Abstracts: Overview of Federal and International Activities
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Overview of Select Provisions from SAFETEA-LU
Mary E. Gray (Phone: 360-753-9487, Email: email@example.com), Federal Highway
Administration, 711 S. Capitol Way, Suite 501, Olympia, WA 98501, Fax: 360753-9889
The new transportation bill was passed in August 2005. It is a 5-year bill with new environmental provisions that are directly related to the areas of interest addressed at ICOET. Below are quick summaries of the key provisions. Some require regulations and guidance to be prepared by the Federal Highway Administration. Since the bill is still so new, work is still underway to get this guidance out.
Title 1 Subtitle A – Authorization of Programs
- Sec. 1113: Changes the State's Transportation Enhancement set aside to the greater of 10 percent of State STP apportionment or the amount set aside for FY2005. Transportation Enhancements projects which may include reduced vehicle-caused wildlife mortality while maintaining habitat connectivity.
- Sec. 1119:
- Not to exceed $ 10 million per fiscal year. Shall be used for the costs of facilitating the passage of aquatic species beneath roads in the National Forest System.
- Wildlife Vehicle Collision Reduction Study
Title 1 Subtitle D – Highway Safety
- Sec. 1401: The addition or retrofitting of structures or other measures to eliminate or reduce accidents involving vehicles and wildlife (may use safety funds)
Title 1 Subtitle H – Environment
- Sec. 1805: Use of Debris from Demolished Bridges and Overpasses. May involve the beneficial use of debris to construct features such as artificial reefs and other marine habitat creation or ecological restoration work in general.
Title V Research
- Sec. 5201: Exploratory Advanced Research. $14 million per year for 2005-2009 is authorized for an exploratory advanced research program to address longer-term, higher risk research, including environment.
- Sec. 5203: Technology Deployment. Innovative Pavement research and Deployment Program. One of the stated goals of this program is to, under subpart (H), develop designs and materials to reduce stormwater runoff.
Title VI – Transportation Planning and Project Development
- Sec. 6001: Transportation Planning
- Metropolitan Planning – Development of Long Range Statewide Plan must include “a discussion of potential environmental mitigation activities and potential areas to carry out these activities in consultation with Federal, State, and Tribal wildlife, land management, and regulatory agencies.
- Statewide Planning — Development of Long Range Statewide Plan must include “a discussion of potential environmental mitigation activities and potential areas to carry out these activities and potential areas to carry out these.
- Sec. 6002: Efficient Environmental Reviews for Project Decision Making
- Mandates a new environmental process for highway projects advanced with EISs.
- Describes the USDOT's role as lead agency.
- Creates a new category of "participating agencies."
- Bars filing claims for judicial review of a permit, license, or approval by a Federal agency unless it is filed within 180 days after publication of a notice in the Federal Register.
- Authorizes States to assume the Secretary's authority for determining that projects are categorically excluded from requirements for EIS or EA.
- Allows State to assume other environmental review responsibilities of the Secretary on categorically excluded projects.
- Sec. 6006 – Environmental Restoration and Pollution Abatement: Control of Noxious Weeds and Aquatic Noxious Weeds and Establishment of Native Species.
- The first portion (pollution abatement and restoration) extends the existing STP eligibility to the NHS.
- The second portion is a new eligibility item that promotes the detection and eradication of noxious weeds and establishes a preference to the extent practicable for the planting of native plant species.
Reducing Habitat Fragmentation by Roads: A Comparison of Measures and Scales (Organized Oral Session at the INTECOL-ESA 2005 Joint Meeting in Montreal, August 7th to 12th, 2005)
Jochen A.G. Jaeger (Phone: +41 1 632 08 26, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org), Swiss Federal
Institute of Technology ETH, Zurich, Department of Environmental Sciences, Nature and
Landscape Conservation, ETH Zentrum, CHN E 21.1, CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland,
Fax: +41 1 632 13 80
Lenore Fahrig (Phone: 613-520-2600 x3856) Ottawa-Carleton Institute of Biology, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, K1S 5B6, Canada, Fax: (613)520-3539
Wolfgang Haber (Email: email@example.com) TU Munich, D-85356 Freising, Germany
Concern is growing over the fragmentation of habitats by roads and other transportation infrastructure. A number of measures to avoid, minimize, mitigate, or compensate for the detrimental effects of such fragmentation have been suggested.
