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11 Using the IEF steps outlined in Table 3.1 and the subsequent sections of this chapter, state departments of transportation (DOTs), MPOs, and resource agencies can work together during transportation/infrastructure planning to identify transportation/infra- structure program needs, potential environmental confl icts, and strategic conservation and restoration priorities in the state, ecoregion, or watershed. Based on identifi ed and agreed-on priorities, partners may choose to develop programmatic approaches that increase regulatory predictability during project development while further achieving regional conservation, restoration, and recovery goals. BROADENING THE TYPES AND USE OF DATA The IEF process requires that all states use data layers to address the regulated re- sources (such as Section 303(d)-listed streams, wetlands, and endangered or threatened species) which currently drive many transportation and infrastructure decisions at the project level. The IEF, however, seeks to integrate these more traditionally regulatory- oriented data sets used in permitting and consultations with nonregulated resources and data (such as important habitats, climate impacts, and other at-risk species). A broader set of data that is developed and used at a regional scale can Inform early stages of planning and foster improved resource planning and effectiveness, Achieve desired environmental outcomes, Help avoid additional species listings or expansion of Clean Water Act regula- tions, and Maintain better ecological integrity and build broader stakeholder support. 3 OVERVIEW OF THE IEF PROCESS
12 MANAGERâS GUIDE TO THE INTEGRATED ECOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK LEVERAGING EXISTING RESOURCES Partners should draw on existing resources, such as the following: State wildlife action plans (SWAPs) nationwide, Crucial Habitat Assessment Tools (CHATs) in western states, other regional or state conservation strategies; Existing state, regional, or local watershed plans; State Natural Heritage Program conservation sites and priorities; Environmental organization conservation strategies, plans, and priorities; Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Rapid Ecoregional Assessments in western states; and The Eastern Interconnection Statesâ Planning Council Energy Zone Mapping Tool (EISPC EZ Mapping Tool) in the eastern 39 states supporting energy planning for the Eastern Transmission Interconnection. Also note that a national screening tool is under development to help implement the IEF by providing uniform access to integrated geospatial and ecological data por- tals and basic analytical functions. The tool is being built with TRB funding under the TRB SHRP 2 C40 contract (http://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay. asp?ProjectID=3336). The SHRP 2 C40 project also funded two pilots to test the tool in transportation planning and analysis. STEPS OF THE IEF A summary of each step of the IEF is noted in Table 3.1. Step Purpose Step 1: Build and strengthen collaborative partnerships and vision Build support among relevant stakeholders to achieve a statewide or regional vision and planning process that integrates conservation and transportation/ infrastructure planning. Step 2: Create a Regional Ecosystem Framework (REF) Develop an overall environmental conservation strategy that integrates conservation priorities, data, and plansâ with input from and adoption by all conservation and natural resource stakeholders identified in Step 1âthat addresses the species, habitats, and relevant environmental issues and regulatory requirements agreed on by the stakeholders. (continued) TABLE 3.1. SUMMARY OF EACH STEP OF THE IEF
13 MANAGERâS GUIDE TO THE INTEGRATED ECOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK Step Purpose Step 3: Define transportation and infrastructure scenarios for assessment Integrate existing, proposed, and forecasted development, transportation/infrastructure, andâ optionallyâother plans into one or more scenarios to assess cumulative effects on resources. Step 4: Create a Regional Ecosystem and Infrastructure Development Framework (REIDF) Integrate environmental conservation (REF) and transportation/infrastructure data and plans to support creation of a Regional Ecosystem and Infrastructure Development Framework (REIDF). Assess effects of transportation/infrastructure on natural resource objectives. Identify preferred scenarios that meet both transportation/infrastructure and conservation goals by using the REIDF and predictive models of priority resources to analyze transportation/infrastructure scenarios in relation to resource conservation objectives and priorities. Step 5: Establish and prioritize ecological actions Establish mitigation and conservation priorities and rank action opportunities using assessment results from Steps 3 and 4. Step 6: Develop crediting strategy Develop a consistent strategy and metrics to measure ecological impacts, restoration benefits, and long-term performance for all projects to