Natural Resources & Biodiversity
Antero values and strives to maintain the important cultural resources and healthy and diverse ecosystems and communities in which we operate. Our biodiversity policy outlines our approach and framework for assessing projects in areas of high ecological and cultural importance. We are committed to minimizing impacts on the diverse ecological systems that exist where we operate, in accordance with the applicable regulatory requirements and through implementation of one or more of the following approaches:
- Avoidance – Evaluate avoidance options by working with the surface owner(s), design and construction teams to consider primary and alternative locations and scope and/or timing of project construction to avoid impacts to a vulnerable species and/or sensitive ecosystems and medium to high probability cultural sites, when possible.
- Minimization – Evaluate minimization options by working with the landowner, design and construction teams to consider primary and alternative locations and scope and/or timing of project construction to avoid impacts to a vulnerable species and/or sensitive ecosystems and medium to high probability cultural sites, when possible.
- Restoration – Work with the surface owner(s) to conduct on-site restoration, reestablish an ecosystem’s composition, structure, and function to a healthy state.
- Mitigation – When necessary, develop and achieve measurable conservation outcomes that can mitigate residual impacts after appropriate avoidance, minimization and restoration measures have been applied.
In the planning, development, and construction process, Antero takes measures to:
- Understand and comply with laws and regulations intended to protect and preserve the ecosystems in which we operate, including the requirements to conduct baseline studies and impact assessments;
- Train employees on the importance of environmental protection and provide information on the species or habitat sensitivities on the location or project which they are working;
- Engage with stakeholders on biodiversity issues pertaining to our proposed, new and ongoing operations; and
- Implement industry best practices and lessons learned from prior projects.
Antero evaluates the impacts of projects in critical habitats or other areas with recognized high biodiversity value and High Conservation Value (HCV) areas. Our framework for project review considers avoidance and minimization measures during initial permitting strategy development and in preliminary field investigations.
At the start of a project, Antero performs extensive desktop analyses utilizing the projects limits of disturbance (LOD) and documents the results using a desktop analysis checklist.
Performing desktop analyses in the early planning stages utilizing tools, regulations and guidance provided by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), West Virginia and Ohio State Historic Preservation Office (WV/OH SHPO), OH Environmental Protection Agency (OH EPA), WV Department of Natural Resources (WV DNR), WV Department of Environmental Protection (WV DEP), WV DNR Office of Land and Streams (OLS) and county floodplain ordinances, allows for consideration and evaluation of the following:
- Preliminary investigation of the jurisdictional aquatic features and hydric soils, utilizing the USFWS National Wetland Inventory (NWI) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Soil Web Soil Survey (WSS), occurring within an expanded area of interest (AOI);
- Preliminary investigation of threatened, endangered or protected species and their designated critical habitat as defined in our Protected Species Matrix utilizing the USFWS Information for Planning and Consultation online tool (IPaC) and our environmental viewer, an internal environmental mapping tool displaying state protected aquatic species habitat locations, occurring within an expanded AOI;
- Preliminary investigation of known cultural resources finds and other medium and high probability sites for historic properties utilizing state SHPO viewers and considering topography and project sites characteristics;
- Utilizing Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) data to determine if the project LOD is in a floodplain;
- Evaluating stormwater flow data and whether the project LOD occurs in a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) watershed;
- Evaluation of state protected waters; and
- Consideration of any other sensitive areas or sites of concern identified during this stage of project planning.
Following the desktop analyses and once all landowner permissions are obtained, a field assessment is performed to further investigate and evaluate the aforementioned resources. During this subsequent investigation, a Qualified Wetland Professional (and if applicable, a protected species and habitat specialist and cultural resources specialist) conduct a field assessment of the project area, which includes an expanded area of interest (e.g., 150 feet in both directions from the outer limits of disturbance on linear projects and 150 feet from the outer limits of disturbance of non-linear projects). We maintain past project data in our internal environmental mapping system, which allows us to better plan for future project construction in the areas in which we operate.
When impacts cannot be avoided, the appropriate state and federal agencies (USACE, USFWS, WV DNR, OH EPA, WV SHPO, OH SHPO, WV DEP and county floodplain agencies) are consulted on permitting strategy and how to best minimize, restore, and offset impacts.
Through our thorough review process and associated conservation efforts, Antero has conserved 443 acres of habitat for endangered bats in West Virginia and Ohio, installed 266 bat boxes (man-made habitats for bats) on Antero sites to provide habitat for threatened and endangered bats, and performed large scale data collection efforts throughout our operating areas to determine absence of those bats.
In addition to efforts protecting threatened and endangered species, Antero implements best management practices in all of our construction and development activities. For example, when trees are cut for projects, they are stacked strategically to enhance wildlife habitat. Right of Ways are stabilized and reseeded with seed mixes that provide wildlife habitat and food sources. Antero also believes in reducing our impact beyond our projects. The corporate headquarters in Denver, CO are LEED Certified and all Antero buildings have an extensive recycling program.
Antero understands and believes in the importance of cultural resources. During the desktop analysis the area is reviewed for potential known historical sites or structures using historical aerial photographs, US Geological Survey maps, our internal GIS viewer (which shows habitat types and floodplain areas more likely to have a high probability of cultural finds) and state cultural databases. If it is determined that sites exist within our project area of investigation or that there is potential for sites to exist, a field survey is performed by a third party, cultural expert. We then work with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to first avoid, then minimize and offset any impacts to cultural resources.
Currently, Antero is working with the West Virginia SHPO on a categorical exclusion agreement that establishes an expanded level of effort associated with our cultural resources investigations. Antero’s inadvertent discovery plan details what to do if cultural resources are found during construction. This includes halting all work immediately, bringing in a cultural expert to determine if the resources are historic, and consulting with the State Historic Preservation Office if needed.
Often, Antero goes beyond what is required by performing voluntary due diligence on projects. At several sites, we have documented historic properties through local interviews, architectural drawings and written accounts. We understand the importance of a community’s history and help to document and preserve that history where we live and work. Further, all artifacts found during Antero cultural surveys are documented and then returned to the landowners where they were found. If the owner does not want the artifacts, Antero curates and donates them to West Virginia’s Grave Creek Mound Archeological Complex or the Ohio History Connection for permanent curation.
Antero has evaluated the CDP - Forest questionnaire and has determined that it is not applicable to our operations.