Solid planning saves time, money, and resources and leads to a successful project—whether it’s a watershed, a region, or an easement.

Our team of biologists, scientists, planners, and designers craft effective solutions to complex resource issues by balancing use with conservation. We put our technical proficiencies to work for you by gathering and analyzing data, facilitating stakeholder outreach, and navigating through governmental rules and regulations.

Land Planning & Master Planning

Place is deeply important to the human spirit. Whether it’s in an urban or rural setting, a residential, commercial, or recreational project, our award-winning team can help you realize your land development vision. We guide our clients through the decision-making process, help secure entitlements, and turn site constraints into amenities. Through low impact development (LID) techniques, we design livable and walkable communities that fit within your site’s unique context.

  • Due Diligence & Feasibility Studies
  • Zoning & Ordinance Compliance
  • Conservation Subdivision Design
  • Low Impact Development
  • Mixed Use / Infill Development

See examples of land planning and master planning.

Planning for Due Diligence

Before you invest in a piece of land, make sure a proper investigation is performed before you buy the property. Our team has first hand experience with the process as we are also landowners. We advise our clients on all the planning aspects that should be explored during due diligence. We take the worry out of the process because we know all the question to ask on your behalf.

  • Facilitation of the Due Diligence Process
  • Site Assesment of the Property
  • Ordinance Review
  • Environmental Review
  • Conceptual Layout

See examples of our work in planning for due diligence.

Water Resources Planning

Protect, restore, or manage water resources with Equinox. Our team of scientists and planners is intimately familiar with water resource issues of the southern Appalachian region, and excels at identifying watershed improvement needs, carrying out watershed assessments, analyzing field data, and preparing well-written watershed plans. We have a successful track record of facilitating landowner outreach, agency coordination, and grant funding to implement on-the-ground projects. Our partners include non-profit organizations and government agencies, as well as corporations.

  • Watershed Assessments
  • EPA Nine Element Watershed Plans
  • Source Water Protection Plans
  • Comprehensive Stormwater Assessments
  • Flood Hazard Reduction

See examples of our watershed planning.

Environmental Planning

A community without a plan risks its future. Unguided growth can lead to rampant sprawl, damage to natural resources, and stunted economic development. To prevent such fates in the southern Appalachian region, Equinox contributes to collaborative projects that develop long-term guidelines for healthy, sustainable growth—all while maintaining a community’s unique spirit. Our partners view us as the experts in natural resources, cultural heritage, and recreation.

  • Land Use Planning
  • Comprehensive Plans
  • Environmental Planning
  • Cultural & Heritage Resource Planning
  • Economic Resource Benefit Studies

See examples of environmental planning.


Put our policy and permitting knowledge to work on your project. Our experience with the National and State Environmental Policy Acts (NEPA & SEPA), federal and state permitting regulations, and rules protecting rare/threatened/endangered species aids our clients in compliance, avoiding unnecessary cost and delays to their projects. Our multidisciplinary staff makes us uniquely suited for performing categorical exclusion screening, environmental assessments, and environmental impact statements. Because of our knowledge and comfort in all types of field conditions and in facilitating the public input process, Equinox is often the firm of choice for performing environmental site assessments.

  • Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESA)
  • Categorical Exclusions (CE)
  • Environmental Assessments (EA)
  • Environmental Impact Statements (EIS)
  • Brownfield Assessments

See examples of NEPA and SEPA.

Outdoor Recreation Planning

We help our clients capitalize and utilize their cultural and natural assets to build a sustainable outdoor recreation economy. With our extensive experience in recreation design, conservation planning, and natural resource management, we are highly qualified to work in a variety of scales, from culturally and historically significant sites to large scale regional parks and outdoor recreation facilities. Our area of expertise is with nature based outdoor recreation facilities that work with our region’s assets. Past clients have included the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, State Parks, conservation and heritage organizations, municipal government park facilities, and parks owned and operated by non-profits. Learn about our outdoor recreation team.

  • Recreation Master Plans
  • Nature Based Park Design
  • Sports Parks & Complexes
  • Interpretive signage
  • Historic & Cultural Sites
  • Natural Resource Management

See examples of our outdoor recreation planning.

Conservation Planning

An easement is forever, so it’s important to do it right. The origins of our company are based in conservation easement planning; since 1998, we have developed close working relationships with land trusts and other conservation organizations. We guide land-owning families through the essential planning phase, help them to understand financial implications and tax benefits, and facilitate the process with the requisite attorneys, appraisers, surveyors, and real estate professionals.

  • Conservation Easement Evaluations
  • Working Farms & Forests
  • Estate Planning
  • Conservation Easement Facilitation & Development

See a our work with conservation planning.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Sound decisions depend on relevant and accurate data. Our GIS experts perform both small and large scale data analyses, modeling, and mapping projects to help drive the decision-making process—from planning to design and through implementation. From the field to the desktop, our team has access to our extensive database, which contains 14 years of critical western North Carolina and southern Appalachian data, saving our clients both time and expense.

  • Geospatial Analysis
  • Modeling
  • Mapping

See examples of our geographical information systems.

Partnership & Capacity Building

Seeking to improve environmental conditions in your community? Solid partnerships can turn a good idea into a successful project. Equinox helps watershed partnerships, conservation organizations, and loose affiliations to facilitate communications, secure funding, execute public relations strategies, and recruit volunteers—all to get projects built and in the ground. We are also available to oversee entire partner-based projects. Outsource tasks to our strategic planners, grant writers, financial managers, facilitators, and educators to increase your capacity to achieve results.

  • Landowner Outreach
  • Stakeholder Outreach
  • Grant Writing
  • Partnership Development
  • Group Facilitation
  • Strategic Planning

See examples with partnership and capacity building.


"The attention to detail, managerial expertise, responsiveness to taskings, on-the-ground implementation and professionalism working with local landowners, have proven instrumental to the overall success of our initiative."

Michael R. "Squeak" Smith, Chairman, Foothills Conservancy of NC
Muddy Creek Partnership Steering Committee


miles of watersheds planned


conservation projects


regional & land use planning projects


NEPA documents developed

Related Projects

Explore the full range of exciting projects by Equinox.

See them all

Put our expertise to work on your project. Contact us