Objective Sponsors Final Agenda Proceedings Conference Facility

The 2007 International Conference
on Ecology & Transportation
Little Rock, Arkansas

May 20-25, 2007
"Bridging the Gaps, Naturally"

Bridging the Gaps Naturally

Coming Up Next: ICOET 2009 in Minnesota!

Abstracts: Cross-Cutting Session

Stewart Airport Ecosystem: Taking Off with Innovative Approaches

  • Debra Nelson, Water/Ecology Section Head, NYSDOT, Environmental Analysis Bureau, Albany, NY, Phone: 518-485-5479.
  • Lisa Weiss, Downstate Environmental Zone Manager, NYSDOT, Poughkeepsie, NY, Phone: 845-431-5853.

The Stewart Airport Access Improvement Project (SAAIP) embraces the essence of New York State Department of Transportation’s (NYSDOT) environmental ethic. The objectives of the project are to provide safe, efficient and improved access to Stewart International Airport, while stimulating the local economy and minimizing environmental impacts. In the end, in addition to meeting the project needs, the project results in the establishment of the nearly 7,000-acre (2,833-hectare) Stewart State Forest; preservation of the 8-acre (3.2 hectare) Colden Mansion ruins; creation of 13 acres (5.3 hectares) of wetland; preservation of a large population of a rare plant and establishment of a seed bank for its propagation; incorporation of wildlife crossings into the highway design to maintain habitat connectivity; conservation of federally-endangered Indiana bat potential maternity roosts and suitable summer roosting habitat; and creation and long-term monitoring of twelve vernal pools as breeding habitat for herptiles. This stewardship approach evolved over ten years, through partnerships, collaboration, innovation, as well as NYSDOT’s willingness and support to improve the environmental conditions.

Supporting Transportation, Water, and Ecological Systems in the Great Lakes Basin

  • Judy Beck, Lake Michigan Manager, Great Lakes National Program Office, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), Phone: 312-353-3849.
  • Sherry Kamke, Environmental Specialist, Region 5, USEPA, Phone: 312-353-5794.
  • Kimberly Majerus, Ecologist and GIS Analyst, Environmental Team, Resource Center, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Phone: 708-283-4346.

The North American Great Lakes Basin ecosystem is globally significant. A unique, bi-national Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) between Canada and the United States is the backbone for cooperative efforts within the Basin. The Agreement establishes a basis for implementing a systems approach "to restore and maintain the physical, chemical and biological integrity of the waters of the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem," ... as... "the interacting components of air, land, water and living organisms, including humans, within the drainage basin" (GLWQA 1987). This paper introduces the interacting systems of the Great Lakes Basin ecosystem. Lessons learned and the shortfalls of approaches that divide an ecosystem into individualized compartments are also summarized. Discussion includes advancements in practices and partnerships to improve ecosystem health. The purpose of this paper is to highlight activities within the Great Lakes Basin and to discuss a systems approach to sustaining multiple economic, community, and environmental benefits.

Arizona's Wildlife Linkages Assessment

  • Bruce Eilerts, Section Chief/Planning Program Manager, Arizona DOT, Phoenix, AZ, Phone: 602-712-7398.
  • Siobhan Nordhaugen, GIS/Special Projects Consultant, Arizona DOT, Phoenix, AZ, Phone: 602-712-6166.

With the release of the Arizona's Wildlife Linkages Assessment in November 2006, the Arizona Wildlife Linkages Workgroup is working to integrate and incorporate wildlife concerns and habitat connectivity needs into the forefront of transportation and regional planning processes to address habitat fragmentation due to highways and other human development.

Arizona, ranking third nationally for biodiversity, is home to nearly 900 vertebrate wildlife species. The phenomenal growth of Arizona's human population, economy and infrastructure present challenges to the maintenance of natural ecosystems and wildlife populations that constitute an important part of the State's wealth. In particular, roads, urbanization, canals, railways, energy corridors and activities of illegal migrants and border security operations not only destroy habitat, but create barriers that isolate wildlife populations and disrupt ecological functions such as gene flow, predator-prey interactions, and migration. In each landscape, we must address all factors concurrently to successfully maintain or restore linkages between habitats and conserve the state's wildlife and natural ecosystems.

The Arizona Wildlife Linkages Workgroup (AWLW) is a collaborative effort formed by the Arizona Department of Transportation, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Bureau of Land Management, Federal Highway Administration, Northern Arizona University, Sky Island Alliance, USDA Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Wildlands Project to address habitat fragmentation through a cohesive, systematic approach. Through this partnership and commitment, a series of successful statewide workshops were conducted in order to facilitate "buy-in" to the process and gather information from local experts to identify:

  1. Large blocks of protected habitat;
  2. Wildlife movement corridors (potential linkage zones) between as well as through them; and
  3. Factors threatening to disrupt such linkage zones.

Overcoming the barrier effect of roads – how effective are mitigation strategies? An international review of the use and effectiveness of underpasses and overpasses designed to increase the permeability of roads for wildlife.

  • Rodney van der Ree, Phone: 61-03-8344-3661, Nadine Gulle, and Kelly Holland: Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, School of Botany, University of Melbourne, Australia.
  • Edgar van der Grift: Alterra, Wageningen University and Research Centre, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
  • Cristina Mata, Francisco Suarez: Grupo de Ecologia y Conservacion de Ecosistemas Terrestres, Department of Ecology, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Spain.

Roads, railways and other linear infrastructure are pervasive components of most landscapes throughout the world. Combined with the effect of vehicles, they have the potential to cause mortality in wildlife, severely disrupt animal movement and increase the risk of local extinction. Management agencies and conservation organisations currently spend considerable amounts of money annually on engineering solutions to increase the permeability of roads for wildlife. We evaluated the use and effectiveness of wildlife crossing structures (e.g. tunnels, culverts, overpasses) by reviewing studies published in the refereed scientific literature, conference proceedings and consultant reports. We evaluated the scientific rigour and methodology of studies, the extent to which studies demonstrated an increase in permeability, the detail included in the reporting and the extent to which population, community and ecosystem effects were shown. One hundred and twenty three studies were reviewed and all except two found an effect at the level of the individual animal. Two studies demonstrated a positive effect for the population and thus overall, the effectiveness of mitigation measures at reducing the risk of population extinction remains unclear. The level of scientific rigour, amount of replication and description of adjacent habitat and animal populations varied considerably among studies, in many cases limiting the level of inference that could be made. In the context of evaluation, we propose that a clear distinction be made between “use” and “effectiveness” of a wildlife crossing structure. The use of a structure may be broadly defined as the rate of detections of individuals or species, while effectiveness relates to a specific question or the goal of mitigation. A large amount of effort has conclusively shown that crossing structures are used by many species of wildlife. The long-term success of mitigation will ultimately depend on their effectiveness – i.e. to what extent have they mitigated the barrier effect of roads and has this prevented the local extinction of populations due to road effects? The next phase of research must focus more explicitly on quantifying their effectiveness, relative to location- and species-specific goals.