This two-phase project began in 1998 when TEAM was called upon to help determine the most appropriate site to build and operate a high-altitude radiotelescope array called the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy (CARMA). Built in the White-Inyo Mountain Range under special use permit with the Inyo National Forest, CARMA consisted of 23 radiotelescopes and was supported by several university research departments.
In evaluating three high-altitude sites for the facility, TEAM biologists, geologists, archaeologists and environmental scientists assisted with California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance and helped determine the best location using natural resource surveys.
TEAM’s work contributed to the successful construction and operation of the CARMA radiotelescope array in the White Mountains for over a decade. CARMA conducted cutting edge scientific research and provided unique learning opportunities for the next generation of instrumentalists and astronomers.
In 2015 the CARMA site lost its funding and again TEAM was called into action, this time to assist with the reclamation and revegetation of the nearby Cedar Flat area. To support the decommissioning, TEAM assisted with a variety of environmental activities, including permitting for relocation/storage of the telescopes with the Inyo County Planning Department, an initial hazardous material inspection and development of recommendations, construction of revegetation test plots and success criteria, and general management of mitigation and restoration activities.
Utilizing an adaptive management strategy for the revegetation plan ensured flexibility and allowed for efficient execution in a timely manner. As a result, the project was completed on time and within expected budget. In 2021, the United States Forest Service determined that the site was successfully revegetated, which will release Caltech from their lease obligations and once again allow public access to the site.