Abstracts: Context Sensitive Solutions: Integrating Community Values with Conservation Objectives
Coming Up Next: ICOET 2007 in Little Rock, AR!
A Case Study in Context-Sensitive Design in Transportation Planning
L. Bert Cossaboon (Phone: 215-592-4200, Email: email@example.com), Vice President, McCormick Taylor, Two Commerce Square, 2001 Market Street, 10th Floor, Philadelphia PA 19103, Fax: 215-592-0682
This abstract examines the use of context-sensitive design on the Blue Ball Properties Project in Wilmington, Delaware. The project addressed existing traffic flow and safety concerns; projected traffic generated by 5,000 new or relocated AstraZeneca employees; recreational needs; historic preservation; storm-water management problems; and community land-use concerns.
Bayview Avenue Extension, Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada Habitat Creation and Wildlife Crossings in a Contentious Environmental Setting: A Case Study (September 2005)
Proponent and Project Funder: York Region Transportation and Works, Regional Municipality of York, Newmarket, Ontario, Canada)
R. Geoffrey Gartshore (Phone: 519-741-8850, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org), Partner/Senior Ecologist, and Michelle Purchase (Phone: 519-741-8850, Email: email@example.com), Landscape Architect, Ecoplans Limited, 72 Victoria Street South, Suite 100, Kitchener, ON N2G 4Y9, Canada, Fax: 519-741-8884; and Robert I. Rook (Phone: 905-823-8500, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org), Manager, and Leslie Scott (Phone: 905-823-8500, Email: email@example.com), Project Manager, Municipal Engineering, McCormick Rankin Corporation, 2655 North Sheridan Way, Mississauga, ON L5K 2P8, Canada, Fax: 905-823-8503
Bayview Avenue is an important north-south arterial road link in the road network of the York Region, Ontario, Canada. The roadway passes through a portion of the Oak Ridges Moraine (ORM), one of Ontario's most significant landforms as recognized through the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act (2001) and Plan (2002).
McCormick Rankin Corporation (MRC) and its subsidiary, Ecoplans Limited, were retained by the proponent, York Region, to plan and design the 4.5-km missing-link Bayview Avenue extension from Stouffville Road north to Bloomington Road. This two-lane rural roadway was planned and designed to support the Region's growth (within the Greater Toronto area) while being sensitive to topography and natural-environmental features. Forest, wetland, and kettle features; Lake St. George Conservation Field Center uses; and wildlife habitat/movements were key resource issues and challenges recognized by the project team throughout the planning, design, and construction work.
Accordingly, an innovative environmental-management and enhancement program was developed and implemented during the project. The objectives were to reduce and mitigate effects on the natural environment, provide habitat creation and wildlife passage, advance the body of environmental research and education, and secure agency approvals.
The wetland-habitat creation project was developed in consultation with Education Centre field staff, and incorporated the following: a) creation of a three-cell experimental wetland complex outdoor "laboratory" located in a cultural meadow and connecting existing natural areas well removed from Bayview Avenue; b) protection of archaeological finds that were integrated in the wetland creation project; c) provision of trail and lookout zones; and d) provision of added habitat diversity in what was a cultural meadow.
The planning and design of the roadway also integrated an amphibian-migration study and detailed literature review on wildlife crossings. In response to this work, recognition of the reported presence of the rare Jefferson Salamander in the area, and the desire to maximize roadway permeability for wildlife, dedicated amphibian tunnels were located and installed under the roadway. In addition, a three-span 81-meter bridge was installed across an open dry ravine to maintain the ORM landscape character and provide a 14-meter vertical clearance for wildlife movement.
The Individual EA for the road project was successfully delivered in 1998 and the design was completed in 2001. The road was opened to traffic in 2002.
Post-construction monitoring at the amphibian tunnels (spring 2003, 2004) and recent observations (2005) have confirmed use by a variety of species including small mammals, Wood Frog, American Toad, Leopard Frog, and Spring Peeper. Use by target salamanders has not yet been confirmed. Challenges encountered include water ponding in some tunnels and some landscape changes from residential development. Outdoor education uses of the created wetland area have been very positive and will likely expand in the future.