promote progressive restoration and mitigation, and more accurate accounting of results. Step 7: Develop programmatic consultation, biological opinion, or permit Take advantage of identified regional conservation and restoration objectives to develop memoranda of understanding (MOUs), programmatic agreements (CWA Section 404 permits or ESA Section 7 consultations), or other CWA agreements for transportation/infrastructure projects in a way that documents the goals and priorities identified in Step 6 and the parameters for achieving these goals. Step 8: Deliver conservation and transportation projects Design transportation/infrastructure projects in accordance with ecological objectives and goals identified in previous steps (i.e., keep planning decisions linked to project decisions), incorporating as appropriate programmatic agreements, performance measures, and ecological metric tools to improve the project. Step 9: Update the Regional Ecosystem Framework, scenarios, and regional assessment Maintain a current REF that reflects the most recent distribution and knowledge of natural resources, conservation priorities, and mitigation opportunity areas that can support periodic updates to scenarios, and regional cumulative effects assessments. TABLE 3.1. SUMMARY OF EACH STEP OF THE IEF (continued)
14 MANAGERâS GUIDE TO THE INTEGRATED ECOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK The following sections summarize the nine major steps in the IEF process. Note that there have been some minor but important modifications to some of the steps presented here since the original TRB publication. Each step is presented as a discrete task to facilitate different starting points (or on-ramps). Step 1: Build and Strengthen Collaborative Partnerships and Vision Purpose Build support among relevant stakeholders to achieve a statewide or regional vision and planning process that integrates conservation and transportation/infrastructure planning. Implementation â¢ 1a. Identify the preliminary planning region (e.g., watersheds, ecoregions, political boundaries). The boundary may be influenced by environmental factors such as water quality needs or Section 303(d) listings, speciesâ needs, watershed restora- tion needs, or rare wetlands. â¢ 1b. Identify counterparts and build relationships among agencies, including local government and conservation NGOs (stakeholders). This substep will be iterative with Substep 1a because the boundary will influence the choice of stakeholders and vice versa. â¢ 1c. Convene the partnership, share aspirations, define and develop commonalities. Build an understanding of the benefits of the IEF planning approach and develop a shared vision of regional goals for transportation, land use, restoration, recovery, and conservation. â¢ An understanding of each stakeholderâs goals, priorities, processes, and major areas of concern within a specified planning region. â¢ Documentation of significant issues that may affect agency goals and mitigation needs. â¢ A shared regional planning vision. â¢ Formal agreements on roles, responsibilities, processes, and timelines that establish or reinforce partnerships. â¢ Documented criteria and opportunities for using programmatic consultation approaches to better address transportation and conservation planning needs. â¢ Identification of initial funding options. Step 1: Outcomes
15 MANAGERâS GUIDE TO THE INTEGRATED ECOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK â¢ 1d. Record ideas and develop an MOU on potential new processes for increasing conservation, efficiency, and predictability through collaborative planning. â¢ 1e. Explore initial funding and long-term management options to support conser- vation and restoration actions. This substep could focus on a near-term, existing issue that must be resolved. Step 2: Create a Regional Ecosystem Framework Purpose Develop an overall environmental conservation strategy that integrates conservation pri- orities, data, and plansâwith input from and adoption by all conservation and natural resource stakeholders identified in Step 1âthat addresses species, habitats, and relevant environmental issues and regulatory requirements agreed on by the stakeholders. Implementation â¢ 2a. Identify the spatial data needed to create an understanding of current (base- line) conditions that are by-products of past actions and allow you to consider potential impacts from future actions. â¢ 2b. Prioritize the specific list of ecological resources and issues that should be ad- dressed in the REF or other assessments and planning. â¢ 2c. Develop the necessary agreements from agencies and NGOs to provide plans and data that agencies can use in their own decision-making processes. Agree- ments should allow data to be used to avoid, minimize, and advance mitigation, especially for CWA Section 404 and ESA Section 7. â¢ 2d. Identify important data gaps and how they will be addressed in the combined conservation-restoration plan. Reach consensus on an efficient process for filling any remaining gaps, both in the short term for immediate applications and for longer-term improvements. â¢ Compilation of existing available data and plans into a refined map that identifies loca- tions of all resources of interest and areas for conservation and mitigation action. â¢ An understanding of historical/long-term trends, priorities, and concerns related to aquatic and terrestrial species and habitats in the region. â¢ Identification of any gaps in data that need to be addressed to achieve a complete and reliable product at the appropriate level of resolution and accuracy. â¢ An agreed-on set of conservation and mitigation goals. â¢ Commitments and schedule for delivery of data and actions to fill data gaps. Step 2: Outcomes
