Environmental Review Toolkit
Accelerating Project Delivery

Eco-Logical Webinar
Creating a Regional Ecosystem Framework (REF)

Thursday, January 24, 2013
3:00 - 4:00 PM Eastern

Presenter:

  • Pete McGilvray, Florida Department of Transportation

Moderated by Bill Ostrum, FHWA

PDF Version [3.9 MB]


Table of Contents

Creating a Regional Ecosystem Framework – FHWA Background

Efficient Transportation Decision Making (ETDM) Process: ETDM and Environmental Screening Tool (EST) Overview


Creating a Regional Ecosystem Framework – FHWA Background

Slide 1: Creating a Regional Ecosystem Framework (REF)

Featuring Florida's Environmental Transportation Decision Making (ETDM) Tool

Presenter

  • Pete McGilvray, Florida Department of Transportation

Moderated by Bill Ostrum, FHWA

Volpe: The National Transportation Systems Center
Advancing transportation innovation for the public good

U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration

U.S. Department of Transportation
Research and Innovative Technology Administration
John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center

Image: a collage of four images from the report Eco-Logical: An Ecosystem Approach to Developing Infrastructure Projects: the underside of a bridge arching over a river, a young deer, a fish, and a rural road flanked by tall grasses and trees

Slide 2: FHWA Research Program for Environment and Planning

Under SAFETEA-LU, the Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative Research Program (STEP) sought to:

  • Improve understanding of the complex relationship between surface transportation, planning and the environment.
  • Refine the scope of transportation research through outreach and in consultation with stakeholders.
  • Develop more accurate models for evaluating transportation control measures and system designs for use by State and local governments.
  • Improve the understanding of transportation demand factors.
  • Develop indicators of economic, social, and environmental performance of transportation systems to facilitate alternatives analysis.

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/hep/step/

Slide 3: FHWA Research Program for Environment and Planning

Under MAP-21, FHWA will:

  • Develop a Performance Management approach to transportation investments.
  • Minimize the costs of transportation planning and environmental decisionmaking processes, highway infrastructure, and operations.
  • Improve transportation planning and environmental decisionmaking coordination and processes.
  • Minimize and reduce the potential impact of highway infrastructure, operations, and surface transportation on the environment.
  • Improve construction techniques and their related emissions.
  • Reduce the impact of highway runoff on the environment.
  • Improve the modeling of factors that contribute to the demand for transportation.

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/hep/index.htm

Slide 4: Integrated Eco-Logical Framework (IEF)

  • Integrate transportation and ecological decisionmaking.
  • Identify potential impacts to environmental resources very early in the planning process.

Image: A crowd in a forest looks over branches of a fallen tree spread around a small clearing. (Courtesy of Volpe Center)

Slide 5: Steps of the IEF (and the Eco-Logical approach)

  1. Build and strengthen collaborative partnerships
  2. Integrate natural environment plans
  3. Create a Regional Ecosystem Framework (REF)
  4. Assess effects
  5. Establish and prioritize ecological actions
  6. Develop crediting strategy
  7. Develop programmatic consultation, biological opinion, or permit
  8. Implement agreements, adaptive management, and deliver projects
  9. Update REF

Slide 6: Why create an REF?

A REF helps agencies:

  • Develop a joint understanding of locations and potential impacts of proposed transportation projects.
  • Identify ecologically significant areas, regions to avoid, and mitigation opportunities.
  • Plan at a scale that makes sense for ecosystem resources and transportation corridors.

Slide 7: Purpose of the REF

Answer these questions:

  • How do we want to use the REF?
  • Who is at the table, and what are their priorities?
  • What types and scale of data is available?
  • What expertise and technology is available?
  • What might be secondary uses of the REF?

Slide 8: Steps to Develop an REF

  1. Overlay maps
    • a) Infrastructure plans - including LRTP, TIP, or STIP
    • b) Conservation plans
    • c) Natural and cultural resources
  2. Define region
  3. Describe REF in writing

Image: Screenshot of a map of a study area generated by the REAP/GISST integrated tool. Color-coded areas denote land classification by level of ecological significance. (Courtesy of EPA Region 6)

Slide 9: Steps to Develop an REF

  1. Overlay maps
  2. Define region
    • a) What is your joint planning area?
    • b) Factors to help determine your planning area:
      • Geo-political boundaries
      • Socioeconomic factors
      • Watershed or habitat boundaries
  3. Describe REF in writing

