Watershed Environmental

The leading provider of GIS, biological consulting, and environmental planning in California's Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties. Our reputation is built on innovative solutions to today's complex environmental and regulatory problems.


Who We Are

Arctostaphylos refugioensis

Arctostaphylos refugioensis

Watershed Environmental is a small, innovative environmental consulting firm. Founded in 1997, it was one of the first modern companies of its kind to come on the scene in Central California. Since then, we have become widely recognized as a top-quality resource for land managers, local government agencies, private property owners, nonprofit organizations, holding companies, and anyone who needs to navigate the complex, seemingly impenetrable maze of state and federal regulations in order to develop or restore their land.

We’re proud to say that the vast majority of our business comes from past and current client referrals. Virtually all of our work occurs in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura counties. We’re extremely familiar with each county’s general and area plans, zoning ordinances, and initial study assessment guidelines.

What We Do

Watershed specializes in performing and preparing biological resource sections of Environmental Impact Reports. We have two decades of experience in biological assessments, botanical and wildlife surveys, biological mitigation design, habitat restoration and monitoring, wetland delineation, and wetland permitting.

One of the first environmental consulting firms to adopt and master Geographic Information System (GIS) technology, Watershed remains a leader in collecting and providing biological information. GIS is a powerful tool for environmental impact assessment, environmental constraints analysis, mitigation design, biological inventory, and ecological modeling. We routinely use the latest software to perform environmental analysis, understand and map complex spatial patterns, model physical and ecological processes, and prepare maps and figures for the many reports we prepare. Watershed interprets and incorporates AutoCAD engineering plans into its in-house GIS data and obtains county, state, and federal GIS data to enhance the geospatial data we create for our clients.

Our People

Owned and operated by Mark de la Garza, Watershed Environmental, Inc. is located in Santa Barbara, California. Mark has been working as an environmental consultant since 1988, when he graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a BA in Environmental Studies. He returned to UCSB for graduate school, launched Watershed Environmental in 1997, and earned a Masters in Environmental Science and Management in 1998, a member of the first graduating class of the prestigious Bren School.

GIS analyst/cartographer Dominick Burnham, who received a BA (honors) in Geography with a GIS emphasis from UCSB in 2015, does all of Watershed’s GIS work in-house. His responsibilities include compiling previously mapped analog and digital data, building project-specific GIS databases, creating base maps for biological field surveys, inputting the field survey data into the GIS database, generating map statistics (size of areas mapped and potentially impacted), performing constraints analyses, and creating maps and figures for technical reports and pubic presentations.

Download Mark de la Garza's PDF resume.

Download Dominick Burnham’s PDF resume.


Botanical/Wildlife Surveys

Mark de la Garza has been performing botanical and wildlife surveys for common, rare, and state- and federally endangered/threatened species in California for decades. He has wide-ranging and extensive experience with the region’s local flora and fauna, and is considered an expert on local ecotones, habitats, and vegetation types. Mark is a highly regarded professional botanist, biologist, restoration ecologist, and wetland scientist. He routinely performs surveys for rare, threatened, and endangered plants and animals, and delineates state and federal wetlands. He received a fairy shrimp handling license in 2016.

Casa Dorinda trail and new native plantings

Casa Dorinda trail and new native plantings


  • Assesses potential biological impacts to plants, wildlife, and their habitats, and since 1988 has prepared technical reports per the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) according to state and local government guidelines and standards.

  • Works closely with clients to avoid biological impacts when possible via project design. He is known for recommending and designing biological mitigation measures to reduce project impacts to acceptable levels and to ensure project consistency with federal, state, and local biological resource protection statutes, policies, and guidelines.

  • Participates closely in the public environmental review process as an expert professional biologist.

  • Prepares open space management plans. Projects include San Marcos Foothills Preserve’s Santa Barbara County Park; Preserve at San Marcos development in Santa Barbara; Santa Barbara Ranch development in Gaviota; Casa Dorinda retirement residence in Montecito.

  • Prepares habitat restoration/mitigation plans for native grasslands, coastal sage scrub, maritime chaparral, fresh water marsh, and riparian habitats. Projects include the Lagunitas mixed-use development in Carpinteria; the Preserve at San Marcos residential development in Santa Barbara; the 8501 Hollister Avenue habitat restoration/enhancement near Ellwood; the Westmont College Master Plan in Montecito; the Village at Los Carneros residential development in Goleta; the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Master Plan; and a variety of smaller private and public projects.

  • Uses the Manual of California Vegetation (Sawyer/Keeler-Wolf) classification system to identify and map plant communities to the Alliance level.

  • Uses the latest California Natural Diversity Database/BIOS dataset and online tools and reports occurrences of rare plants, animals and natural community stands via the CNDDB field survey form.


Geographic Information System and Cartography

Watershed Environmental is a full-service GIS company. We have many years’ experience building GIS databases and using GIS software to conduct complex geospatial analyses of habitat suitability for sensitive wildlife and botanical resources, watershed analysis, environmental constraints, habitat preservation/conservation modeling, and public trail routing and feasibility. We also use GIS to create maps and figures for the many reports we prepare. After completing surveys and field mapping, we convert the data into digital format and add it to our GIS database using ArcView.