16 MANAGERâS GUIDE TO THE INTEGRATED ECOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK â¢ 2e. Delineate priority areas for conservation and mitigation, if these do not already exist. These should include all of the identified resources and follow principles from systematic conservation planning and should include opportunities for off- site mitigation through restoring habitat. â¢ 2f. Convene a team of stakeholders to review the draft REF generated from the preceding steps. Identify any issues that need correction, and finalize the REF. â¢ 2g. Document the REF objectives, decisions, and methods based on stakeholder input and the technical and scientific methods used in Substeps 2aâ2f. Document formats should be suitable for GIS metadata, formal reporting, and outreach to support use, updating, and external products. â¢ 2h. Distribute the combined map of conservation and restoration priorities (the REF) to stakeholders for adoption. Develop and provide a suitable method and online portal for accessing the products that respects any data security and use- limitation agreements. Prerequisites to Conducting Step 2 Although some of Step 2 can be done before or at the same time as Step 1, it is impor- tant to identify a strong stakeholders group for a planning region and to have a vision and goals to â¢ Secure stakeholder buy-in on the REF and its appropriate applications; â¢ Identify the range of resource and other values that must be included in the REF; and â¢ Identify data sources and authoritative expertise for the components of the REF. Step 3: Define Transportation and Infrastructure Scenarios for Assessment Purpose Integrate existing, proposed, and forecasted development, transportation, andâ optionallyâother plans into one or more scenarios to assess cumulative effects on resources. â¢ Mapped scenarios that address current and future time frames and include all features and stressors that do or may affect natural resources. â¢ A shared understanding of the current and planned/proposed locations, quantities, and patterns of all development, uses, and resource stressors in the region. Step 3: Outcomes
17 MANAGERâS GUIDE TO THE INTEGRATED ECOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK Implementation â¢ 3a. Convene stakeholders and identify appropriate scenarios to represent. Formal scenario-based planning approaches can be very useful for envisioning, describ- ing, and prioritizing scenarios for assessment. This step should include what time frames to represent (e.g., current, 15 years, 50 years), the scope of information included in the scenarios (i.e., transportation only or in combination with all rel- evant uses and stressors), and what future assumptions to incorporate and repre- sent in alternate scenarios (e.g., low versus high growth, climate change, transpor- tation funding). â¢ 3b. Obtain data to represent the land uses, activities, and other features for each scenario. Specific to transportation, include the long-range transportation plan, Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), or State Transportation Improve- ment Plan (STIP) and preferably the full set of land use and management plans from the major local, state, and federal regulatory, land management, and plan- ning agencies in the region. â¢ 3c. Assemble the draft scenarios and review them with the stakeholders. Note and make corrections as needed. â¢ 3d. Provide the scenarios to the stakeholders. Prerequisites to Conducting Step 3 There are none. However, it will be informative to know which natural resources (Steps 1 and 2) will be included in the REF to ensure the relevant stressors are integrated in the scenarios. Having a convened group of stakeholders to inform the implementation steps will also provide a more useful and accepted product. Step 4: Create a Regional Ecosystem and Infrastructure Development Framework Purpose Integrate environmental conservation (REF) and transportation/infrastructure data and plans to support creation of a Regional Ecosystem and Infrastructure Develop- ment Framework (REIDF). Assess effects of transportation/infrastructure on natural resource objectives. Identify preferred scenarios that meet both transportation/infra- structure and conservation goals by using the REIDF and predictive models of prior- ity resources to analyze transportation/infrastructure scenarios in relation to resource conservation objectives and priorities.