In conclusion, the environmental-management program for the roadway was instrumental in securing agency approvals for the project. These efforts were also acknowledged by the naturalist community. The science of wildlife-crossing mitigation has been advanced and some challenges associated with tunnel design and landscape changes have been noted. Further tunnel monitoring has been recommended. Tangible environmental and educational benefits have been realized with the wetland-habitat creation project. The undertaking received the Canadian Consulting Engineers Award of Excellence in 2003.
Connecting Values, Process, and Project Design: Twinning the Trans-Canada Highway in Banff National Park in Canada
Terry McGuire (Phone: 403-292-4707, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org), Director, Western Asset Management Service Center for the West and North Region, Parks Canada, 1300 635 8 Ave S.W. Calgary, Alberta T2P 3M3, Canada; and Sheila Luey (Phone: 403-522-1197, Email: email@example.com), Communications Manager, Parks Canada, Box 213, Lake Louise, Alberta, T0L 1E0, Canada
Extending from coast to coast, the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH) plays an integral role in Canada's social and economic wellbeing. For geographic and historical reasons, 83 of its 7,500 kilometers bisect Banff National Park, Canada's first and most popular park. Part of the UNESCO Canadian Rocky Mountains World Heritage Site and known worldwide for this park's spectacular landscapes and exceptional natural resources, Banff has long been considered a harbinger for the future of other parks and protected areas across the country.
Parks Canada is the federal agency responsible for managing national parks in Canada. Under its mandate, Parks Canada must preserve and protect the ecological integrity of national parks for future generations while fostering public use and appreciation of these areas. And while not truly part of the mandate, major highways that run within and through federal park lands have also fallen to Parks Canada to manage.
Between 1979 and 2005, in response to rising traffic volumes and public safety concerns, 43 of 83 kilometers of the Trans-Canada highway in Banff National Park were converted in phases from two to four lanes. Each of these phases sparked national public interest, the first two in particular becoming flashpoints for the many divergent views about development and conservation in protected areas. These divergent views were not limited to external stakeholders, as highway twinning was seen internally to compete with and divert limited Parks Canada's resources away from direct mandate-related needs. Adding to the complexity of the situation is the unique governance context with Parks Canada as land manager, decision-making authority, and project proponent.
This paper offers a 25-year perspective on Parks Canada's approach to developing context-sensitive solutions; specifically use of a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach for developing a transportation facility that preserves scenic, aesthetic, and environmental resources while maintaining safety and mobility. Through four separate phases of the Trans-Canada Highway Twinning Project, this paper details how the nature and substance of public participation has changed over time and how public input can be reconciled with scientific information, project objectives, a challenging agency mandate, and engineering and financial considerations. Lessons learned in earlier phases have been applied to the most recent phase, resulting in improved stakeholder relationships and satisfaction, as well as leading-edge highway and mitigation design.
Environmental Imperatives and the Engineering Interface: How to Make Hard Decisions
Martin Jalkotzy (Phone: 403-267-6328, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org), Senior Wildlife Ecologist, Golder Associates Calgary AB T2P 3T1 Canada; and Bruce F. Leeson (Phone: 403-292-4438, Email: email@example.com), Parks Canada Agency, Calgary AB T2P 3M3, Canada
Parks Canada has been engaged in upgrading the Trans-Canada Highway in Banff National Park since 1979. A severe wildlife/vehicle collision problem existed and was predicted to worsen unless mitigation measures were employed. Permission to twin the highway from two lanes to four lanes was granted in phases, subject to exceptional environmental protection measures. Forty-five kilometers of highway have been twinned with 2.4-m-high fences and 24 large crossing structures. Parks Canada now is planning a 33-km continuance of the highway twinning project, with a 12-km segment presently under construction. Innovative environmental protection measures, based on the successes of earlier initiatives, are being employed.