  • Watershed Environmental’s GIS databases are fully compatible with AutoCAD databases and other state- and locally maintained GIS databases. Upon completion of a project, we frequently provide clients with our GIS data and metadata.


Wetland Surveys and Permitting

Mark de la Garza is a professionally trained and experienced wetland delineator and wetland scientist who has worked extensively in a variety of wetland habitat types: saltwater, brackish, and freshwater marshes; riparian scrub, woodland, and forest; and vernal pools, swales, and seeps. He has completed both a 40-hour training course on wetland delineation surveys using the ACOE 1987 Wetland Delineation Manual and the 40-hour advanced hydric soils wetland delineation training course. A longtime member of the Society of Wetland Scientists, Mark completed Mary Belk’s three-day course in the identification of the federally endangered and threatened fairy shrimp, and in 2016 received US Fish and Wildlife Service certification to perform surveys for the species. He has also completed several Wetland Training Institute courses taught by nationally recognized wetland scientists/experts.


Westmont College restoration site

Westmont College restoration site

  • Performs wetland delineation surveys in accordance with the methods and procedures described in ACOE’s Wetland Delineation Manual “Technical Report Y-87-1” (Environmental Laboratory 1987) and the Regional Supplement to the Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineation Manual, Arid West Region “Technical Report ERDC/EL TR-06-16” (Environmental Laboratory 2008).

  • Specialist in obtaining ACOE 404 wetland dredge and fill permits, RWQCB 401 water quality certification permits, and CDFW 1602 Stream and Lakebed Alteration agreements.

  • Permitted projects include the Lagunitas mixed-use development in Carpinteria; the Preserve at San Marcos development in Santa Barbara; the Westmont College Master Plan; the Village at Los Carneros development of Tecolotito Creek Bridge in the City of Goleta; and the San Pedro creek bank stabilization project in Goleta.


Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program

Watershed Environmental is currently engaged in performing mitigation monitoring for several large Santa Barbara County projects. We have decades of experience preparing Environmental Quality Assurance Programs (EQAPs) and open space management plans, as well as providing required documentation (status/progress reports) to local, state, and federal permitting agencies on the implementation of required mitigation measures.


  • We have prepared EQAP documents for the Preserve at San Marcos project and the Westmont Master Plan project, both in Santa Barbara.

  • Watershed has provided mitigation monitoring on the Lagunitas mixed-use development project, the Preserve at San Marcos, Westmont College, and several private residential development projects.


Client References

Project: Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Master Plan

Tasks: Performed wildlife and botanical surveys, and prepared a biological assessment report, evaluated project impacts per CEQA guidelines, and developed biological mitigation measures. We also prepared a habitat restoration/open space management plan.

Client: Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
Contact: Barbara Barker—Project Manager, 2559 Puesta Del Sol, Santa Barbara, CA 93105
(805) 898-2409

Project: San Pedro Creek Bridge Replacement

Tasks: Performed wildlife and botanical surveys, delineated federal- and state-regulated wetlands and waters using the methodology prescribed in the 2008 Regional Supplement to the Corps of Engineers Wetland Delineation Manual: Arid West Region, and prepared a biological assessment/wetland delineation report. Submitted to the County of Santa Barbara Planning and Development Department, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Marine Fisheries Service.

Client: Slippery Rock Ranch, LLC
Contact: Madars Ozolin—Ranch Foreman, 1725 N. La Patera Lane, Goleta, CA 93117
(714) 279-6187

Project: Westmont College Master Plan

Tasks: Prepared a riparian enhancement plan that restores 7.5 acres of degraded coast live oak riparian woodland habitat. The plan describes the site preparation, planting pallet, planting specifications, maintenance activities, monitoring and reporting methods/requirements, long-term and annual goals and objectives, and final success criteria. We obtained Army Corps of Engineers 404, Regional Water Quality Control Board 401, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife 1602 permits.

Client: Westmont College
Contact: Randy Jones—Director of Campus Planning, 955 La Paz Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93108
(805) 565-7048

Agency References

Jackie Campbell: Community Development Director City of Carpinteria, CA 93013 | (805) 684-5405

Kathy Fry: Natural Areas Planner, City of Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation, Box 1990, Santa Barbara, CA 93102 | (805) 897-1976

Claude Garciacelay: Park Planner, County of Santa Barbara Community Services Department, 610 Mission Canyon Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93105 | (805) 568-2469

Jeff Humble: CA Department of Fish and Wildlife, PO Box 1179, Ventura, CA 93002 | (805) 652-1868 Email: Jeff.Humble@Wildlife.ca.gov

John Markham: Project Manager, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Regulatory Division, 2151 Alessandro Drive, Suite 110, Ventura, CA 93001 | (805) 585-2150

Melissa Mooney: Biologist for the County of Santa Barbara, 624 West Foster Road, Santa Maria, CA 93455-3623 | (805) 934-6587

Dominic Roques or Jon Rohrbough: Clean Water Act Section 401 Program Coordinator, Central Coast Water Board, 895 Aerovista Place, Suite 101, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 | (805) 542-4780

805.876.5004 | 3324 State Street, Suite B, Santa Barbara, CA93015