18 MANAGERâS GUIDE TO THE INTEGRATED ECOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK Implementation â¢ 4a. Work collaboratively with stakeholders to weight the relative importance of resources as needed to help establish the significance of impacts and importance for mitigating actions. â¢ 4b. Establish individual resource conservation requirements (e.g., minimum viable habitat sizes, connectivity requirements) and their response to different types of transportation improvements and other stressors. â¢ 4c. Create the REIDF by combining the REF (from Step 2) with the scenarios from Step 3 to identify which priority areas or resources would be affected and the na- ture of the effect (e.g., negative, neutral, beneficial) and to quantify the effect, not- ing the level of precision of mapping inputs. A visual overlay of the scenarios with the REF can point to particular problem areas, while a quantitative assessment of cumulative effects facilitates better comparison among scenarios and quantifies mitigation needs. It can also identify potential performance measures. â¢ 4d. Compare scenarios, and select the one that optimizes transportation/infra- structure objectives and minimizes adverse environmental impacts (the least dam- aging scenario), or use the results to create a new scenario. â¢ 4e. Identify mitigation needs for impacts that are unavoidable; that may require minimization through project design, implementation, and/or maintenance; and that may require off-site mitigation. For impacts that do not appear practicable to mitigate in-kind, review with appropriate resource agency partners the feasibility of mitigating out-of-kind (e.g., by helping secure a very high-priority conservation area supporting other resource objectives). Prerequisites to Conducting Step 4 â¢ The REF (Step 2) or some comprehensive spatial database of the location of high- priority resources that must be assessed; and â¢ Step 3 or spatially explicit transportation/infrastructure data intersected with nat- ural resource data for the plan or project area to be assessed. â¢ Regional-scale picture of potential and cumulative impacts on natural resources in the region based on transportation scenarios developed in Step 3. â¢ Agreement on preferences regarding avoidance, minimization, potential conserva- tion, and restoration investments to support selection of the best transportation plan scenario. â¢ Identified and quantified mitigation needs. Step 4: Outcomes
19 MANAGERâS GUIDE TO THE INTEGRATED ECOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK Step 5: Establish and Prioritize Ecological Actions Purpose Establish mitigation and conservation priorities and rank action opportunities using assessment results from Steps 3 and 4. Implementation â¢ 5a. Using results from Step 4, identify areas in the REF planning region that can provide the quantities and quality of mitigation needed to address impacts from the cumulative effects assessment, and develop protocols for ranking mitigation opportunities. Ranking should be based on the siteâs ability to meet mitigation targets along with (a) the anticipated contributions to cumulative effects, (b) the presence in priority conservation/restoration areas of the REF, (c) the ability to contribute to long-term ecological goals, (d) the likelihood of viability in the re- gional context, (e) cost, and (f) other criteria determined by the stakeholders. â¢ 5b. Select potential mitigation areas according to the ranking protocols described in Substep 5a. Create a new scenario (repeat Step 3), specifying the mitigation ac- tions for selected sites, and reevaluate the mitigation scenario (repeat Step 4) to validate that the expected mitigation benefits can be achieved. The development of a comprehensive REF in collaboration with regulatory agencies should expedite this step since the priority mitigation areas would already be designated by these agencies, reducing the time it takes to select and move forward on mitigation ef- forts that are more likely to contribute to high-priority conservation needs. â¢ 5c. Field validate the presence and condition of target resources at the mitiga- tion sites, and reassess the ability of sites to provide necessary mitigation. Revise the mitigation assessment, as needed, to identify a validated set of locations to provide mitigation. Compare feasibility and cost of conservation and restoration Develop and agree on the following: â¢ A regional conservation, restoration, recovery, and mitigation strategy, with quantitative and qualitative valuation of mitigation sites. â¢ The preferred conservation/mitigation actions to achieve the priorities. â¢ Strategies and actions that consider regulatory requirements and programmatic imple- mentation opportunities. â¢ Crediting opportunities (see Step 6). â¢ A lead agency or agencies for each strategy and method for achieving each strategy. Step 5: Outcomes
