Environmental Review Toolkit
Accelerating Project Delivery

Eco-Logical Webinar
Western Governors' Association (WGA) Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT):
A Collaborative and Networked Approach for Transportation Projects

Tuesday, February 14, 2012
2:00 - 3:30 PM Eastern

Presenters:

  • Madeleine West, Western Governors' Association
  • Gregg Servheen, Idaho Department of Fish and Game
  • Carmen Bailey, Utah Department of Wildlife Resources
  • Audrey Hatch, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Moderated by Mike Ruth, FHWA Office of Project Development and Environmental Review

PDF Version [1.76 MB]


Table of Contents

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Introduction and Relationship to Western Governors' Association

Introduction of WGA/WGWC and CHAT

Benefits of CHAT

Initial Applications of CHAT to Utah Transportation Planning

Case Studies of CHAT's Use and Benefits in Washington

Conclusions


Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Introduction and Relationship to Western Governors' Association

Slide 1: Western Governors' Association Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT):
A Collaborative and Networked Approach for Transportation Projects

Tuesday, February 14, 2012
2:00 - 3:30 PM Eastern

Presenters:

  • Madeleine West, Western Governors' Association
  • Gregg Servheen, Idaho Department of Fish and Game
  • Carmen Bailey, Utah Department of Wildlife Resources
  • Audrey Hatch, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Moderated by Mike Ruth, FHWA Office of Project Development and Environmental Review

Image: Photograph of a two-lane road carved into the side of a steep mountain within a forested, snow-capped mountain range

Slide 2: Western Governor's Association

  • Formed to provide strong multistate leadership in era of critical change in the economy and demography of the West
  • Six Basic Objectives:
    1. Develop and communicate regional policy
    2. Serve as leadership forum
    3. Build regional capacity
    4. Conduct research and disseminate findings
    5. Form coalitions and partnerships to advance regional interests
    6. Build public understanding & support for regional issues

http://www.westgov.org/index.php

Image: The logo of the Western Governor's Association: Serving the Governors of 19 States and 3 US-Flag Pacific Islands

Slide 3: Captures the Framework of Eco-Logical

  • Builds Partnerships
  • Identifies Resources of interest
  • Coordinates and Integrates Management Plans affecting these resources
  • Assesses the Effects
  • Establishes and Prioritizes Opportunities
  • Documents Agreements
  • Regional Approach
  • Balanced with Adaptive Management Capabilities

Slide 4: Upcoming Eco-Logical Webinar Topics

April 2012: Highlights from the FHWA Eco-Logical Grant Program Annual Report: Lessons for Applying Eco-Logical to Transportation Planning and Project Delivery

May 2012: The Use of Regional Ecosystem Frameworks (REFs) for Transportation Planning at Regional, State, and National Scales

Future topics:

  • Wetland Planning and Assessments: Applications for Transportation Siting and Mitigation
  • Linking Transportation and Ecosystems in an Urban Environment: Stormwater Developments and Case Studies
  • Green Infrastructure: Eco-Logical Concepts in Infrastructure Planning
  • Technical Assistance to Connect Eco-Logical Knowledge with Transportation Plans and Projects
  • Land Trusts as Mitigation Partnership Opportunities

Eco-Logical Webinar Series:
http://www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/ecological/eco_webinar_series.asp

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Introduction of WGA/WGWC and CHAT

Slide 5: Western Governors' Wildlife Council Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool

February 14, 2012

Image: The logo of the Western Governor's Association

Slide 6: Presentation Overview

  • Background on the Western Governors' Wildlife Council (WGWC)
  • Status of development of the Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT)
  • Highlight how CHAT can inform transportation projects and stakeholder collaborations
Image: Graphic of a map of the 19 Western Governor's Association states

