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The National Academies

SHRP 2 C06(B) [Completed]

Integration of Conservation, Highway Planning, and Environmental Permitting Through Development of an Outcome-Based Ecosystem-Scale Approach and Corresponding Credit System

  Project Data
Funds: $1,092,381
Research Agency: Oregon State University
Principal Investigator: Gail Achterman
Effective Date: 10/10/2008
Completion Date: 8/31/2013

Project Snapshot. More details below.

Products
(Project Number)
Impact on Practice
Product Status
Integrating Ecological Mitigation to Enhance Efficiency (C06)
 
The Integrated Ecological Framework (IEF) provides clear, practical steps to enhance integration and support an ecological approach to environmental stewardship. The IEF provides a blueprint for a structured, multi-agency approach, with supporting tools and data.
The long-term benefits of applying the IEF process are better environmental outcomes and lowered costs associated with planning, environmental review, and regulatory decision making. In the short term, the IEF provides practical guidance on selecting and using the most appropriate and effective data, methods, tools, and processes to achieve an integrated, landscape-scale approach to transportation decision making.
 
The IEF process was pilot tested in California, Colorado, Oregon, and West Virginia. Reports from the pilot tests are available on the following page.

The IEF and related tools were integrated into the web-based resource TCAPP, available at www.transportationforcommunities.com.

An Ecological Approach to Integrating Conservation and Highway Planning, Volume 1 is available at http://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/169515.aspx. An Ecological Approach to Integrating Conservation and Highway Planning, Volume 2 is available at http://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/166938.aspx. Guide to the Integrated Ecological Framework is available at http://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/169516.aspx.
 

Staff Responsibility: Stephen J. Andrle
 
Ecosystem approaches to environmental conservation are now widely accepted and increasingly practiced by federal, state, and local resource agencies. From a highway perspective, the Federal Highway Administration document
Eco-Logical: an Ecosystem Approach to Developing Infrastructure Projects provides conceptual groundwork for integrated conservation plans and mitigation activities that transcend individual agency jurisdictional boundaries and encourages an outcome-based ecosystem approach to conservation. However, Eco-Logical stops short of providing the tools to implement the principles. SHRP 2 projects C06A (Integration of Conservation, Highway Planning, and Environmental Permitting 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) are intended to provide the tools needed to implement the ecological approach.
 
The objective of this project was to create an ecological assessment method for highway capacity enhancements that supports the ecological framework and business model being developed in SHRP 2 Project C06A. The method may be a credits system, an index system, or some other scientifically justifiable method.
 
This project used the cumulative effects assessment and alternatives (CEAA) process to create a credit-based framework for assessing the ecological impacts of highway capacity enhancement projects. Using the latest geospatially explicit conservation planning methods, transportation agencies and resource agencies can develop a shared conservation vision for areas likely to be affected by new transportation projects, resulting in a regional ecosystem framework. Within the CEAA process, guidance is provided on methods that can be used to enhance information about resources regulated under the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act to reach early agreement with the resource agencies on which resources need to be avoided to reduce impacts and agree on mitigation priorities. After the framework—including the CEAA and supporting strategies—was developed, the project team pilot tested the framework in Oregon, Michigan, and Colorado to see if the new approach would result in different decisions, outcomes, or time and cost savings when compared to the traditional planning and project delivery system. The results of this project and project C06A (Integration of Conservation, Highway Planning, and Environmental Permitting Using an Outcome-Based Ecosystem Approach) will be pilot tested in projects C21A–D (Pilot Test the C06A&B Approaches to Environmental Protection).
 
Project Status: The project is complete.
 
Product Availability: The framework produced in this project was incorporated into
Transportation for Communities—Advancing Projects through Partnerships (TCAPP). An Ecological Approach to Integrating Conservation and Highway Planning, Volume 1 is available at http://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/169515.aspx. An Ecological Approach to Integrating Conservation and Highway Planning, Volume 2 is available at http://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/166938.aspx. Guide to the Integrated Ecological Framework is available at http://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/169516.aspx.

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