Environmental Group Staff

Lucas M. Watkins

Principal Environmental Scientist

Mr. Watkins is the founding principal, who provides guidance and oversight for ELOS projects. As the ELOS Quality Assurance Manager, Mr. Watkins establishes quality objectives for each product and ensures that all deliverables meet the standards required by the client. He is the principal-in-charge, who also ensures that ELOS acquires the best tools and techniques to ensure efficient and cost-effective delivery of our services. Mr. Watkins is a biologist and wetlands ecologist by education who specializes in regulatory compliance. He has extensive experience identifying and addressing environmental compliance issues which cover numerous sectors of the environmental industry including wetland delineations, wetland permitting, coastal use permits, Section 10 and 404 permits, environmental assessments, Phase I ESAs, endangered species surveys, timber and forestry management, and mitigation issues. Mr. Watkins also has experience in permitting municipal infrastructure, levees, borrow pits, oil and gas exploration, production, and transmission activities, as well as working on other public and private sector environmental related issues. He received his B.S. in Forest Management from Louisiana State University and a M.S. in Biology (Wetland Ecology) from Southeastern Louisiana University. In addition, he is a licensed arborist, licensed horticulturist, certified prescribed burn manager, and a licensed nuisance wildlife control operator. He recently completed the NHI Course in NEPA evaluation and documentation.

James M. Prather III

Environmental Scientist

Mr. Prather is the co-founding principal and Vice President of ELOS. Along with Mr. Watkins, he has worked to grow ELOS’ services to include an ever-widening array of capabilities, supported by the most up-to-date technologies, to fulfill our clients’ needs. Since founding ELOS, Mr. Prather has worked with clients at every level of government, as well as large and small private sector clients, meeting their goals and earning a reputation for providing excellent services. Mr. Prather also serves as a regulatory compliance specialist with over 10 years of experience specializing in mitigation, wetland determinations, and permitting as required by the Coastal Zone Management Act and the Section 404 Clean Water Act. He has experience in using AutoCAD and ArcGIS in the process of completing various projects. Mr. Prather has received numerous certifications from various schools and agencies to perform Phase I ESAs and wetland delineations. He is also FERC certified. He received his bachelor’s degree from Southeastern Louisiana University and has participated in projects such as the permitting of bypass and toll roads, large-scale residential developments, and governmental infrastructure expansion projects. Mr. Prather is thoroughly familiar with the regulations and regulatory process of numerous governing agencies, as he deals with the various agencies on a daily basis. Some of these governing agencies include the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, United States Coast Guard, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and the Louisiana State Lands Office.

Ronald J. Ventola

Director of Regulatory Services, M.E.

Mr. Ventola has over thirty years of experience in environmental regulation and management. He was the Chief of the Regulatory Branch, New Orleans District, US Army Corps of Engineers for over twenty-five years. While with the Corps of Engineers, he served as a key member of the Field Review Group that advises the Environmental Laboratory of ERDC on various environmental and regulatory issues and topics. Mr. Ventola also participated in Headquarters task forces and work groups related to regulatory and environmental matters. At ELOS, Mr. Ventola has served as the principal advisor to the technical staff as related to regulatory matters. He has developed strategies to resolve issues with state and federal regulatory agencies and has assisted technical staff in addressing issues raised by these agencies. He has extensive contacts in the regulatory and environmental communities and speaks at professional meetings on regulatory or environmental topics. Mr. Ventola received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Louisiana State University and his Master of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering from Tulane University.

Rocky Hinds

Regulatory Specialist/Environmental Scientist

Mr. Hinds has more than twenty-five years’ experience in evaluating and monitoring wetland impacts caused by development projects. For sixteen years he managed the Permits and Mitigation Program for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Coastal Management Division. While at DNR, he wrote the Louisiana Coastal Wetlands Conservation and Management Strategy and oversaw the development of the Louisiana Statewide Wetlands Conservation and Management Strategy and a state strategy for the assumption of Section 404 permitting in Louisiana. He has certifications from the Corps and LSU in wetland delineation. Mr. Hinds holds a BS in Zoology from Montana State University and an MS in Physiology from LSU.

