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54 Chapter Four Conclusions As the world becomes more developed and intact natural approach to areas outside the road right-of-way and to con- resources become more scarce, it will take greater and greater sider ecological resources early in planning is the model commitments to protect ecological resources. Respondents for change in transportation. This paradigm change began to this synthesis' survey gave thoughtful responses to how happening in the past decade as state and federal transpor- state departments of transportation (DOTs) and natural tation departments became more responsible for the world resource agencies are coping with the challenges of protect- outside of the road right-of-way. New ways of doing busi- ing the natural world. The rich diversity of responses from ness, such as Context Sensitive Solutions and the provisions more than 100 survey participants gave a wide spectrum of the 2005 Transportation Act (SAFETEA-LU) Sections of biological and ecological survey needs, and developing 6001 and 6002, are becoming more standard. The dozens approaches to those needs. The major themes of this synthe- of responses to this synthesis' survey are reflective of how sis, as developed from those responses and concurrent litera- those within and outside departments of transportation ture and new initiatives searches are as follows: expect these organizations to operate. An approach to view transportation and the environment in a more holistic man- 1. Transportation planners and their colleagues are ner than traditionally considered will be more common in moving beyond the traditional framework in the con- transportation planning. This expanded vision of responsi- sideration of ecological resources; the 2005 Trans- bility will necessitate more interactions between DOTs and portation Act (SAFTEA-LU) encourages and expects state fish and wildlife agencies. Agencies increasingly will this. Long-range transportation planning will con- need to be more proactive about identifying areas that state, sider ecological resources to a greater degree than in regional, and local organizations have targeted for develop- past actions. ment and those areas that need to be avoided, minimized, or mitigated because they are conservation areas. The current 2. The innovations that assist with the developing broad- initiatives such as Eco-Logical, and the Western Governors' scale approach to transportation planning involve Association Wildlife Corridors are examples of how states new ways of thinking; a paradigm is developing that and regions of the country are coming together to develop encompasses broad biological and landscape scales of an interagency approach to transportation planning, devel- viewing the natural world and years' long time frames opment, and maintenance. These new ways of doing busi- to detect potential impacts and to create solutions. ness will be supported by more standardized Geographic Information Systems data that will be synchronized among 3. These large spatial scale and long-term plans and data layers and across agencies. Technological advances in potential solutions require increasingly higher resolu- survey methods will become better developed and dissemi- tion data. These data increasingly need to be in simi- nated. A promising sign of how ecological survey data will lar formats and easily accessible. be used proactively to help avoid, minimize, or mitigate environmental impacts is the wealth of responses from the Overall, the survey revealed a wide range of needs and survey respondents. The DOT and fish and wildlife agency new approaches that involve cooperative coordination professionals who replied to the survey are doing an admi- among organizations that collect and store data and those rable job at protecting the natural world and finding ways to who need the data, such as DOTs. This is further addressed work together. The general consensus is that it is essential in Appendix B. for these professionals to understand what the ecological resources are before they are gone. Judging from the wealth In summary, the future holds many promising new ways of knowledge and commitment from the survey respon- to gather data, bring them into common GIS formats, and dents concerning the natural world, the United States is improved working relations among agencies. The expanded well on its way to defining how it will protect and restore its responsibility for transportation agencies to broaden their ecological legacies.