Slide 7: Wildlife Council Vision

  • Identify key wildlife corridors and crucial habitats, and develop and coordinate policy options and tools for preserving those landscapes.
  • Provide a user friendly online tool for parties to access consistent wildlife information across political boundaries to better inform land use planning
Image: Screenshot of the cover of the Wildlife Corridors Initiative June 2008 Report by the Western Governor's Association shows a heard of deer running across a snow-covered field

Slide 8: WGWC Accomplishments

Image: Graphic timeline showing WGWC Accomplishments from 2007 through 2011. In 2007: WGA Corridors Policy. In 2008: WGA Corridors Report and Formation of WGWC. In 2009: Governors' MOU with USDA, DOE, and DOI; First Public WGWC Meeting; $3M grant from DOE; and Montana CAPS Released. In 2010: Initial White Paper Released; Wildlife Pilot Projects Launched; Renewal of WGWA Corridors Policy; and MT CAPS Presented to Western Govs @ WGA Winter Mtg. In 2011: Amendment to Wildlife MOU; Revised White Paper Guidance; Washington PHS on the Web Released; Release of Southern Great Plains CHAT; Release of Arizona HabiMap; and Release of California Areas of Conservation Emphasis.

Slide 9: CHAT in 2013

  • Identification of crucial habitats for fish and wildlife including wildlife corridors and connectivity across Western states
  • West-wide CHAT displaying wildlife information at relevant scales across the entire Western U.S.
  • State-based geospatial tools in increasing numbers of states
Image: Graphic of four different multi-colored geospatial layers floating above each other

Slide 10: Benefit to Planners

  • Informative: Better equips decision-makers to analyze proposed infrastructure projects.
  • Relevant: Inspired by the need to develop new infrastructure across the West and plan at a regional level. Initial work funded by U.S. DOE to incorporate wildlife considerations into regional transmission planning.
  • Proactive: Provides a common starting point, to proactively obtain important wildlife information at regional scales.
  • Desirable: Offers greater predictability and efficiency by combining unique wildlife information from multiple states into a single, user-friendly system of coordinated, vetted and pre-qualified data and maps.
  • Regional: Depicts priority areas for wildlife and habitat consistently across political jurisdictions.
Image: Screenshot from the CHAT Tool
Image: Graphic of four images of the same colored map

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Benefits of CHAT

Slide 11: Crucial Habitat and Corridors Identification

Step 1 – Data Development

  • inventory information valuable in identifying crucial habitat,
  • address data gaps and inconsistencies across political jurisdictions

Step 2 – Prioritization of Crucial Habitats

  • apply common definitions of crucial habitats using developed data
  • prioritize based on aggregated data and state objectives
  • build to suit regional, state, and project level

Step 3 – Develop Public Planning Tool

  • geospatial applications to display priorities and data
  • user interface based on customer needs
  • effect regional, state, and project level decisions

Slide 12: Westwide Work in 2012

  • Compile and edge-match Tier I data west-wide
    • Habitat for Listed and Species of Concern
    • Native and Unfragmented Lands (Landscape Integrity)
    • Riparian/Wetland Habitats
    • Connectivity and Linkage Areas
    • Terrestrial Game and Sportfish Habitat
  • Develop rules for applying WGA crucial habitat definitions 1-3
  • Accommodate state specific needs (linked to individual SWAPs)
  • Develop West-wide CHAT that incorporates the above (GIS platform)

Slide 13: Ensuring Use of CHAT

  • 2009 MOU between Western Governors, DOI, DOE, USDA
    • Federal agencies to support states identification of crucial habitats and corridors across the West
  • 2011 Agreement Under MOU
    • Fed agencies agree to utilize WGA produced crucial habitat & corridor information
    • Improve coordination - reduce duplication of effort and efficiencies by coordinating similar initiatives
  • Stakeholder Advisory Group (industry, NGOs, landowners)
    • Help develop the CHAT user interface, guide content and application, and aid CHAT outreach and use