Brian Fortson

Senior Environmental Scientist

Mr. Fortson has nearly 25 years’ experience in Federal, State, and Local environmental regulatory processes involved with road, bridge, and drainage civil works infrastructure. Beginning with the initial Parish efforts at developing a local coastal program in 1988, Mr. Fortson acted as Local Coastal Program Administrator under the St. Tammany Parish Local Coastal Program (a localized regulatory program administered under the federal Coastal Zone Management Act). As Coastal and Wetland Environmental Resources Manager for St. Tammany Parish Government, Mr. Fortson supervised a staff of three employees responsible for all field investigations, enforcement and monitoring operations involved with the Parish Local Coastal Program. Performing site inspections, permit evaluations, wetland value assessments, and field verifying wetland delineations were the primary responsibilities in regard to this program. As an employee of the St. Tammany Parish Department of Engineering between 1996 and 2013, Mr. Fortson was called upon to review road, bridge and drainage infrastructure projects at the initial level and provide regulatory guidance in the project planning phases of development to ensure environmental compliance. During construction, Mr. Fortson was also expected to conduct frequent field inspections of Parish and private construction projects to monitor environmental compliance. Where and when permits were required, Mr. Fortson supervised the collection of field data, preparation and submittal of wetland determination requests, permit application preparation, and permit negotiations (value assessments, mitigation negotiations, and impact minimization) for most Department of Engineering and Department of Public Works infrastructure efforts. Mr. Fortson’s role at St. Tammany has been primarily to coordinate permitting St. Tammany Parish’s infrastructure improvements, either in house, or through the use of outside consulting firms. He has experience in Corps Section 10 and Section 404 permitting, Coastal Zone Management Act requirements, Water Quality Certifications, U.S. Coast Guard Bridge Permits, and State of Louisiana Natural and Scenic Rivers Act permitting.

John Johnston III

Senior Geologist

Mr. Johnston holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in geological sciences from the University of Southern California and the University of Texas and has served as a geologist for Shell Oil Company, Exxon Company, USA, and the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology. He has variously served as part-time faculty and taught petroleum engineering, English, geography, and geology at Louisiana State University (LSU) and geology at the University of Louisiana, and also served as an adjunct full professor. John is the chairman of the Louisiana Stratigraphic Commission and is a past president and past director of the Baton Rouge Geological Society. He joined the Louisiana Geological Survey (LGS) from Exxon as a Senior Research Geologist, was later named Chief Economic Geologist and then Deputy Director, and also served for several years as the acting head of the LGS. His title changed to Assistant Director when the Louisiana Legislature transferred the LGS from DNR to LSU in 1997. He is the author and/or co-author of a number of publications, including the Official Stratigraphic Charts of Louisiana. His areas of expertise are petroleum geology and environmental geology. LGS emergency support teams under John’s leadership, detached from the LGS during critical emergencies to report to the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, have been repeatedly commended for their emergency, scientific support, mapping, and search and rescue efforts during and after hurricanes – including Andrew, Katrina, Rita, Gustav, and Ike – and have been credited with saving lives. John is a Certified Professional Geologist, holds Louisiana Professional Geoscientist License #1, and is the recipient of a Louisiana Governor’s Award for outstanding public service. He was appointed by Governor Jindal to the Louisiana Board of Professional Geoscientists in 2012 and serves as its vice-chairman. He is also a published fiction and non-fiction author and a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) and a recipient of SFWA’s Nebula Award.

