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13 Project-level planning and development-phase ecological Methods of collecting and analyzing environmental data survey needs and new approaches are more specific. They are available at the national, state, and organizational levels. address specific places where plant and wildlife species need For example, a plethora of websites can be accessed at the to be surveyed to determine presence and distribution, refer- national, state, and local levels just concerning geographic ence terrestrial and aquatic linkages for species and process information systems (GIS) data. An exhaustive summary of movement, and identify areas where specific ecosystems these hundreds of methods and websites is not the goal of are located, such as wetlands and sensitive areas locations. this synthesis. Rather, the scope of this report covers specific Species presence can be critical if the species is of special methods, technologies, and websites mentioned by partici- concern; an endangered species' presence may prompt a pants in the survey and Topic Panel members overseeing this shutdown clause, and alternatively if the species is not docu- survey. It is assumed that the combined interests of more mented, a project may continue. than 100 individuals representing 49 states who participated in the survey, along with the NCHRP Topic Panel of experts During the construction phase of transportation planning, who helped guide this study, and the primary investigator's ecological survey needs are typically identified to under- interests were sufficient to give a fair representation of the stand what animals and plants and sensitive communities ecological survey needs and new approaches in the United such as wetlands may be affected by construction activities States. If readers are interested in how and when to con- in a specific area (usually measured in meters). Equipment duct environmental analysis for the transportation planning movements in relation to plant communities, wildlife popu- phases, several sources provide recommendations, includ- lations, and aquatic systems need to be evaluated. ing the FHWA Memorandum, Integration of Planning and the NEPA Processes (Federal Highway Administration In the operations and maintenance phase, wildlife, 2005). Federal, state, and local agencies also have developed plants, ecosystems, and the greater natural processes that checklists and operating manuals of environmental concerns are affected by things as large as climate change need to for early planning. For example, see Florida's Early Rapid be evaluated with respect to daily operations and mainte- Assessment Process in the National Research Council's nance of transportation systems. The ecological survey Committee on Ecological Impacts of Road Density (2005). needs and approaches in this phase typically include evalu- Such checklists are not part of the objective of this report. ating whether wildlife is using transportation infrastructure such as bridges, whether wildlife is using the mitigation created for it, and whether mitigation areas are functioning Organization Of Report as expected; identifying areas where sensitive species of plants are located to avoid mowing, herbicides, and de-icing This synthesis is organized into four chapters, a glossary, impacts; and determining the environmental changes in spe- references, and two appendixes. This first chapter is a basic cies, ecosystems, and processes as a result of climate change. introduction to the synthesis. The needs identified in these different phases are paired with ecological survey needs and new approaches in this manner Chapter two is the main body of the report. It details sur- in this report. vey methods used in this synthesis, the e-mail responses of needs for environmental surveys, innovative new approaches to environmental surveys, and a matrix of these new Objective, Scope, And Audience Of Synthesis approaches. The needs and new approaches are organized in subsections within the results section according to the stages U.S. state DOTs need to collect biological resource data to of transportation planning for which their use would be most assist in transportation planning, development, and opera- appropriate. Within each of these transportation phases, an tions, but those data can be difficult to obtain and process ecological hierarchy was used. Simply put, survey needs for in a timely and cost-effective manner. The objectives of this species, ecosystems, and landscapes were addressed in a synthesis were to survey transportation and natural resource standard manner for each of these phases of transportation professionals who are familiar with transportation systems planning. A species is defined as a group of organisms capa- to identify ecological survey needs related to transporta- ble of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. Other tion activities, and to identify technologies, techniques, species definitions have been used in conservation biology. and methods to fulfill those needs. These new approaches For instance, more precise or different measures can be used, included data collection, data analysis and delivery, the abil- including DNA or appearance similarities, or the geographic ity to use data for planning and operations needs, and coop- range of the species. An ecosystem is a system of interde- erative working relations. The common theme for these new pendent organisms, processes (such as water movement), approaches is that they are being used as acceptable methods and physical factors (such as soil and geologic features). The for data gathering and analyses. actual lines where humans may draw the boundaries of an
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14 ecosystem can be somewhat varied based on what factors presenting a somewhat-disjointed view of a large ecologi- are important. A landscape is an aggregation of ecosystems. cal phenomenon. New ways of conducting transportation It is composed of visible features, such as landforms and business, such as Context Sensitive Solutions and the Eco- water, and is measured in size in miles or kilometers. Figure Logical planning approach, encourage a holistic view of the 1 displays the transportation planning and operations phases natural world, expanding the spatial and temporal scales of and illustrates how these phases run parallel to the ecologi- analyses. This report tries to bring a common thread of simi- cal levels of an organization from which data are needed to lar ecological systems by organizing the information under inform that phase of the process. each section of transportation planning in the same ecologi- cal hierarchy: species, and ecosystems and landscapes. The Systems Long-Range reader should follow the ecological-level survey needs and Planning Species Landscape new approaches across all phases of transportation planning, Plants-- Terrestrial wildlife with an eye toward a holistic approach, which is preferred to Individuals, popula- connectivity, tions, protected, and aquatic systems better understand how everything is connected. The matrix Project Development invasive locations Wildlife-- connectivity, and overall of new approaches is presented in the Summary and at the and Planning Population and individual locations, conservation and development plans end of chapter two. This matrix of new approaches was habitat, use of structures Processes such as water flow created so that users can quickly reference the point in the transportation planning process at which they need informa- Construction Ecosystems tion, and then cross-reference the types of new technologies Wetlands, that address species, ecosystems, landscapes, and processes. sensitive communities, mitigation sites, Those references are fully detailed, referenced, and linked Maintenance and fragmentation, noise and pollution, and to appropriate websites, when available, in References: Lit- Operations climate change erature and Website Review. FIGURE 1 Flow of the transportation planning, development, Chapter three presents eight case studies of innovative and operations process. This flow parallels the natural world technologies, techniques, and strategies used successfully from which these planning phases need to gather data to inform the transportation process of species, ecosystems, and in specific states to address the top ecological survey needs landscapes possibly affected. most often mentioned by respondents in chapter two. Chap- ter four provides a summary and conclusions. The Refer- ences section (References: Literature and Website Review) This synthesis presents needs and new approaches in presents literature, names of initiatives and organizations, a format that follows the transportation planning process. and relevant websites that provide information on innova- This format allows for timely access of information in tive technologies and methods that show promise in new a manner similar to when it is needed. At the same time, approaches for environmental surveys. A glossary of com- this organization breaks up the natural world into conve- mon terms used in this report follows the references. Appen- nient pieces that present a more fragmented view than they dix A is the original survey instrument. Appendix B is a occur. For instance, water flows over watersheds and is summary of new ideas about organizational changes that influenced by the terrestrial ecosystems and activities that invoke ecological surveys that are centered on cooperation. occur there, all varying in time scales longer than human This is a special section that documents dozens of respon- lives and in a three-dimensional manner. Trying to maintain dents' ideas on a developing a new strategy for transpor- and restore aquatic connectivity and quality involves view- tation agencies: thinking and working toward approaches ing the aquatic and terrestrial systems as a working whole beyond the road right-of-way and beyond the current regu- entity, in a holistic manner. To present this complex dynamic latory framework to integrate conservation into transporta- in a structure that fits human planning constraints means tion planning.