The most obvious of these measures have been fences and wildlife crossing structures to safeguard the rich assembly of wildlife resident or transient in the Bow River Valley. Valued ecosystem components include 12 species of large, highly transient Rocky Mountain wildlife, all subject to habitat fragmentation and vehicle collision. The species include protected native fish, Harlequin ducks, and a rich biodiversity in a high profile World Heritage Site. Parks Canada has a legal duty to maintain or restore ecological integrity in such undertakings.
Research, planning, and design have high visibility in the presence of a motivated public who vigorously express divisive viewpoints. This presentation will explain:
- How new designs respond to scientific imperatives
- Science and social lessons learned
- How to manage the confrontation of rhetoric and reality
- How the future looks different than the past
Improving Mobility for Wildlife and People: Transportation Planning for Habitat Connectivity in Washington State
Paul Wagner (Phone: 360-705-7406, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org), Biology Branch Manager, Washington State Department of Transportation, Environmental Services, P.O. Box 47331, Olympia, WA 98504, Fax: 360-705-6833
Washington State's Snoqualmie Pass area supports many native habitat types and provides important linkage for wild lands between the North and South Cascades. The fragmented state of habitats in this area has made it a focal point for efforts by agencies and other organizations concerned with protecting and restoring natural habitats and wildlife populations.
Interstate 90 crosses the Cascade Mountains at Snoqualmie Pass. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is currently developing plans for adding lanes to Interstate 90 east of Snoqualmie Pass between Hyak and Easton. Planning for this transportation project includes consideration of the ecological needs of the area. In addition to transportation objectives, this project design also involves a major emphasis to construct the new roadway so as to improve and restore connectivity for terrestrial and aquatic species through the roadway corridor. This is a true multi-species approach which takes into consideration high- and low-mobility species, mountain terrain and climate, and landscape-level habitat linkages, as well as very localized special habitats.
This effort involves extensive coordination and partnership with state and federal agencies, as well as with environmental groups. Numerous scientific studies and inventories have been conducted in the area to provide a sound foundation and a special planning process specifically for the connectivity elements. Larger structures are planned at stream crossings to not only provide for hydrologic functions and processes, but also to allow for wildlife passage in riparian areas.
Additional upland wildlife crossing structures are planned to allow movement of terrestrial species. Seven emphasis areas, called Connectivity Restoration Areas (CRA's), have been identified in the 13-mile project. These improvements form a comprehensive approach in conjunction with compatible land management by the U.S. Forest Service and land acquisition and protection by environmental organizations. Together, these efforts represent a public investment in the hundreds of millions of dollars and constitute one of the largest restoration efforts of its kind in the country.
This presentation will discuss how the many issues related to habitat connectivity come together in the development of a large and complex transportation project. This involves the process for assessing planning aspects of the project that will improve connectivity for terrestrial and aquatic species hydrologic processes including baseline studies, GIS modeling, multidisciplinary groups for mitigation planning, analysis of connectivity needs for various species groups, and stakeholder coordination.
Future direction for habitat connectivity at the state or regional scale will also be discussed, including new Department Policies relating to connectivity, agency, and stakeholder coordination.
Note: The following posters scheduled for presentation at ICOET 2005 are related to this abstract and project:
- Combining Transportation Improvements and Wildlife Connectivity on Freeway Rebuild in Washington's Cascade Mountains (Charlie Raines, I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition)
- I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East Project: Linking Communities in the Natural and Built Environment (Jason Smith and Randall Giles, Washington State Department of Transportation)
- Landscape Ecology in Transportation Planning (Patricia McQueary, Washington State Department of Transportation)
Integrating Community Values and Fostering Interagency Collaboration Through Outreach with Interactive GIS Models
Mike McCoy (Phone: 530-795-3197, Email: email@example.com), Co-director, Information Center for the Environment, Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California, Davis, Winters, CA 95694; and Candice Steelman (Phone: 209-723-3153, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org), Public Affairs Manager, Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG), Merced, CA 95326, Fax: 209-723-0322
The Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) was chosen by the Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the California Department of Transportation to pilot a new program, Partnership for Integrated Planning (PIP), which aimed to: streamline planning and the project-delivery process; avoid environmental impacts; foster collaboration among planning, transportation, and environmental agencies; and engage the public at the beginning of long-term transportation planning.