Slide 14: Looking Ahead

  • October 2012
    • Every state will identify “crucial” habitat
    • States developing individual state CHATs
  • December 2013
    • State information will be networked and displayed in a public, West-wide, CHAT
  • Ongoing
    • Integration of CHAT into state and project specific applications
    • Dynamic updates and maintenance for long-term CHAT relevance

Slide 15: Using Wildlife Data to Plan and Implement Transportation Mitigation

Image: Close-up photograph of a deer in the arched culvert crossing under I-70

Photograph courtesy of Patricia Cramer

Slide 16: Acknowledgements

  • Dr. Patricia Cramer, Robert Hamlin, and Megan Schwender
  • UDOT and UDWR for providing manpower and funding
  • MDF, RMEF, FNAWS, SFW, and UBA for funding assistance

Ashley Green, Utah Wildlife Coordinator
ashleygreen@utah.gov

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Initial Applications of CHAT to Utah Transportation Planning

Slide 17: Case Studies From Utah

  • U.S. Highway 6 (reconstruction)
  • Interstate 70 (wildlife retrofit)
Image: Map of the area south of Salt Lake City, Utah showing the reconstruction area along U.S. Highway 6 and the wildlife retrofit along Interstate 70

Slide 18: US 6 Coordinating Committee

2005 Record of Decision for the US 6 Reconstruction FEIS established committee to study and address wildlife and vehicle collisions

  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Federal Highway Administration, Utah Division
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Uinta National Forest
  • Utah Department of Transportation
  • Utah State University

Slide 19: Functional Wildlife Passage

Image: Artist rendering of a functional wildlife passage over a highway. View is a bird's-eye view looking down onto a lush, forested passage.
Image: Photograph of a clear water stream flowing out from a small culvert

Slide 20: Wildlife Vehicle Collision (WVC) Data: Statewide Database

  • WVC data entered into a statewide database
  • Summarizes carcass pickups by year, route, milepost, etc.
  • Allows transportation officials and wildlife managers to identify safety problems, high kill zones, and potential mitigation areas

Slide 21: US 6 Big Game Wildlife Vehicle Collisions 2005-2010

Image: Line graph that plots the number of mule deer and elk vehicle collisions (number of carcasses) from 2005 to 2010 at mileposts 177 through 237 on US 6. The total vehicle collisions was 1911 for mule deer and 121 for elk. Collisions are spread relatively evenly across this section of the highway except for a small spike around milepost 205 (65 mule deer) and a very large spike around milepost 235 (159 mule deer).

Slide 22: Siting new Wildlife Crossing Structures on US 6

Image: The same line graph in Slide 21, with the additional markup of four labeled points along the line: MP 200.7 underpass, Tucker underpass, Colton culvert, and Beaver Creek underpass

Slide 23: US 6 Wildlife Crossing Structures

Image: Photograph of the culvert under the bridge at MP 200.7
Image: Photograph of the culvert under the bridge at Tucker
Image: Photograph of the culvert under the bridge at Colton
Image: Photograph of the culvert under the bridge at Beaver Creek

Photographs courtesy of Ashley Green

Slide 24: Preliminary Results: US 6

Images: Four photographs of mule deer using culvert crossings to pass underneath bridges

Photographs courtesy of Patricia Cramer

Slide 25: Wildlife Vehicle Collisions I-70 Study Area: 1996-2009

Image: Line graph that plots the number of mule deer and elk vehicle collisions (number of carcasses) from 1996 to 2009 at mileposts 1 through 7 on I-70. The total vehicle collisions for mule deer and elk was 450. Collisions plotted are approximately 35 for milepost 1, 96 for milepost 2, 97 for milepost 3, 90 for milepost 4, 93 for milepost 5, 28 for milepost 6, and 10 for milepost 7.

Slide 26: Siting of I-70 Wildlife Crossing Infrastructure

Image: The same line graph as in Slide 25, with the additional markup of two labeled points along the line: milepost 3 is labeled "Box culvert (existing)" and milepost 5 is labeled "Underpasses (new)." Also, the areas up to milepost 2.5 and from milepost 5 through milepost 7 are labeled "Wildlife exclusionary fencing."

