Staff Responsibility: Stephen J. Andrle and Ralph Hessian
The Rogue Valley, Jackson County, southern Oregon is experiencing growing pains all too common in the western United States. The valley’s population has increased by 40% in the last 20 years, and is expected to grow by another 30% by 2030 (OEA 2004; Jackson County 2007; U.S. Census Bureau 2012). Space is limited by surrounding mountains, so urban growth occurs at the expense of fertile agricultural lands, salmon stream floodplains, wetlands, and oak woodlands. Transportation projects have struggled to keep up with development projects. Special habitats (such wetlands) and species of concern have added regulatory layers. A lack of easily accessible environmental information makes it more difficult for transportation planning agencies to plan appropriate projects or future transportation direction.
The objective of this project was to pilot test the first three steps of the nine-step 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). The first three steps of this process result in a regional ecosystem framework (REF), which was defined as an overlay of regional environmental, ecological, and archeological data with planned and existing transportation infrastructure.
The project team convened a stakeholder committee representing diverse public and private sector interests and a technical committee of local resource experts to help create the REF. A data library was created with almost 200 spatially-linked data sets from federal, state, and county agencies; universities; nongovernmental organizations; and individual scientists. Using a program called Corridor Design and ESRI’s ArcMap, the team mapped the valley locations with the highest concentrations of environmental and ecological factors (“nodes”) and corridors between them (“linkages”). The team also overlaid planned and existing transportation structures and archeologically and historically important areas to create the final REF.
During this project, three maps were produced: (1) raster analysis results, (2) ecological nodes and linkages, and (3) conflict and opportunities. The ecological nodes and linkages highlight the location of ecologically and environmentally important areas in the valley. The conflict and opportunities map illustrates where planned transportation projects intersect with these areas, as well as with archeologically and historically important areas.
Status: This project is complete.
Product Availability: The final report, The Rogue Valley Ecological Framework: Mapping Open Space, Ecologically Important Areas, and Ecological Corridors for Transportation Planners, Agencies, Municipalities, Developers, Conservation NGOs, and Citizens, is available at http://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/169561.aspx. The Integrated Ecological Framework is currently available on the TCAPP website: www.transportationforcommunities.com.