Merced County provides a challenging test case through rapid population growth, cultural diversity, high unemployment, and increasing conflicts between stewardship of sensitive habitats and prime farmland and demands for transportation improvements and housing.
The Partnership for Integrated Planning (PIP) included the development of geographic information system (GIS) tools for modeling growth and environmental impacts to produce real-time maps and tables resulting from policy choices at public meetings. PIP engaged all regionally relevant planning, natural resource, and regulatory agencies in data-sharing exercises to integrate data important to each agency into the scenario testing and planning process. Most importantly, the Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG), which is the coordinating partner in PIP, led an extensive outreach program to engage the community in PIP.
To project land-use changes, we adapted UPlan, a rule-based land-use model developed at the University of California at Davis. UPlan incorporates user-controlled policy inputs ranging from general plan map choices, housing densities, and household labor rates to the ranking of environmental amenities. These are combined with user-settable infrastructure growth attractors to distribute population-growth estimates into spatially explicit land-use scenarios. UPlan stores all user-specified assumptions so many scenarios may be tested against one another in a transparent fashion. We evaluated information needs by asking planning agencies which features (such as roads and urban service boundaries) they considered attractions and discouragement factors for growth. Resource agencies were asked what environmental factors should discourage or constrain growth. All agencies were asked to provide all available and relevant data.
This shared information resulted in an Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA) map and a Prime Agricultural Lands map. These two maps were evaluated at a workshop attended by resource agencies' representatives, elected officials, and city and county planners. Contributors included over 20 federal, state, and non-governmental organizations.
Like most public agencies, MCAG has historically solicited public input for regional transportation planning from a few community workshops. For example, in 2001 the agency held seven workshops for its previous plan. Under PIP, MCAG held 20-32 meetings each quarter, for a total of 100+ public meetings in 18 months. In addition, MCAG replaced the previous narrow focus on transportation by asking county residents to develop a vision for land use, natural resources, and transportation throughout their community. MCAG mastered the use of UPlan and accompanying environmental data and improved substantially on both throughout the course of these public meetings.
Historically, transportation-plan approval has run into considerable public and agency opposition. Federal officials in the last decade have attempted to streamline the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA, which is California's NEPA equivalent), and other permitting procedures. A goal of PIP was to find a method for responsibly arriving at a consensus plan with less conflict, particularly in the environmental-review phase. The Regional Transportation Plan was approved by the MCAG Governing Board and received no opposition during the CEQA Environmental Impact Report (EIR) public-comment period.
Results of the Partnership for Integrated Planning model include:
- 800 percent increase in public participation in the transportation-planning process
- 89 percent of participants said they enjoyed the PIP project
- 89.1 percent of participants said they learned more about transportation issues
- 30 percent increase in awareness of the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) among all county residents
- New issues brought to the surface from county groups who had not previously participated in the process
- Better relationships were built at both the county and city level among civic organizations, agencies, and residents
- RTP was approved by the MCAG Governing Board and received no opposition during public-comment periods
- Development of an Environmentally Sensitive Areas map based on shared information from a variety of resource- agency databases
- Development of a Prime Agricultural Lands map based on input and information from a variety of agricultural interests
Further research is needed on the portability of this information and this tool-centered collaborative approach. Adjacent counties with similar needs are prime candidates for study. In addition, future projects should include measures of the social and political planning decision network structures existing before and after the conduct of such projects.
Maine's Beginning with Habitat Program and Transportation Partnership
Richard Bostwick (Phone: 207-624-3100, Email: email@example.com), Supervisor of Field Studies, Maine Department of Transportation, 16 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0016, Fax: 207-287-3292; and Barbara Charry (Phone: 207-781-6180, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org), Biologist/GIS Manager, Maine Audubon, Falmouth, ME 04105
Transportation facilities and adjacent development are the greatest contributors to habitat loss and fragmentation in Maine. Transportation facilities present a linear structure that is either a physical barrier or zone of adverse habitat that has separated former habitat or, in the case of new facilities, a dividing or fragmenting influence on existing habitat. Maine's Beginning with Habitat (BWH) program and the Maine Department of Transportation have partnered to begin addressing transportation issues related to habitat and wildlife.