Flynn Daigle

Project Manager/Environmental Specialist

Mr. Daigle graduated from Louisiana State University in 2005 with a degree in Environmental Management Systems. Since then he has gained extensive experience in many phases of environmental compliance, including National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Section 10 and 404 permitting, wetland delineations, Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessments, Executive Order 11988-Floodplain Management, and much more. He joined ELOS after working for BP where he reviewed claims associated with oiled wetlands affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Along with environmental compliance, he has developed a strong background in safety compliance through the performance of field and safety compliance checks and meetings. He is a Certified Floodplain Manager under the Association of State Floodplain Managers.

Patrick MacDanel

NEPA Specialist/Environmental Scientist

Mr. MacDanel’s experience includes more than 37 years of dealing with environmental issues, involving approximately six years as an environmental chemist serving the oil and gas industry and other industrial clients; seven years as an engineering technician designing and overseeing oil and gas well completion operations, which included the safe handling and disposal of hazardous materials and wastes generated by well production stimulation techniques; one year in hazardous waste recycling (for fuel recovery); and most recently, 24 years in the environmental consulting industry serving governmental and private industry clients. His most significant expertise is in project management of environmental impact documentation required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1970, as well as other environmental investigations and planning analyses mandated under various environmental regulations. His NEPA related projects have included governmental actions on the Federal, State and local level, as well as private enterprise actions, where Federal permitting is involved. He has managed the preparation of all levels of NEPA documentation, including Categorical Exclusions (CE or CX), Environmental Assessments (EA), and Environmental Impact Statements (EIS). Federal governmental agencies served have included US Army Corps of Engineers (Districts all over the eastern half of the US), US Forest Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, US Coast Guard, US Army, US Air Force, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Federal Communications Commission, US Department of Agriculture, and others. State and local governmental agencies served have included several departments of transportation, departments of public works, departments of environmental quality, departments of natural resources, departments of wildlife management, among others. He has received specialized training in historic properties effects and reporting; pipeline impact assessment, reporting, and management; hazardous materials worker safety; and transportation project impact assessment. He is also a US Navy Vietnam veteran.

Brittany Berthelot

Environmental Scientist

Ms. Berthelot is a graduate of Louisiana State University earning an M.S. degree in Environmental Sciences with a minor in Wetland Science and Management. She also holds a B.S. degree in Biological Sciences from Southeastern Louisiana University. While earning her master’s, Brittany served as an intern with the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana (CPRA) where she worked with both CPRA and the Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator’s Office (LOSCO) on Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) projects caused by oil pollution. Her master’s thesis, “Impact of Exposure to Weathered Crude Oil and Accumulation of PAHs in Crawfish (Procambarus clarkii)” won the Fujisaki Award for outstanding thesis research in the Department of Environmental Sciences, College of Coast and Environment at Louisiana State University in 2017. Brittany has also completed the 38-hour Army Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineation Training Program and the NHI Course in NEPA evaluation and documentation. At ELOS, she has worked to secure permits and authorizations from regulatory agencies including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She is responsible for the management of ELOS employees to maximize the effectiveness and timeliness of ELOS’s work through the appropriate allocation of resources and personnel while also acting as a project manager on many critical initiatives.

