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12 Chapter One Introduction Background ations of transportation, such as project schedule, costs, and regulatory requirements. Every year, advances in technolo- During all phases of the transportation planning, devel- gies and knowledge allow for greater sources of information opment, and operations process, environmental data are and the ability to more effectively glean the data from nature needed. Whether the phase of planning involves long-range and databases. Progress in these advances sometimes occurs plans 20 years into the future or day-to-day operations, infor- in different regions of the country or among certain agen- mation related to the environment is needed to prepare envi- cies because of specific pressing needs. Thus, innovative ronmental documents, obtain permits, design and construct approaches can occur without national knowledge of such road improvements, mitigate or avoid impacts, monitor miti- advances. One of the main objectives of this synthesis is to gation, and conduct maintenance activities. The objectives use this opportunity to share those experiences and methods of this synthesis were to survey transportation and natural with others to help meet DOTs' environmental survey needs resource professionals who were familiar with transporta- in effective and efficient manners. tion systems to identify environmental survey needs related to transportation activities and to identify technologies, tech- Ecological surveys are used at all levels of the transporta- niques, and innovative methods to fulfill those needs. These tion planning and operations phases and for different reasons, technologies, techniques, and methods, collectively called yet they have several common attributes. Surveys need to be new approaches, include data collection, its analysis and undertaken at the correct space and time scale for the spe- delivery, how it can be used in planning and operations, and cific data needs. The data need to be available to all agency cooperative working relations in data delivery and analyses. and related organization personnel who are involved in trans- The audience for this synthesis includes transportation pro- portation planning in easy-to-read formats and need to be fessionals responsible for planning, designing, constructing, stored in places that are easily accessible in a timely manner. operating, and maintaining transportation projects and the Finally, useful ecological survey data are gathered in a quan- road corridor in an environmentally and fiscally responsible tifiable manner that allows for their comparison with other manner, as well as professionals in natural resource agen- data over larger spaces and time scales to help with environ- cies and other organizations who work with departments of mental compliance and performance measurements. transportation (DOTs) on these issues. Ecological survey data possess a wide spectrum of attri- State DOTs need data from environmental surveys. Envi- butes. In this report, those differences are partially reconciled ronmental surveys in this synthesis are best described as eco- by organizing ecological survey needs and new approaches logical surveys; they do not consider archeological resources according to when they may be used during the various that are typically organized under environmental surveys. phases of transportation planning: Systems Long-Range Ecology is the study of the interactions of organisms and Planning, Project Development, Construction, and Main- their environment. Surveying specific species' locations or tenance and Operations. Within those phases, the natural other information involves knowing how the animal or plant world is organized first by species and then at broader scale interacts with its environment and understanding what envi- ecosystem and landscape levels. Both levels are presented ronmental factors are important. Surveying a community with survey needs and new approaches. within an ecosystem, such as a wetland, also entails under- standing its relationship with other components of the eco- Data on natural systems are needed at different scales system. Ecological surveys need to convey and review a wide and in different formats according to these transportation spectrum of such information on the natural world that can phases. Ecological survey needs and approaches for the sys- include data ranging from species to climate change. Surveys tems long-range planning typically are those provided in need to be conducted in a timely and cost-effective manner, formats that look at natural system features in broad terms, and need to use up-to-date technologies and methods. Appro- cover large areas, and possess features whose time limits do priate survey design must balance biological considerations, not expire quickly so they can be referenced for years. Data such as the time of year, detectability, migratory movements, in the form of maps, models, tables, and research reports are and life history characteristics, with the operations consider- helpful at these coarser scales in long-range planning.