20 MANAGERâS GUIDE TO THE INTEGRATED ECOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK opportunities with ranking score (as described in Substep 5a) and context of conser- vation actions of other federal, state, local, and NGO programs to determine overall benefit and effectiveness. Predictive species modeling can target areas for the field vali- dation process. â¢ 5d. Develop/refine a regional conservation and mitigation plan and strategy to achieve ecoregional conservation and restoration goals, and advance infrastruc- ture projects. This step should address the timing of actions related to when im- pacts are expected to occur and the urgency to secure mitigation sites before they are developed or used for other mitigation actions. â¢ 5e. Obtain stakeholder agreement on mitigation implementation actions. Prerequisites to Conducting Step 5 Step 4 cumulative effects assessment and its prerequisites should be completed before beginning Step 5. Step 6: Develop Crediting Strategy Purpose Develop a consistent strategy and metrics to measure ecological impacts, restoration benefits, and long-term performance for all projects to promote progressive restora- tion and mitigation, and more accurate accounting of results. â¢ Improved and integrated mitigation sequence at a site level, setting the stage for com- pensation through outcome-based performance standards. â¢ Supported implementation tools such as advanced mitigation banks, programmatic permitting, and ESA Section 7 consultation. â¢ Supported use of off-site mitigation and out-of-kind mitigation as appropriate, since equivalency of value can be determined across locations and resources. â¢ Informed adaptive management and updates of the cumulative effects analyses. â¢ Measured gains and losses of ecological functions, and benefits and values associated with categories of transportation improvements or specific project-related impacts. â¢ Characterized project mitigation benefits related to currently unregulated services, such as carbon storage or late-season water provision. â¢ Was a means to track progress toward regional ecosystem goals and objectives. Step 6: Outcomes
21 MANAGERâS GUIDE TO THE INTEGRATED ECOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK Implementation â¢ 6a. Diagnose the measurement need. Define which ecosystem services need to be measured or which could be beneficial and straightforward to measure. Ex- amine the regulated ecological services potentially affected by transportation/ infrastructure projects in the watershed or REF area, as well as the services pro- vided by nonregulated ecological resources identified in the REF. â¢ 6b. Identify ecosystem crediting protocols developed within the region and evalu- ate their applicability to resources identified as priority within the REF. â¢ 6c. Select or develop units and rules for crediting. If there are existing functional or conditional assessment protocols available, they can be useful for consistent measurement of ecological functions or services. They are also used in the estab- lishment of mitigation or conservation banks, and can be used to define outcome- based performance standards. When these assessment protocols do not exist, pro- tocols for the most similar landscapes and ecosystems may potentially be adapted. If assessment protocols are available, Substep 6d can be skipped. â¢ 6d. Test applicability of functional or conditional assessment methods for local conditions if new rules or methods for service measurement or crediting are devel- oped (or adapted from other regions). This includes a review of the rules by the primary regulatory agencies along with other important stakeholders. â¢ 6e. Evaluate local market opportunities for ecosystem services. Currently, non- regulatory markets are limited; but carbon and other markets may be available soon, and this can provide opportunities for more effective mitigation banks. â¢ 6f. Negotiate regulatory assurances to grant credits and long-term agreements, after determining regulators have this capacity. If information in the IEF and the overall mitigation plan sufficiently demonstrates that the critical regulatory ele- ments are properly addressed and are being used to drive regional and watershed priorities, then it is possible for DOTs and MPOs to integrate regulatory assur- ances into their crediting system. Prerequisites to Conducting Step 6 â¢ Regional mitigation strategies and other outcomes from Step 5 can significantly reduce the time and effort involved in Step 6. â¢ Many states include ecological function- and service-based biological inventory methodology in their regulatory framework (such as Rapid Wetland Assessment Protocols), which has been developed to measure ecological functions and ser- vices. When these types of methods are adopted by the regulatory agencies, it can provide a critical head start to implementing Step 6.
