Pipeline company representatives begin the process by contacting each landowner to request permission to survey and stake the preliminary route for environmental, engineering and construction evaluations. Our goal is for every landowner to understand all of the proposed features of the pipeline prior to construction, including the underground depth, pipe size, temporary and permanent width of the easement and above-ground equipment. A Construction Stipulation Agreement may be used to address and specify mutually agreed-upon landowner requirements.
Field surveys are critical for gathering information that will be used to determine the best possible pipeline route. With minimal disturbance to residents, we consider geography and ecology, as well as an area’s architectural, historical and archaeological features. These surveys can be divided into the following categories:
Engineering surveys are how we take relatively large-scale, accurate measurements of the earth’s surface. We do this in order to establish marks to control construction and to indicate land boundaries. This process normally doesn’t take longer than two days and usually involves crews of two or three people using lightweight, GPS-enabled instruments to take measurements related to terrain and topography. The only evidence that a civil survey has taken place are the small wooden stakes placed in the ground to identify specific geographical survey points, such as wetland or property boundaries.
Environmental surveys are performed to map and catalogue existing environmental conditions. They are critical to provide a comprehensive view of natural resources, so that we can fully understand potential environmental issues within the project area. These field surveys are conducted by qualified scientists and environmental experts (ecologists, botanists, biologists) who have detailed knowledge of the plant and animal species and natural communities expected to be present on the site. Initial environmental surveys last just a couple days for each property. Scientists carefully examine the survey area on foot, identifying and mapping species habitat and completing thorough biological inventories. Some areas may require additional, more thorough species-specific biological surveys. These surveys must be done at appropriate times during the year to adequately survey for all listed species. The duration and methods will vary widely depending upon the species being surveyed.
Cultural Resource surveys are a means to identify and gather information on a property’s architectural, historical and archaeological resources. Cultural resources are evidence of past human activity. These may include pioneer homes, buildings or old roads; structures with unique architecture; prehistoric village sites; historic or prehistoric artifacts or objects; rock engravings called petroglyphs; human burial sites; and earthworks, such as battlefield entrenchments, historic canals or prehistoric mounds. A qualified cultural resources expert will begin by researching the area, which may include interviews with landowners, local historians and archaeologists to gather information on where historic sites and artifacts may be present. That will be followed by a thorough field examination to assess the project area’s physical condition as well as to determine whether there are any archaeological sites visible on the ground surface. During this stage, the field team will note any visible cultural resources, photograph any structures and document both the type and level of disturbance that may have compromised the physical integrity of archaeological sites. Cultural resources surveys on a specific property normally last just a few days, but the duration may vary depending upon the significance of potential discoveries.
It is our policy to only survey on properties where we have obtained permission from the landowner. If there are any concerns or issues with the survey process, you are encouraged to contact us immediately. We treat all landowners with respect and honor their decision with regard to granting survey permission.