Staff Responsibility: Stephen J. Andrle
Highway 37 in the San Francisco Bay Area is currently the subject of corridor planning by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), District 4.The state of California, federal government agencies, and private organizations have invested millions of dollars in restoring marshlands in the North San Francisco Bay (North Bay). These coastal marshlands are among the most endangered habitat types in the United States and are home to a diverse assemblage of plants and animals, including species listed under state and federal endangered species acts. Highway 37 was built as a conduit between the inland and East Bay area (Richmond, Oakland, Berkeley, and Solano County) and the North Bay communities and counties (Napa, Sonoma, and Marin). It currently serves multiple transportation purposes: goods movement, inter-county commuting, and recreational travel. It also passes through the marshes of the North Bay, separating the marshes from tidal influence and affecting natural flows and processes.
The objective of this project was to pilot test the Integrated Ecological Framework developed in SHRP 2 projects C06A (Integration of Conservation, Highway Planning, and Environmental Permitting Using an Outcome-Based Ecosystem Approach) and C06B (Integration of Conservation, Highway Planning, and Environmental Permitting Through Development of an Outcome-Based Ecosystem-Scale Approach and Corresponding Credit System) on the corridor planning study for Highway 37.
The partners in this project were Caltrans, District 4; the UC Davis Road Ecology Center; the Sonoma Ecology Center; the Sonoma Land Trust; the Southern Sonoma County Resource Conservation District; and the Napa County Resource Conservation District. In addition, more than 100 individuals and organizations met with these partners during seven stakeholder meetings.
This project used the Integrated Ecological Framework as a rubric for organizing information and thinking about decision making. The project relied on three interdependent processes: a stakeholder process to support scenario descriptions and negotiated planning outcomes, a regional context description and assessment, and valuation/crediting approach to support scenario comparison. These processes served as foundational pieces for the development of a stewardship-oriented corridor plan, the first of its kind in California. The lessons learned from this project included issues specific to the C06 and C01 tools, and larger issues regarding the combination of transportation planning and environmental stewardship.