Eco-Logical: An Ecosystem Approach to
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Developing Infrastructure Projects
Infrastructure consists of the basic facilities - such as transportation and communications systems, utilities, and public institutions - needed for the functioning of a community or society. Sometimes the development of these facilities can negatively impact habitat and ecosystems. Techniques have been developed to better avoid, minimize, and mitigate these impacts, as well as the impacts of past infrastructure projects. However, the avoidance, minimization, and mitigation efforts used may not always provide the greatest environmental benefit, or may do very little to promote ecosystem sustainability. This concern, along with a 1995 Memorandum of Understanding to foster an ecosystem approach mobilized an interagency Steering Team to collaborate over a three-year period to write Eco-Logical: An Ecosystem Approach to Developing Infrastructure Projects.
The Steering Team began with a shared vision of an enhanced and sustainable natural environment, combined with the view that necessary infrastructure can be developed in ways that are more sensitive to terrestrial and aquatic habitats. Eco-Logical encourages Federal, State, tribal and local partners involved in infrastructure planning, design, review, and construction to use flexibility in regulatory processes. Specifically, Eco-Logical puts forth the conceptual groundwork for integrating plans across agency boundaries, and endorses ecosystem-based mitigation - an innovative method of mitigating infrastructure impacts that cannot be avoided.
Benefits for the Steering Team Partners
BLM - Improved resource conservation during land use plan development
EPA - Greater flexibility to do environmental good
FHWA - Streamlined project development and improved mitigation opportunities
NOAA Fisheries Service - Early application of science for solutions
NPS - Using science to protect natural resources while providing visitor experience
USACE - Finding the balance to keep waters clean and clear
USFS - Stewardship of natural resources and facilitated use of public lands
USFWS - One conservation framework, endless possibilities for partnership
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