower construction, dam construction, and diverse residential, commercial, and municipal developments in a wide range of natural and urban settings.

Mike has authored over 200 environmental reports including Biological Assessments, Biological Evaluations, Categorical Exclusions, as well as NEPA-mandated Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements that have involved inter-agency consultation and coordination.  These reports have addressed impacts to lands administered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. National Park Service, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, and various tribal and state agencies.

Mike has received specialized training and certification from the USFWS to conduct southwest willow flycatcher, spotted owl, black-footed ferret, and desert tortoise surveys.  He also possesses handling and survey permits for various state and federal protected plant and wildlife species throughout the Southwest.  With over 30 years of rock climbing and mountaineering experience, Mike is well-qualified to work in very remote and inaccessible areas. Mike is an active member of the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative and is involved with several of its working groups.

Gerry Raymond

Archaeologist, Cultural Resource Specialist

gerryAs a Registered Professional Archaeologist, Gerry Raymond has supervised more than 100 archaeological projects, including large-scale archaeological surveys, historic building and structure evaluations, and intensive data recovery projects in urban and rural areas throughout the western United States.  Currently, Gerry is permitted as a Principal Investigator by the New Mexico State Historic Preservation Officer, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.  He is also listed on the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division’s directory of historians, and thus qualified to perform historic evaluations of buildings, bridges, and other structures.

During Gerry’s 15 years of professional cultural resource management, he has been the sole or senior author of over 80 cultural resource reports.  During this time, he has acquired a keen understanding of the intricacies of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and of the NEPA process as it pertains to cultural resource management.  Gerry is also well-acquainted with the particulars of the National Register of Historic Places, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and many state and federal antiquity regulations.

In 2006, Gerry left his position as Senior Planner and Manager of the Cultural Resources Group at Parsons Brinckerhoff in order to form Raymond Cultural Resources Consulting.  He started this business to provide the environmental community with focused, high-quality cultural resource and archaeological services.  Since then, Gerry has become Managing Principal of Criterion Environmental Consulting, a full-service cultural resource and environmental consulting firm in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Zack Stauber

GIS, CAD, Mapping, and 3D Modeling Specialist

zack_imageZack Stauber is currently a faculty member with the College of New Mexico’s Applied Technologies Department and comes to ACS as an independent contractor.  Zack is certified as a GIS/LIS mapping scientist by the American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing and has assembled an impressive technological skill set over the last 12 years.

Working for international engineering and consulting firms, Zack has been responsible for technical leadership on large regional orthophotography projects, as well as various planimetric and topographic mapping investigations.  Zack is skilled at spatial analyses and cartographic productions including GIS and CAD mapping, 3D modeling and animation, field data acquisition with hand held GPS and total station equipment, and visualization for litigation support in forensic and land claims cases.  Working for the United Nations, Zack has been involved with technical field data acquisition and cartographic productions for litigation support in war crimes trials in the former Yugoslavia.

Zack is proficient with the following mapping, programming, and animation software: Z/I Imaging ImageStation Automatic Aerotriangulation, Automatic Elevation, Base Rectifier, and OrthoPro; ESRI ArcGIS ArcInfo 9.1 and ArcView 3.2; Intergraph GeoMedia 6.0; Oracle 10g Spatial; Inpho OrthoVista 4.1; PostgreSQL 8.1 / PostGIS 1.0; ERDAS Imagine 8.4; Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0, Visual C++ 6.0, and Visual C# .NET 2005.

WHY "AVIAN"?

Although Avian Consulting Services is well-equipped to design and conduct a myriad of bird surveys and studies, our expertise obviously reaches far beyond avian issues. So why the name "Avian"? Quite simply, we like the sound of the word and the images it conjures up. Open skies, soaring, making the most efficient use of the wind, and the like, all seem to tie in closely with the concept of wind energy. And certainly, avian issues have been at the forefront of wind energy development for some time. The name was also inspired by the the masters of soaring - turkey vultures - that kept a constant eye on ACS's soon-to-be founder while he conducted year-long surveys at a wind farm near Abilene, Texas. This accounts for the turkey vulture being incorporated into the ACS logo.

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