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The National Academies

SHRP 2 C06(A) [Completed]

Integration of Conservation, Highway Planning, and Environmental Permitting Using an Outcome-Based Ecosystem Approach

  Project Data
Funds: $700,000
Research Agency: URS Group
Principal Investigator: Marie Venner & Tom Denbow
Effective Date: 9/3/2008
Completion Date: 7/31/2011

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 framework for making decisions about transportation capacity enhancements and the surface environment across key decision points and geographic scales of the collaborative transportation decision making process. This included solving the problem of assurances (for example, how can agencies that invest in ecological-level action to minimize or mitigate impacts or restore resources to the ecosystem be assured that they get credit for their actions with regulatory agencies and the public?) and developing a business model for the ecological approach to environmental stewardship.
 
This research project developed an integrated ecological framework for ecological decision making and conservation planning to address ecological concerns during highway capacity enhancement projects. The framework identifies easily applicable, adaptable steps in a process to secure the key assurances that transportation and regulatory agencies need to proceed with early environmental decision making and conservation investments or other off-site ecological enhancements, early in the transportation planning process. The results of this project and project C06B (Integration of Conservation, Highway Planning, and Environmental Permitting Through development of an Outcome-based Ecosystem-scale Approach and Corresponding Credit System) 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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