Jesse McQuigg

GIS Manager/UAV Operator

Mr. McQuigg is the GIS Department Manager and certified UAV operator for ELOS. He graduated in May of 2014 with honors from Northshore Technical Community College, with a degree in Drafting and Design, specializing in AutoCAD. While completing his degree, Mr. McQuigg acquired a position with a local engineering company as a survey drafter, expanding his knowledge within the civil/surveying industry. Since joining the ELOS family, Mr. McQuigg rapidly rose to become the GIS Manager. He is skilled in all aspects of GIS data collection ranging from geospatial analysis to mapping and cartography, AutoCAD software conversions, ArcGIS tools, and online/offline mapping applications. No ELOS project or service is provided without support from GIS. Since taking over as the GIS Department Manager, Mr. McQuigg has implemented cutting-edge techniques to enhance ELOS’ services for a wide range of projects including: wetland delineations/jurisdictional determinations, permitting and regulatory compliance, cultural resource management, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance and reporting, oyster surveys, and marsh and ridge restoration projects among others. Utilizing his experience in GPS and field data collection techniques, AutoCAD to ArcMap conversion and integration techniques, and mapping and cartographic techniques, Mr. McQuigg has streamlined the data analysis process by implementing updated procedures for ELOS staff. By ensuring that all of the data collected in the field, including photo documentation, is loaded onto mobile devices, provided to our field crew members, and transmitted via cellular signal and/or WIFI, Mr. McQuigg has ensured that ELOS can deliver data in real-time to office staff, the client’s team, or an engineering partner for review and processing, allowing project managers to make corrections/additions to field operations and, in this way, avoid cost/time overruns and missed opportunities. Mr. McQuigg is responsible for review of all ELOS GIS products, ensuring that each product is not only completed in an efficient manner but is professionally presented and highly polished. Mr. McQuigg is also responsible for ELOS’ ESRI account, for training of field and office personnel in GIS, and for keeping ELOS up to date on the latest techniques and technologies to serve our clients. His most recent accomplishment is earning his Part 107 certification which allows ELOS to perform remote aerial surveys using drone technology, thereby increasing mapping, research, and data collection capabilities as well as safety, efficiency, and geographic reach while providing a non-invasive method of field investigations.

Maria Bernard Reid

NEPA Specialist/Environmental Scientist

Ms. Reid has over 18 years of experience in National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance in both the public and private sectors. She managed, planned, and participated in projects requiring protected species surveys, general wildlife inventories, forest inventories, biological assessments (BA), wetland delineations and permitting, Categorical Exclusions (CE), Environmental Assessments (EA), and Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Michigan, New York, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Arkansas, Texas, California, New Mexico, and Arizona. She worked with federal and state government clients including U.S. Department of the Army, Department of the Navy, Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Forest Service, and Louisiana DOTD. Ms. Reid earned an M.S. degree from Louisiana State University in Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness with specialized concentration in Natural Resources Policy and a B.S. in Forest Management with a minor in Wildlife Management. Her specialized areas of expertise include: protected species surveys and Section 7 consultation, natural resources management, public outreach, and bike/pedestrian transportation projects.

Carey Lynn Perry

NEPA Specialist/Environmental Scientist

Ms. Perry’s experience includes over 11 years of project and program management in both the public and private sectors. At Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Ms. Perry was the Natural Heritage Program Manager. Her specialized areas of expertise include: contract and grant proposal preparation and acquisition; federal and state regulatory compliance; NEPA analysis; threatened and endangered species management; coastal and riparian habitat restoration planning and monitoring; biological data collection and statistical analysis; compensatory wetland mitigation planning and design; and wetland functional assessments. Ms. Perry earned an M.S. degree from Louisiana State University in Oceanography and Coastal Sciences and a B.S. in Marine Science with a concentration in Marine Biology from Eckerd College. She has a diverse background in coastal and marine sciences and habitat restoration, including research experience in Florida, Louisiana, Oregon, the Caribbean and Pacific coastal regions of Costa Rica, mangrove and near-shore habitats in Melaque, Mexico, and coastal plant and coral communities in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. Ms. Perry has participated in wetland restoration projects, protected species surveys, general wildlife inventories, wetland delineations and permitting, and has completed HEP, WVAs, and the Hydrogeomorphic (HGM) Wetland Assessment for projects across the U.S. Ms. Perry has also prepared NEPA documents for projects across the U.S., and has conducted numerous wetland delineations and statistical analyses of biological data collected in the southeastern U.S., in particular.

R. Charles Ellis

Environmental Project Manager; LLM Energy and Environmental Law

Mr. Ellis has over 25 years of experience in the environmental field. He acted as a Supervisor in the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic from 1994-1996 and was involved in numerous facility siting disputes in that role. He served as the past President of the Environmental Law Section of the Louisiana State Bar Association and has, in private practice, represented numerous industrial clients in cases involving disputed facility siting and permitting. In his role at ELOS he does not provide legal services; rather, he uses his unique experience to assist in the preparation of permit applications that will best resist challenges by permit opponents. Mr. Ellis was granted the Tulane Environmental Law Fellowship in 1994 and earned a Master of Laws in Energy and the Environment from Tulane University in 1996 (graduating with distinction).

