Balanced Ecological Solutions

Northwest Ecological Services provides a wide range of ecological services including wetland, stream, and habitat assessments, wetland restoration and mitigation plans, Section 7 biological consultations, environmental impact assessments for projects throughout northwestern Washington. We specialize in the environments local to Whatcom, Skagit, San Juan, and Island County.

We facilitate construction and land improvement projects by helping people understand and resolve the complex issues that arise when integrating the built and natural world. We provide thoughtful and accurate analysis, guidance for positive action, and insight into the personal, legal, and practical dimensions of sustainability.

We have over thirty years of combined wetland, botanical, wildlife, and land-use experience. Count on us for high quality service, quick turn around, and fair, honest treatment on every project, from inception to conclusion.



Every project is different. If you have more questions than answers about yours, we will listen to your questions and concerns before providing you with options for moving forward.


Every project has its twists and turns. When surprises happen, it takes trusted, experienced partners to carry the project forward to completion. We’re with you every step of the way to create the outcomes you want.


We understand you are building for the long term, and so are we. We will help you create outcomes that will hold up for years to come.


Public + Private Developers

Northwest Ecological Services sheds light on land use issues to help developers complete projects with clarity and confidence. Education, experience, and knowledge of local land issues and regulations play key roles in a streamlined, well-managed development process.


Public + Private Developers

We understand the unique challenges developers face, from the single family home owner to commercial developers. We have decades of combined experience, bringing projects to successful resolution. We have forged dozens of strong partnerships with developers, municipalities, and agencies in Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, Island, and San Juan counties and have become a recognized leader in land use and development issues.

Our capabilities include a wide range of projects, from site planning to mitigation of housing developments, to construction of individual buildings, to the planning of trails, parks, and stormwater features. Our assistance can be a general review or a comprehensive analysis, monitoring ongoing or completed construction. We can also help resolve land use conflicts, contribute to long-range planning, assist with permitting challenges, and find creative solutions to complicated land use issues.


  • Knowledge of our unique local land use and natural resource conditions
  • Proven history of successful partnerships with dozens of developers, municipalities, engineers, surveyors, architects, and homeowners
  • Decades of combined experience resolving permitting, mitigation, monitoring, and assessment challenges
  • Extensive knowledge of local land use laws and procedures
  • Respected by federal, state and local regulators
  • Experience designing LEED® projects, low impact landscapes and naturalized stormwater systems

Please refer to our services page for a complete listing of services provided.



Northwest Ecological Services has successfully assisted agencies with long-range planning. Our projects include shoreline and wetland inventories, mitigation planning, facilities planning, code revision and ordinance compliance.



Our team is well versed in local laws and issues, current on regulations and permitting policies, and certified by a number of leading professional organizations.

NES is proud of our ability to work collaboratively to design low impact development projects and sustainable landscapes both within a master planning capability and project specific plans.

NES is excited to provide training and research in the areas of wetlands, wildlife, and land use ecology. Training workshops and presentations can be targeted to a range of audiences for example: special interest groups, wetland professionals, and agency staff.

There is no substitute for first-hand experience of local land issues and regulations to create effective planning tools and expedite permit review. Decades of combined experience in north Puget Sound means faster turnaround and a smoother, more efficient process.


  • First-hand experience with code regulation and enforcement
  • Decades of combined experience resolving permitting, mitigation, monitoring, and assessment challenges
  • Extensive knowledge of local land use laws and procedures
  • Understanding of low impact development goals and techniques
  • Respected by federal, state. and local regulators
  • Ability to offer instruction and training to provide a deeper understanding of land use management

Please refer to our services page for a complete listing of services provided.

Natural Resource Managers

Northwest Ecological Services has successfully assisted natural resource managers with wetland inventories and database updates, wetland field reconnaissance, wetland ratings and data forms, and GIS support services. We have also assisted with impact assessments, mitigation design, and ESA compliance.


Natural Resource Managers

NES has been providing assistance to local governments in third party review for Critical Areas Permits and development of local master plans for wetland, habitat, and shoreline programs.


  • Knowledge of our unique local land use and natural resource conditions
  • Decades of combined experience with critical area determinations and ecological assessments
  • Extensive knowledge of local land use laws and procedures
  • Ability to offer instruction and provide training

Please refer to our services page for a complete listing of services provided.


  • Sara Young, Director of Planning and Facilities, Airport Manager

    NES provided both the technical knowledge and sharp regulatory skills needed to guide our project through a complex permitting and mitigation process.

  • Gina Austin, PE MSCE, City of Bellingham Project Engineer

    NES helped envision a vibrant, healthy park that reflects our community values.

  • Richard Jefferson, former Lummi Planning Director

    NES understood the project urgency and importance to the Lummi community and helped get us to construction with amazing speed when others were still doubtful.


  • Testimonial

    Molly Porter

    Senior Ecologist

    About Molly Porter

    Molly is a senior ecologist, project manager, and principal at NES providing environmental consulting services since 2004. She has expertise in wetland ecology, water quality, stream ecology, and mitigation. Molly obtained a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science from Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University. She is also certified through the Society of Wetland Scientists (SWS) as a Professional Wetland Scientist (PWS #2064).

    Molly has a wide technical background. Her education focused on water quality and she began her career doing stream surveys for the Bureau of Land Management. She now helps manage a variety of projects from small single-family to complex mixed-use developments. Molly is especially skilled at mitigation design, construction oversight, and long-term monitoring. When she is not working, Molly enjoys camping, traveling, and spending time with her family.