22 MANAGERâS GUIDE TO THE INTEGRATED ECOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK Step 7: Develop Programmatic Consultation, Biological Opinion, or Permit Purpose Take advantage of identified regional conservation and restoration objectives to de- velop MOUs, programmatic agreements (e.g., CWA Section 404 permits or ESA Sec- tion 7 consultations), or other CWA agreements for transportation/infrastructure projects in a way that documents the goals and priorities identified in Step 6 and the parameters for achieving these goals. Implementation â¢ 7a. Identify actions to programmatically benefit regulated resources, and ensure agreements related to avoidance and minimization of impacts to regulated re- sources are documented. â¢ 7b. Plan for long-term management and make arrangements with land manage- ment agencies/organizations (e.g., land trusts or bankers) for permanent protec- tion of conservation and restoration parcels. Notify and coordinate with local governments for supportive action. â¢ 7c. Design performance measures for transportation/infrastructure projects that will be practical for long-term adaptive management, and include these in any ESA Section 7 biological assessment or biological opinion. While the Clean Water Act (particularly related to Sections 303 and 404) has not historically included performance measures, they have been successfully used in some programmatic agreements and should be evaluated. â¢ 7d. Choose a monitoring strategy for mitigation sites, based on Substeps 7a, 7b, and 7c, ideally using the same metrics as those used for impact assessment, site selection, and credit development. â¢ Agreement on resource management roles and methods. â¢ Outcome-based performance standards incorporated within programmatic agreements. â¢ Programmatic ESA Section 7 consultation, special area management plan (SAMP) for wetlands, regional general permit (RGP), or agreements that enable agencies to pro- ceed with conservation or restoration action in line with CWA Section 404 and ESA program objectives/requirements and with maximum assurance that investments count and will be sufficient. Step 7: Outcomes
23 MANAGERâS GUIDE TO THE INTEGRATED ECOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK â¢ 7e. Develop programmatic ESA Section 7 consultation, special area management plan (SAMP), Section 404 regional general permits (RGPs), or other program- matic agreements to advance conservation action in line with CWA Section 404 and ESA program objectives/requirements and with maximum assurance that con- servation/restoration investments by DOTs will count. â¢ 7f. Set up periodic follow-up meetings with stakeholders to identify what is work- ing well, what could be improved. Prerequisites to Conducting Step 7 Development of a REF, at least for resources under federal regulation, is a prerequisite to Step 7. Step 8: Deliver Conservation and Transportation Projects Purpose Design transportation/infrastructure projects in accordance with ecological objectives and goals identified in previous steps (i.e., keeping planning decisions linked to project decisions), incorporating as appropriate programmatic agreements, performance mea- sures and ecological metric tools to improve the project. Implementation â¢ 8a. Design/implement methods to complete transportation/infrastructure project(s) consistent with the mitigation scenario, conservation/restoration strategy, and agreements. â¢ 8b. Identify how advance mitigation/conservation will be funded, if this has not been done already. â¢ 8c. As needed, develop additional project-specific, outcome-based performance standards related to impact avoidance and minimization, to ensure full credit for conservation action. â¢ 8d. Minimize unavoidable impacts to resources in the final design of transporta- tion/infrastructure projects, using conservation and transportation/infrastructure â¢ Continuity from early planning processes into project implementation phase. â¢ Tools and approaches incorporated into a monitoring and adaptive management strategy. â¢ Accurate recordkeeping and tracking of all commitments by transportation agency in project delivery. Step 8: Outcomes