Beginning with Habitat is a collaborative, public-private partnership whose mission is to compile, integrate, interpret, and deliver the best available information, tools, and incentives to facilitate effective land-use planning and natural habitat conservation at local, regional, and state-wide scales. In 2004, BWH won an Environmental Merit Award from EPA and the program is now serving as a model for other states that wish to integrate habitat protection with land-use planning. As Maine's landscape changes over time, the goal of the program is to sustain habitat that supports healthy populations of Maine's wildlife and native plants for current and future generations.
BWH was developed by a group of stakeholders concerned about the future of Maine's habitat and wildlife in the face of the increased rate of sprawling development. BWH provides all Maine towns with a collection of GIS maps and accompanying information depicting and describing various habitats of statewide and national significance found in the town. These maps provide communities with information that can help guide conservation of valuable habitats. During the last few years, BWH has met with over 140 towns and land trusts to give individualized presentations on the locations and conservation of high-value plant and animal habitat in their communities.
Current areas of synergy include:
- Developing Northeast regional relations with New England, the Canadian Maritimes, and Québec
- Creating a Maine Habitat and Transportation Working Group that has developed a six-point plan to integrate and act on habitat and transportation goals for the mutual benefit of Maine's transportation networks and habitat
- Using BWH data for transportation scoping early in projects
- Using BWH Focus Areas of statewide ecological significance for transportation-project compensatory-mitigation planning
- Linking transportation and open space components of municipal land-use plans
In addition, an effort is underway to secure funding to develop a habitat-connectivity analysis for enhancement of BWH data and transportation planning. This analysis will use BWH data as well as other data to identify habitat connectivity areas in order to direct strategies to maintain and restore connections.
Quick Fixes: Working Together to Address Herptile Road Mortality in New York State
Debra A. Nelson (Phone: 518-485-5479, Email: email@example.com), Environmental Specialist 3, Water/Ecology Section Head, New York State Department of Transportation, Albany, NY 12232; Mary Ellen Papin (Phone: 585-272-3407, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org), Environmental Specialist 2, Maintenance Environmental Coordinator, New York State Department of Transportation, Region 4, NY 14623, Fax: 585-272-7002; and Timothy Baker (Phone: 315-448-7366, Email: email@example.com), Environmental Specialist 2, Maintenance Environmental Coordinator, New York State Department of Transportation, Region 3, Syracuse, NY
Traditionally, state transportation agencies have designed and built environmental enhancements in response to regulatory requirements to mitigate project impacts. More recently, state transportation agencies have embraced an environmental ethic that goes beyond compliance and encourages agencies routinely to incorporate environmental enhancements into projects and activities. Generally, in-house staff or resource/regulatory agencies identify opportunities to address concerns regarding high-profile species (e.g., large mammals, endangered species).
Taking stewardship one step further, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) has demonstrated innovative responses to problems brought forth by concerned citizens regarding a lesser-studied group of wildlife–amphibians and reptiles (collectively termed "herptiles"). These responses have resulted in valuable partnerships with private citizens, colleges, and resource agencies, thus increasing the agency's credibility in its commitment to an environmental ethic and its reputation for getting things done.
This paper will establish how NYSDOT demonstrated its environmental stewardship on a working level with a quick response to expressed public concerns by highlighting two projects. In each instance, a private citizen alerted NYSDOT about their concern for high mortality rates of salamanders, frogs, and turtles in "hot spots" along the state highways. Common factors in these projects include: NYSDOT paid credence and a speedy response to a private citizen's concern; maintenance forces applied their practical skills to develop an in-the-field solution to the problem; NYSDOT formed fruitful partnerships with colleges, private citizens, and resource agency experts; and costs were minimized by using surplus material, on-hand equipment, and simple designs.