Image: Photograph of a calm river nestled among pine-forested hills (Courtesy of Volpe Center)

Slide 10: Steps to Develop an REF

  1. Overlay maps
  2. Define region
  3. Write out high-level conservation goals
    • a) Opportunity areas for mitigation
    • b) Priorities for conservation and avoidance
    • c) Consider ecosystem credits
    • d) Convene stakeholders to address opportunities and priorities

Slide 11: Constraints and Considerations

  • Scale of data
    • Fine scale for assessing project-level effects
    • Coarse scale for high-level planning purposes
  • Compatibility of data
  • Types of data, plans, and projects to include
  • User-friendly format

Image: Screenshot from a GIS-based wildlife-connectivity framework, developed by New Hampshire Audubon and the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, to evaluate the impact of transportation projects on wildlife species. This screenshot displays Connectivity Zones between 500+ acre conservation blocks.

Slide 12: Creating a Regional Ecosystem Framework (REF) and Florida's Efficient Transportation Decision Making (ETDM) Tool

Contacts:

Volpe: The National Transportation Systems Center
Advancing transportation innovation for the public good

U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration

U.S. Department of Transportation
Research and Innovative Technology Administration
John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center

Image: a collage of four images from the report Eco-Logical: An Ecosystem Approach to Developing Infrastructure Projects: the underside of a bridge arching over a river, a young deer, a fish, and a rural road flanked by tall grasses and trees

Back to top


Efficient Transportation Decision Making (ETDM) Process: ETDM and Environmental Screening Tool (EST) Overview

Slide 13: Efficient Transportation Decision Making (ETDM) Process

ETDM and Environmental Screening Tool (EST) Overview
Eco-Logical Webinar Series
January 24, 2013

Image: An online map overlaid with handwritten descriptions of land uses, including student housing and retail.

Images: Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) logo and logo of FDOT's Environmental Management Office

Slide 14: Previous Project Delivery Process

Image: Flow chart illustrating a project's flow from mobility planning to FDOT's 5-year work plan to environmental partner involvement. Call out bubbles highlight that environmental impacts and outreach are not considered until late in project development.

Slide 15: ETDM Process

  • A way of planning and developing qualifying transportation projects that expedites project delivery without sacrificing the quality of the human and natural environments
  • Enables agencies and the public to provide early input to FDOT and MPOs about the potential effects of proposed transportation projects
    • Open communication and transparent decision documentation
    • Earlier/Better definition of issues, feasibility, and potential costs
    • No re-education at the permitting stage
    • Expected reduction in late project challenges and litigation - meaningful dispute resolution mechanisms
  • Helps satisfy streamlining objectives of MAP-21 and SAFETEA-LU, and other FHWA initiatives like Every Day Counts (EDC)

Slide 16: Qualifying Projects

  • Roadway Projects
    • Additional through lanes that add capacity to an existing road
    • A new roadway, freeway, or expressway
    • A highway providing new access to an area
    • A new or reconstructed arterial highway (e.g. realignment)
    • A new circumferential or belt highway bypassing a community
    • Addition of interchanges or major interchange modifications to a completed freeway or expressway
    • A new bridge providing new access to an area; bridge replacements (i.e. not Programmatic Categorical Exclusions [PCE] listed in the PD&E Manual, Part 1, Chapter 2 Class of Action Determination)
  • Public Transportation
    • Rail - non-passenger rail on the SIS, new commuter rail, or new freight rail extending beyond current footprint
    • Transit - new facility, new terminal, New Start project extending beyond current footprint

Slide 17: ETDM Process Overview

Image: Flow chart of ETDM process from needs planning to project design. Chart shows that the EST can be applied after needs planning as a “planning screen” or after long-range cost-feasible planning as a “programming screen.”

Slide 18: ETDM Participants

More than 30 state, federal, and local agencies and tribal governments

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
Federal Transit Agency (FTA)
US Army Corp of Engineers (USACE)
US Coast Guard (USCG)
US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA)
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS)
US Forest Service (USFS)
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
National Park Service (NPS)
Seminole Tribe
Miccosukee Tribe
County Governments
Regional Planning Councils (RPCs)
Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs)

Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP)
Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (FDEO)
Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC)
Northwest Florida Water Management District (NWFWMD)
South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD)
Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD)
St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD)
Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD)

ETAT: Environmental Technical Advisory Team

Image: Photograph of the ETDM Memorandum of Understanding with twenty-four signatures

Slide 19: What decisions are supported through Screening Process?