These are geared to specific scales, from culverts at the scale of a single road to plans for re-connecting habitats across entire countries or continents. They include the removal of roads, building of overpasses and underpasses at roads and railways to increase permeability for animals, restoration or creation of wildlife corridors and networks of wildlife corridors across transportation infrastructure, and the design of less fragmenting road network patterns, e.g., the bundling of traffic lines.
However, it is still unknown which measures are the most effective in terms of restoring ecological processes. The investigation of their effectiveness, therefore, is an important and most urgent task because the most effective measures should be applied predominantly in order to use resources most efficiently.
How can the effectiveness of such measures be evaluated (criteria and methods)? For example, possible criteria for the effectiveness of crossing structures are the reduction of road-kill frequencies, increased passage frequencies, presence of species on both sides of the road, genetic exchange across the road, recovery of lowered reproductive rates and skewed sex ratios, re-colonization success, recovery of skewed foraging intensities among foraging areas on either side of the road, and recovery of skewed predation rates. More generally, the measures should enhance landscape connectivity and restore ecological processes among habitat patches and across landscapes.
During the last three years, considerable progress on measuring the effectiveness of such measures has been made in both Europe and North America. This session brought together the "Father of Road Ecology" Richard Forman with researchers from Europe (Austria, The Netherlands, etc.) and North America working at different scales and in different locations. They presented current methods and results on the success of various mitigation measures to foster cross-scale comparison and synthesis on this topic. The presentation included empirical studies, synthetic overviews, modeling studies, and conceptual studies.
Stewardship on the Horizon: Integrated Planning in the 21st Century
Patricia A. White (Phone: 202-682-9400, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org), Director, Habitat & Highways Campaign, Defenders of Wildlife, 1130 Seventeenth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036, Fax: 202-682-1331
Currently, highway projects are planned, funded, and designed before considering the potential impacts to wildlife and habitat. Often, this can lead to expensive delays, lawsuits, and unnecessary loss of habitat. Streamlining project delivery and reducing unnecessary delays is important to state transportation agencies. By utilizing natural-resource data in early stages of planning, state transportation agencies can avoid, minimize, and mitigate early and avoid costly delays later in the life of their projects.
As part of the federally funded State Wildlife Grants Program, all state fish and wildlife agencies have recently completed comprehensive, wildlife conservation strategies, called State Wildlife Action Plans. These Action Plans will prioritize efforts and maximize investments to protect the state's natural resources. While fish and wildlife agencies are leading the charge, the aim is to create a strategic vision for conserving the state's wildlife–not just a plan for the agency.
Each Action Plan includes eight required elements, including "distribution and abundance of wildlife species" and "descriptions of locations and relative condition of key habitats and community types." Many states produced maps of prioritized habitat throughout the state. Correspondingly, the new transportation bill, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) included provisions that integrate consideration of wildlife conservation into the transportation planning process.
Under the new law, each metropolitan planning organization (MPO) and state department of transportation (DOT) will consult with resource agencies in developing long range transportation plans and compare the transportation plan with conservation maps or natural resource inventories–such as the new State Wildlife Action Plans.
The State Wildlife Action Plans are an opportunity for states to adopt a proactive approach to habitat conservation and an effective tool for transportation planning. For the first time, transportation agencies will have access to comprehensive natural-resource data at the planning stage, rather than waiting until environmental review.