By highlighting two specific examples, we will demonstrate that some problems can be solved quickly by bringing the right group of people together with a variety of skills and knowledge and a determination to get the job done. Methodology, results, and lessons learned will be presented and discussed.
The Canandaigua Lake Herptile Crossing was built in 2002 in response to expressed citizen concerns regarding the high rate of turtle mortality. This project included constructing suitable nesting habitat for turtles on private property and constructing a physical barrier to funnel turtles to existing culverts. NYSDOT formed partnerships with Finger Lakes Community College, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and a private landowner. The Labrador Hollow Herptile Crossing was installed in 2003 in response to a 2002 posting on an internet listerv soliciting help in the "simply phenomenal" herp movement. A 12-inch culvert was installed to serve as a "critter crossing" and surplus w-beam guide rail was imbedded into the ground to guide salamanders and frogs to the culvert.
NYSDOT formed partnerships with the State University of New York's College of Environment Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) and private citizens. These projects demonstrate how collaboration, flexibility, and responsiveness result in simple, creative designs with tangible benefits, fostering good will and a sense of stewardship.
This paper will also discuss research initiated by NYSDOT to identify and address the impacts of transportation on herptiles populations to guide future decision to address herptile-mortality concerns.
Science-Based Approach to Adaptive Management of the TCH Corridor: Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks
Anthony P. Clevenger (Phone: 403-760 1371, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org), Senior Wildlife Biologist, Western Transportation Institute, Montana State University, P.O. Box 174250, Bozeman, MT 59717
In November 1996, we began a long-term research project in Banff National Park (BNP), Alberta, Canada. Our primary study area is situated in the Bow River Valley along the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH) corridor in BNP, located approximately 100 km west of Calgary. The first 45 km of the TCH from the eastern park boundary (phase 1, 2, and 3A) is currently four lanes and is bordered on both sides by a 2.4-m-high wildlife-exclusion fence. The remaining 30 km to the western park boundary (phase 3B) is two lanes and unfenced. Between 2005 and 2007, approximately 12 km of phase 3B will be widened to four lanes with additional fencing and wildlife crossings. Twenty-two wildlife underpasses and two wildlife overpasses were constructed on the first 45 km between 1980 and 1998 to permit wildlife movement across the four-lane section of TCH.
The research carried out to date has provided science-based information for mountain park transportation planners and resource managers. The results have been uniquely used in development of Golder Associates' environmental screening report (environmental-impact assessment) for Parks Canada's TCH phase 3B twinning project. Research of wildlife-crossing performance demonstrated that a longtime series of data is required to assess the function and performance of these critical cross-highway corridors accurately.
Recommendations from the Golder Associates' report for phase 3B strongly underscored the importance of continued, long-term monitoring of TCH mitigation measures in the Bow Valley. After 8 years of study, there still remain noteworthy areas of uncertainty regarding the effects or performance of the current mitigation on regional-landscape connectivity (demographic and genetic). The long-term cumulative effects (beyond 2020) of the phase 3B project and earlier twinning projects will hinge on the degree to which connectivity can be restored across the TCH.
Healthy functioning ecosystems require viable wildlife populations. Thus, it is critical to know the performance of crossing structures at the population level. Although intuitively these measures should enhance population viability, to date there have been no specific studies that actually address their population-level effects. Obtaining data on individuals in a population can be problematic because wide-ranging, fragmentation-sensitive species like bears typically occur in relatively low densities and have low reproductive rates. However, modern molecular techniques now make it possible to identify individual animals, their sex, and genetic relatedness with only a few hairs. These innovations could provide a powerful, relatively inexpensive, and noninvasive way to acquire critical information regarding genetic interchange facilitated by crossings without ever having to capture or see the animal.
This paper highlights:
- Key research findings from the 8-year study
- Mitigation myths that have been dispelled
- Important lessons learned
- Future research needs in the short and long term
- Newly formed international, public-private partnership to meet many of the critical research questions needed for future management decisions
Upcoming Banff research will begin empirically assessing the conservation value of wildlife crossings in restoring landscape connectivity using population-level approaches and nonintrusive DNA-based methodologies.