  • Class of Action Determination
  • PD&E Study Scope of Work
  • Lead, Cooperating, and Participating Agencies
  • Eliminate Alternatives
  • Technical Studies that can be advanced

Image: Photograph of a hand signing the bottom of a paper embossed with a USDOT logo. Atop the image is a question in a large blue font: How do the ETAT comments help support these decisions?

Slide 20: ETAT Responsibilities

What do we need from the ETAT?

  • Identify important resources and why they are important
  • Actionable comments
  • Help us minimize and avoid impacts
  • Identify potential mitigation opportunities
  • Confirm or clarify DOT preliminary environmental discussions describing anticipated involvement with environmental resources
  • Provide information not in the Tool
  • Tell us what you need – be specific
  • Identify a potential controversy
  • Provide suggestions
  • Coordinate internally to provide complete response on behalf of their agency
  • Confirming their understanding of the project's purpose
  • Use your agency resources to:
    • Fill in the gaps in the data, or
    • Agree that the data is valid
  • Convey personal knowledge
    • of the area
    • of the resource
  • Identify activities we can complete between screening events to answer any questions

Image: Photograph of a swamp with lush vegetation among the trunks of a grove of cypress trees

Slide 21: Issues ETAT Comment On

Image: Screenshot showing data map layers available in EST. These layers include air quality, contamination, farmlands, mobility, recreation areas, and wetlands.

Slide 22: Environmental Screening Tool

Image: Flow chart demonstrating key EST capabilities: data entry, GIS analysis, project review, and summary reports.

Slide 23: Environmental Screening Tool

  • Project Purpose
  • GIS Analysis Results
  • Resource Data
  • Maps
  • Previous Commentary
  • Summary Reports

Image: A collage of potential EST inputs and outputs, including report summaries and GIS maps.

Slide 24: Contents, Tools, and Search

Image: Screenshots showing available EST data layers and a search tool for project-related and other spatial data within EST.

Slide 25: Access to GIS layers, tools, and analyses

Image: A collage of EST maps with parcel-level land use as well as transportation routes.

Slide 26: Access to GIS layers, tools, and analyses

Image: A series of EST maps showing how habitat or other environmental data can be overlaid on a map of potential projects.

Slide 27: Street Viewer

Image: Screenshot of street-level images on Google Maps viewed within EST.

Slide 28: Map Tools

Image: Screenshot of video playback and programmed spatial queries within EST.

Slide 29: Other Information

Image: Screenshots of other information available through the EST, including property appraisal information, agency comments on project effects, and demographic information for communities.

Slide 30: ETAT provide a Degree of Effect (DOE)

  1. Identify resources & level of importance
  2. Assess effects
    • Direct
    • Indirect
    • Cumulative
  3. Identify potential severity of effects with detailed comments

Image: Collage of screenshots and photos, including a map of different project alternatives, a spreadsheet, an audience writing and discussing during a public meeting, and three people surveying a forested landscape.

Slide 31: Submit Reviews

Image: Three screenshots from the ETDM: the Cumulative Effects Considerations Review page, the Project Effects page, and the Review Purpose and Need page.

Slide 32: Summary Report

  • Preliminary and Final
    • Resource to Project Managers
    • Feedback document summarizing project review
      • Summary DOEs
      • Accepted P&N
      • Project Scope
  • Final
    • Signed Class of Action

Image: Screenshot of the ETDM Summary Report Data Options

Image: Screenshot of an ETDM Summary Report's table of contents page

Image: Graphic of an unbalanced fulcrum tipped slightly lower on the right. On the left side of the fulcrum sits two colored rectangles (labeled SRWMD and FDEO). On the fulcrum's right side are three colored rectangles (labeled FDEP, USCG, and NPS).

Slide 33: Lessons Learned & Best Practices

  • Be inclusive – the EST and ETDM process is the result of practitioners getting together to figure out a better way to do things
  • Plan for change – there are always opportunities to do better or be more efficient – seek continuous improvement
  • Best available – until the next best available
  • People, communication, and relationships drive the outcomes

Slide 34: Questions?

Peter McGilvray
Project Screening & Technologies Administrator
Peter.mcgilvray@dot.state.fl.us
(850) 414-5330

ETDM/EST Help Desk
help@fla-etat.org
(850) 414-5334

Images: FDOT logo and logo of FDOT's Environmental Management Office

Back to top

HEP Home Planning Environment Real Estate

Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000