Martin “Marty” Healey

R.P.A, Senior Archaeologist

Mr. Healey holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Miami where he earned a bachelor’s degree with a double major in Marine Science and Anthropology and a master’s degree in Marine Affairs and Policy, specializing in Submerged Cultural Resource Management and Coastal Zone Management from the University of Miami’s Roenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS). Mr. Healey has accrued 35 years of experience in the studies of both natural and cultural resources during his career working in academia, local and state government, and the private sector, and is well versed in terrestrial and maritime cultural resource management practices. He has served as a Principle Investigator and Project Manager for approximately 35,000 acres of Phase I Cultural Resources Surveys, 40 Phase II Cultural Resource Investigations, conducted reconnaissance surveys, completed 65 Historic Cemetery assessments and management plans, underwater remote sensing surveys, and underwater dive investigations and various research projects for the USACE, DOD, USDA, NRCS, and DHS CBP. Some of Mr. Healey’s other major accomplishments include being employed with the University of Miami’s RSMAS where he held a number of positions over his 13-year tenure, including: teaching assistant, shipboard scientific technician, dive safety officer and research associate, and having served as the state of Florida’s state-wide Cultural Resources Manager, overseeing all cultural resources for the Department of Military Affairs facilities within the state. Mr. Healy was also the Coastal Training Program Coordinator for the Guana Tolomato National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTM NERR). He has extensive training through the Department of Defense (DOD) in Section 106 and Section 110 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), Environmental Quality, Cultural Resources Management, Natural Resource Management, and Risk Communications. He is considered skilled in government-to-government communications under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and Section 106 of the NHPA as well as other local, state and federal laws and regulations concerning historic resources.

Adam Trahan

Environmental Scientist/Oyster Biologist

Mr. Trahan is an Environmental Scientist with experience in estuarine data collection, hydraulic and hydrodynamic modeling support, and coastal restoration project support. He is knowledgeable in the operation, maintenance, and calibration of a vast array of hydrologic instrumentation. As a scientific diver, Mr. Trahan provides support for benthic organism collection for population density distribution calculations on identified benthic communities. Mr. Trahan is an Oyster Lease Damage Evaluation Board (OLDEB) oyster biologist and is part of the oyster resource assessment team that works closely with oil and gas companies to evaluate oyster resources on public water bottoms and private leases. Surveys are conducted to define the bottom types present in areas of interest according to protocols established by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Department of Natural Resources OLDEB. A report detailing the findings is filed with LDWF, CPRA, and the client. Mr. Trahan has performed water bottom assessments throughout most of Louisiana’s basins. Since joining ELOS, Mr. Trahan has worked in support of various projects which must take benthic communities and impacts to those communities into consideration.

Cory Ricks

Environmental Scientist

Mr. Ricks served as a contracted field team leader for ELOS Environmental, LLC for debris assessment in Livingston Parish during the flood of August 2016. Hired to fill a full-time position as an Environmental Technician, Mr. Ricks worked on wetland delineations, requests for jurisdictional determinations, biological surveys, and cultural resource surveys. He was subsequently promoted to Environmental Scientist, and now leads ELOS’ field team in wetland delineation efforts for development, mitigation banking, and infrastructure projects. Mr. Ricks also acts as the field team lead for biological surveys for threatened and endangered (T&E) species, migratory and colonial wading birds, and bald eagles, while continuing to support field surveys for cultural resource investigations. Other experience includes Section 404/10 permitting including requesting Section 408 permissions from the USACE for modifications to federal flood protection and navigation projects. Most recently, in order to further enhance his expertise in delineating jurisdictional wetlands, Mr. Ricks completed the 38-hour Army Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineation Training Program.