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Business gauges environmental effects of development projects

Updated November 9, 2020 - 1:32 pm

Gila monsters, desert tortoises, kit foxes, bats and bighorn sheep can all be in a day’s work for the staff of a Boulder City environmental consulting firm.

Started in 2015 by resident and biologist Alana Wise, Bio Logical, 1400 Colorado St., Suite 3, is working to make sure development projects do not adversely affect the environment.

“It’s an incredible moment when you get to briefly be in the presence of a wild animal and interact with it, especially in the desert where so many people think of barrenness,” Wise said.

Wise and her staff help contractors with the required environmental assessments for their projects. Those assessments include archaeology, hydrology and visual resources in order to mitigate any impact on the area’s environment. The work includes using heavy equipment, being the only humans for miles and interacting with desert wildlife.

“Out here in the Southwest, especially the Mojave, we have Gila monsters, tortoises, bats, all kinds of eagles/raptors, and even really rare fish or toads, not to mention Boulder City’s beloved bighorns. … With any of the animals, there can be some pretty hands-on work; sometimes animals have to be relocated or have health assessments done,” said Sherri Mantanona, Bio Logical’s chief operating officer.

“Construction crews get training before breaking ground on the species in the area, and how to make their site safer for them — things like covering up trenches at the end of the day so animals can’t get trapped or not leaving out lunches for ravens to steal,” added Wise. “Equipment can be inspected so seed or plant matter can’t accidentally transfer noxious weeds from one location to another, and work crews are restricted to stay within their specified area. That’s in part our job as consultants, or biologists — to assist with carrying out these components.”

Mantanona also said that biologists develop a knack for reading “the animals’ dispositions” so they can figure out how to proceed and handle “unique behaviors and personalities.”

“You can tell pretty quickly if a tortoise is going to just let you draw its blood or if a kit fox is going to try and take off your finger,” she said. “Sometimes you just stop and look around; you become part of the scene and just nod to the burro 200 meters from you and go about your business.”

Since starting Bio Logical, Wise and Mantanona have worked on projects with Nevada Energy, Nevada Department of Transportation, Sempra Energy, First Solar, Kern River Gas Transmission Co. and Valley Electric Association Inc.

“The reality of our world is that humans are going to keep developing,” said Mantanona. “Our population isn’t decreasing and neither are our advances in technology. The best thing that we can do for ourselves is develop responsibly and by having everyone on board, from construction crews to city planners then we can try to balance our needs with respect to the environment.”

Their workload has been growing, and Mantanona said they have been able to work remotely in town but now they are looking for a larger local space.

“The best part of being a part of Boulder City business is building strong relationships with the surrounding business community which contributes to creating such a dependable and tight-knit network,” she said.

“It has definitely amplified the impacts of our contributions to one another and the community, really giving us a returned feeling for the boutique business style that we ourselves put forth,” added Wise. “The Boulder City Chamber (of Commerce), first and foremost, has been such a huge supporter and proponent to foster the friendly neighbor feel for our interactions in our hometown.”

Their work was recently recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration when it named the company the 2020 Micro Enterprise of the Year.

“Winning Nevada’s Micro Enterprise Award, … Bio Logical distinguished themselves among other small micro businesses in the state for their achievements, hard work and dedication,” said Saul Ramos, deputy district director for the Nevada office of USBA. “This year more than ever, we thank Nevada’s small business owners for their determination, we celebrate their hard work and we stand with them through these trying times.”

“For us, it’s definitely a validation … . It reopens our eyes and tells us we are on the right track,” Mantanona said.

Its work includes specialty services with caring for desert tortoises, specialized species management, plants and birds.

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at cgoodyear@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.

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