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Copperhead Environmental Consulting

Copperhead Environmental Consulting’s doors were opened for business in 2004 by Mark Gumbert with the expectation of working for himself from a home office while keeping his workload within reason for a single person. Never intending to be an environmental/biological consultant, he focused on what he knew best- bats. It was soon apparent that there was a real need for a company with a strong ethical stance and excellent understanding of the environmental regulations and biological concepts as they applied to endangered species. His specializations became known and Copperhead began being recommended by federal and state regulators, which was noticed by clients and competitors alike.

As the client base grew, so did the staffing and building needs. The plan was to get enough work to keep busy, but Mark was soon being offered too much work for one person. Embracing the idea of an environmental consulting company, Mark vowed to run a different type of consulting firm: one with strong ethical values to do the job right regardless of the monetary value of the project and to be the voice of the resource while working within regulations to develop mitigation processes that allow client projects to be permitted.

With the increase in workload that Copperhead was acquiring, the need for additional qualified personnel was obvious. To date, Copperhead has 19 full-time employees (15 biologists, 3 administrative personnel, and 1 GIS Analyst). All full-time staff have, at a minimum, a Bachelor’s Degree, but many have Master’s degrees, and one has a PhD. In addition to having a well-qualified full-time staff, we provide the opportunity for young biology students (both undergraduates and graduate students) to work alongside professional biologists through our internship program. Copperhead provides seasonal (summer and winter) internships for both US and international students. Some of these interns have become full-time employees. During our peak summer season, we have had up to 20 interns from multiple states across the nation.

In the beginning, Copperhead conducted mostly small projects and was often a sub-contractor to larger ecological or engineering firms. After a couple of years, management decided that Copperhead needed to expand and become a full-service consulting firm, moving away from sub-contracting and toward being the prime contractor. Clients include the U.S. Department of Defense, Kentucky/Tennessee/Ohio/North Carolina Departments of Transportation, and multi-state utility companies. To acquire and maintain this client base, Copperhead stepped up services (botanical and wetlands) by hiring diversified personnel, expanding our knowledge (through professional development and training), and increasing our exposure to larger clients through expanded marketing efforts. We still serve as sub-contractor on projects, but have begun serving as prime contractors for many large projects.

In addition to growing into a prime contractor position, a strong research component has been maintained. Copperhead is on the cutting edge of endangered bat research and has become known and revered among the biological community for our research branch. Copperhead was the first company to have successfully tracked the complete migration movements of Indiana bats with an airplane. From our work and research, we have provided much needed information for industries such as wind energy facilities, military bases, road projects, and federal and state regulators on the migration ecology of endangered bats. In addition, Copperhead has developed an artificial roost material for bat use when natural habitat is unavailable. This material, BrandenBark™, has been used by endangered bats in Kentucky and Illinois, and has been installed in multiple states for mitigation of habitat loss as a result of natural degradation or human development.

After hiring its first full-time employee in 2005, Copperhead was in need of an office. Mark found a building in downtown Paint Lick, just 10 miles south of Richmond, KY, which was large and affordable. Being located in a small community provided the opportunity to purchase additional space as well as invest in a nearly-forgotten town and make a positive impact on it. Copperhead remains active in the community, participating in road side cleanups and community events on a regular basis. Copperhead also houses the Angels Food Bank and donates two crates of pumpkins to sell as a fundraiser, raising over $500 each year. Copperhead makes a financial donation to the Friends of Paint Lick thrift store yearly and has been heavily involved in disaster recovery efforts during recent flood and winter storm events within the community. In addition, Copperhead donated funds to restore the original painted Coca-Cola sign on the side of one of the historic downtown buildings in an effort to beautify the downtown area. Copperhead maintains a small garden for employees and whoever else might need it within the village of Paint Lick.

Today, Copperhead Properties owns eight properties in Paint Lick, including the Denny House B&B, and rents property to the Paint Lick post office and a photography studio. In addition, Copperhead Properties provides free parking for most of the town including the post office and medical clinic. Currently, there are plans for a restaurant, bicycle repair station, and maybe even a small brewery in the downtown area. In the attempt to revitalize Paint Lick, Copperhead employees successfully convinced the United States Department of Interior to place Paint Lick on the National Register of Historic Places with the hope that the historic determination will allow for Copperhead Properties to take advantage of tax credits for historically renovating the buildings back to their original décor and beauty, as well as position the town to attract visitors and stimulate economic sustainability.

We encourage visitors to stop by the office and see what’s new!