24 MANAGERâS GUIDE TO THE INTEGRATED ECOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK design experts, and tracking via performance measures (e.g., acres of habitat or wetlands). â¢ 8e. Use adaptive management to ensure maximum long-term benefit of conser- vation investment and compliance with requirements and intent of performance metrics. Prerequisites to Conducting Step 8 Although some aspects of Step 8 are currently conducted outside of the regulatory compliance process, using the information and objectives of the IEF would ensure better transportation and conservation results and would therefore require performing Steps 2â7 of the IEF. Step 9: Update the Regional Ecosystem Framework, Scenarios, and Regional Assessment Purpose Maintain a current REF that reflects the most recent distribution and knowledge of natural resources, conservation priorities, and mitigation opportunity areas that can support periodic updates to scenarios, and regional cumulative effects assessments. Implementation â¢ 9a. Integrate any new or revised conservation plans into the REF, and as appropri- ate, update spatial information on individual natural resources. â¢ 9b. Update the conservation area/resource requirements, responses, and indicators in response to new research and data and the results of management actions and performance measures (e.g., assess regional goals, update to minimum required area for species and/or habitat, review weighting values of resources in REF, and evaluate responses to stressors). â¢ 9c. Update the implementation and performance status of mitigation areas (conser- vation/restoration investments that have occurred) in the REF to evaluate whether those areas are contributing to REF goals and priorities. This will identify whether a mitigation area should be recategorized as an established conservation area for specific resources or if it is still available for future mitigation action. â¢ A current REF consistent with best available data and expert knowledge. Step 9: Outcomes
25 MANAGERâS GUIDE TO THE INTEGRATED ECOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK â¢ 9d. Update the scenarios and the regional cumulative effects analysis with new infrastructure or ecological developments and/or disturbances, proposals, and trends (e.g., ecosystem-altering wildfire, new policies, plans, proposals, and trends, such as new sea-level-rise inundation models). â¢ 9e. Conduct regular review of progress, including effectiveness at meeting goals and objectives, current take totals, and likelihood of exceeding programmatic take allowance. Prerequisites to Conducting Step 9 â¢ An existing REF (Step 2); and â¢ New information on resource distribution (update to Step 2), expert knowledge about resource conservation requirements and response to stressors (update to Step 4). ON-RAMPS: APPLYING THE IEF TO CURRENT TRANSPORTATION ACTIVITIES For transportation/infrastructure activities that are already in process, there are nu- merous points of entry into the IEF process: â¢ Prioritizing projects for the TIP. When evaluating projects in the Transportation Improvement Program, the impacts and the overall benefits that may be achieved can be considered to understand and prioritize which projects offer the most ben- efits and fewest impacts, environmentally. This on-ramp would act as Step 3 of the IEF; conducting Steps 2 and 4 (even if in a rudimentary way) would provide the assessment necessary to contribute to the TIP prioritization process. â¢ Corridor plans. When a corridor is considered for a transportation route, every- thing that could be affected inside and along the right-of-way is analyzed. Exami- nation of the larger context, using the REF, allows visualization of the entire range of species and resources and the potential impacts to them across the region or state, and reveals where agencies can act jointly to contribute to existing conserva- tion and restoration priorities. Thus a corridor analysis could be an on-ramp to Step 4, assuming that a REF (Step 2) or partial REF is already in place. â¢ Transportation project review. Like TIP prioritization, this on-ramp provides a scenario, in the form of a project to assess. Therefore, IEF Steps 2 and 4 would provide the information for project review. If necessary, these steps could be lim- ited in scope to the area around the project (versus regionwide) for time efficiency. â¢ Mitigating a project under way. Project mitigation requires an understanding of what impacts are expected or documented and what opportunities exist for mitigation. This requires IEF Step 2 in some form. If impacts are already docu- mented, Step 4 may not be necessary (to quantify impacts)âalthough understand- ing the ramifications of those impacts in a regional context and against regional
26 MANAGERâS GUIDE TO THE INTEGRATED ECOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK conservation goals would help prioritize and direct mitigation actions to ensure these funds are spent to achieve the greatest benefit. The focus of Step 2 is iden- tifying areas of mitigation investment that can be linked to project impacts and are recognized high priorities that are contributing to larger conservation goals. For example, if project impacts are primarily on wetlands, Step 2 could focus on identifying areas of the same wetland or a more significant area (preferably within the project watershed) where mitigation would result in the conservation or resto- ration of a large, intact, high-quality wetland community.