Update IENE and Other New European Actions
Hans Bekker (Phone: +31 (0) 15 2518 470, Email: email@example.com) Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, Directorate General for Public Works and Water Management (Rijkswaterstaat), Road & Hydraulic Engineering Institute, P.O. Box 5044, 2600 GA Delft, The Netherlands
The following contains general information about some important issues concerning habitat fragmentation due to linear infrastructure and measures taken to counteract this phenomenon.
At the International Conference on Ecology and Transportation (ICOET) 2003, I presented an overview of COST 341. This European action, ordered by the European Union (EU), was initiated by the Infra Eco Network of Europe (IENE). The action concluded in November 2003 with a well-attended international conference in Brussels. At this conference, we appreciated it very much that several ICOET representatives attended. As the official chairman of the conference, I gave a piece of the jigsaw to Mary Gray to remind the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to continue with the subject and to use the information.
At the conference, the products of the COST 341 action were presented. These products include the European Review, the handbook, the national state-of-the-art-reports, and the database.
The Handbook of Cost 341 was translated to national versions for several countries. In each version of the handbook, specific, nationally oriented comments and questions were added. This was done in the Czech Republic, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland. In several of the 18 connected countries inside the action, the national working groups still exist as groups of well-informed people concerned about habitat fragmentation due to linear infrastructure.
Also very important is that the network of people at the international level is still vital. When there is a need for information, a second opinion, or advice, a COST 341 colleague is willing to give assistance. This is only possible because there is a network of capable and involved people.
The information gathered in COST 341 was the basis of several contributions at conferences concerning environmental issues in general or habitat fragmentation specifically. At the World Road Association (PIARC) 2003 World Congress in Durban, the results of COST 341 were presented as well. Habitat fragmentation now is included in the work of PIARC in Technical Committee (TC) 2.1, Sustainable development and road transport. I am responsible for the action mitigation of the environmental impact of road transport, one of several actions under this TC. This technical committee sent out a questionnaire to contacts all over the world, and we will hope to have enough feedback to produce some practical recommendations on how to handle fragmentation in our report to the next World Congress in Paris 2007. At conferences in France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Poland this information was given to other people for use in other situations.
Some general developments with big impact in Europe
Previously, there were several EU directives concerning environmental issues around transport. Four of note include: the Habitat and Bird Directive, Soil Directive, Noise Directive, and Air Quality Directive. These directives must be implemented in the national legislation of each country that signed such a directive.
These EU directives have a big influence on policy and legal aspects concerning nature protection and environmental issues along roads and rail lines. For example, the Air Quality Directive, which is already implemented in Dutch legislation, was enforced in this year and caused reconstruction plans to be stopped. A Dutch high court decided that the expected pollution levels would be too high. That means that the reconstruction was postponed until the expected impact has been measurably decreased. This court decision gave an enormous push to the research and measures involving air pollution due to traffic.
Since 2004, there have been 10 new member nations added to the EU. The bilateral contacts intensified rapidly. There is an enormous increase of travel and cargo trade to and from these countries. And with this increasing amount of movement, there is a big need for new motorways and improvement of roads. This urgent need demands knowledge and for a new set of cooperation tools.
These new countries must fulfill the regulations for road-building activities ordered by the EU directives. That is an important reason for several bilateral contacts, projects, and programs to exchange knowledge and information. So at this moment (September 2005), there is a conference in Poland where the 10 new EU countries are discussing the possibilities and tools for environmental impact assessments and strategic environmental assessments.
Some developments in the Netherlands
In the new handbook (Leidraad aunavoorzieningen; see http://www.rwsnatuurenlandschap.nl), there is a lot of information about approaches, procedures, and ideas for defragmentation measures.
The Long-Term Defragmentation Program has been launched and has been accepted by Parliament. In this program three ministries (Agriculture, Nature Protection and Food; Transport, Public Works and Water Management; Spatial Planning and Housing) give their intentions, including work schemes and money to counteract fragmentation due to national infrastructure (motorways, canals, and rail). This program is to solve the problems in the ecological main structure, including the robust zones inside that main structure. The approach in this long-term program is areaoriented, integrated, and based on cooperation between involved parties in the region.