  • Testimonial

    Collin Van Slyke

    Senior Ecologist

    About Collin Van Slyke

    Collin is a senior ecologist, project manager, and principal at NES providing project management and technical support for wetland, stream, and shoreline projects. Collin obtained a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science from Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University. He has experience with environmental issues relating to freshwater ecosystems, with a specialization in wetland ecology. His experience includes wetland delineations, wetland mitigation design and monitoring, exhibit creation, and geographic information systems (GIS) management. Collin is certified through the Society of Wetland Scientists (SWS) as a Professional Wetland Scientist (PWS #3129).

    Collin has a diverse skill set developed from formal education and practical experience throughout northwest Washington. He provides thoughtful project management to facilitate client goals and navigate the environmental permit process.

  • Testimonial

    Michael Whitehurst


    About Michael Whitehurst

    Michael is a biologist with a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology for the University of West Florida and certificate in wetland science and management from the University of Washington. His experience includes marine and freshwater organism identification, marine and terrestrial botany, and water quality sampling and analysis.

  • Testimonial

    Candice Trusty


    About Candice Trusty

    Candice is an ecologist with NES and obtained a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University. Her experience includes the assessment of wetland and fish & wildlife critical areas, fish removal, biological surveying, and habitat restoration. She is certified through SWS as a WPIT.


  • Biological Assessment / Biological Evaluations

    Biological Assessment /
    Biological Evaluations

    Assessments and evaluations to determine the effects of a proposed project on federally threatened and endangered species. Assessments document compliance with Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. Report findings are based upon information obtained in the formal species listings from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Work product includes a technical report detailing project description, the action area, and species habitat information, including the species listed for the site and a description of project habitat. This task typically includes a single consultation meeting with Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), or the Army Corps of Engineers.

  • Biological Supervision / Construction Oversight

    Biological Supervision / Construction Oversight

    Project installation is critical to project success. We assist contractors before, during, and after construction to ensure they understand the design and project goals. With our assistance, contractors can have their permitting questions answered and change orders approved with minimal project delays. Contractors and clients can rely on us to help keep their project on schedule and within budget.

  • Environmental Permitting

    Environmental Permitting

    We provide assistance in obtaining a variety of local, state, and federal environmental permits including:

    • JARPA – Joint Aquatic Resources Permit Application for local, state, and federal permits
    • Local Critical Areas Ordinance Permits
    • Shoreline Master Program Permits
    • Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 404 & 401 Permits: Nationwide and Individual Permits from the Army Corps of Engineers (Section 404, CWA) and Water Quality Certification from the Washington State Department of Ecology (Section 401, CWA)
    • Hydraulic Project Approval (HPA) from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

  • Low Impact and Sustainable Design

    Low Impact and
    Sustainable Design

    We are experienced in designing LEED®, low impact, and sustainable landscapes. As members of integrated design teams, we have helped contribute to a variety of land use projects including park and trail design, residential development, institutional development, and commercial development. Our areas of expertise include:

    • Sustainable site planning
    • Natural systems assessment
    • Low-water and native landscape design
    • Landscaping for wildlife
    • Rain gardens, bioswales, and naturalized stormwater wetlands
    • LEED® and LID

  • Mitigation Plans

    Mitigation Plans

    Mitigation plans are required when a project results in an impact to a critical area (wetland, stream, wildlife habitat) or its associated buffer. These plans may be required by the local, state and/or federal agency reviewing the project. Mitigation plans include a description and analysis of existing conditions, an assessment of impacts to critical areas and critical area buffers, and mitigation sequencing. It also contains a review of the requirements of local and federal jurisdictions, including local municipalities, the Army Corps of Engineers, Washington State Department of Ecology (WDOE), and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). Mitigation projects generally include creation, rehabilitation, and enhancement of wetlands, streams, and their buffers.

  • Monitoring


    Regulatory agencies require as-built reports and yearly monitoring of mitigation plans. An as-built report documents final installation of the mitigation plan. Yearly monitoring typically occurs annually for five or ten years after installation. Yearly monitoring documents the status of the mitigation plan relative to the mitigation goals, objectives, and performance standards, and includes management recommendations to ensure future project success.

  • Reconnaissance Level Survey

    Reconnaissance Level Survey

    This survey includes a site visit to provide a general assessment of wetland presence and a review of available background data sources. A field map is produced depicting the general locations of site-critical areas. This level of survey does not include flagging features or collecting data. The accuracy of a reconnaissance level survey will vary depending on site conditions. This product is useful as a planning tool, providing reasonably accurate information at a lower cost. This level of survey is not sufficient for permit submittal or site design.

  • FEMA Habitat Assessments

    FEMA Habitat Assessments

    This survey is targeted to projects that occur with a FEMA flood zone or hazard area and require an assessment of species that are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) and identified in the FEMA BiOp. The assessment includes a site visit to document existing conditions and a review of available background data sources. The final product is a report providing an analysis of how the proposed project may affect specific ESA listed species.

  • Stream Delineation

    Stream Delineation and Regulatory Assessment

    This is similar to a wetland delineation, but is directed toward identifying regulated streams, ditches and drainages. If a water is found to be jurisdictional, the Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM) is flagged in the field and indicated on a sketch map. Final product includes a technical report identifying stream type, fish use, buffer functions, and regulated buffer widths. Stream delineations may also include regulatory status analysis of manipulated features (ditches).

  • Wetland Delineation

    Wetland Delineation

    A wetland delineation provides the most accurate documentation of the location and size of a wetland. Data on vegetation, soils and surface water is collected in order to make a jurisdictional wetland determination. Wetland boundaries and regulated surface waters are identified and flagged in the field using protocols detailed in state and federal regulatory analysis documents. The final product includes a technical report identifying wetland type, categorization, wetland function assessment, and regulated buffer widths. Wetland delineations are generally required for local land development permits.



2801 Meridian Street, Suite 202
Bellingham, WA 98225




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