Slide 27: I-70 arched underpass at MP 5.3

Images: Four photographs of the arched underpass at MP 5.3: during construction, after construction completion, during a snowstorm, and after a snowstorm

Photographs courtesy of Patricia Cramer and Bruce Bonebrake

Slide 28: Preliminary Results: US 6

Images: Four photographs of wildlife using culvert crossings under US 6

Photographs courtesy of Patricia Cramer

Slide 29: Preliminary Results: I-70 underpasses

Image: Four photographs of wildlife using the arched culvert crossing under I-70

Photographs courtesy of Patricia Cramer

Slide 30: National Award

2010 US 6 Wildlife Coordinating Committee was awarded the Exemplary Ecosystem Initiative Award from the Federal Highways Administration

Slide 31: Current Projects

Image: Photograph of an iPhone screen with a number of application icons. A large red arrow points to the "Roadkill Rep" icon: a deer-crossing caution sign.

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Case Studies of CHAT's Use and Benefits in Washington

Slide 32: Roadkill App Map

Image: Screenshot from the Utah Roadkill Reporter Application showing a map of the mitigation areas plotted with colored markers to denote types of roadkill instances: red for mule deer, blue for elk, green for raccoon, purple for moose, and orange for others.

Slide 33: Transportation Planning & CHAT: Examples from the Great Northwest

  • I-90 Snoqualmie Pass project
  • Washington Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group
  • Oregon Wildlife Movement Strategy
  • Oregon Collaborative Environmental Transportation Agreement for Streamlining (CETAS)

Slide 34: Washington: I-90 Snoqualmie Pass project

  • Wildlife habitat linkage assessment
  • Broad coalition of stakeholders including Conservation Northwest; I-90 Wildlife Bridges coalition
Image: Close-up photograph of a large black bear
Image: Photograph of semi trailer on a rural highway
Image: Aerial photograph of a divided highway within a thick forest

Slide 35: Washington Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group

  • WSDOTWDFW collaborative partnership
  • Connectivity products
Image: Smaller photograph of the black bear from the previous slide
Images: Two maps of Washington State and surrounding areas, color-coded by connectivity levels

Slide 36: Washington Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group

  • WSDOT “Environmental Workbench” – catalogue of data
  • WG formed to give WSDOT, others broader information on conservation planning
  • Wildlife/vehicle collisions tracked to augment knowledge of retrofit opportunities
Image: Map of Washington State and surrounding areas, color-coded to show the areas of habitat concentration of the American Badger (Taxidea taxus)

Slide 37: Oregon Wildlife Movement Strategy

  • ODOTODFW, Collaborative partnership
  • Produced Wildlife Linkage Assessment
  • Hosted FHWA conservation data workshop, 2008
  • Continued coordination with CHAT; with Washington
Image: Collage of three screenshots of maps from the CHAT tool
Image: Photograph from the FHWA conservation workshop of five people in a conference room with a map of Washington State projected on the wall

Slide 38: Example of Efficient Planning in Oregon

  • Amphibian – friendly culvert design
  • One way to incorporate conservation data into project planning
Image: Photograph of a frog
Image: Photograph of a clear stream flowing down a series of natural rock "stairs" in the woods on a sunny day

Slide 39: Oregon Collaborative Environmental Transportation Agreement for Streamlining

  • Regular meetings to streamline environmental processes
  • Call for resource mapping and data management system to provide
  • Saves staff time, project and planning budgets
Image: Photograph of numerous people gathered around four large maps of Oregon on tables

Slide 40: Reflections from the Great Northwest:

  • Improved data access
  • Early in process to inform land use planning
  • Regional consistency
Image: Photograph of a still pond in the mountains on a sunny spring day. Thick green vegetation is growing in the pond and the mountains in the background still have some snow on them.

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Conclusions

Slide 41: Conclusion

  • WGA initiative leverages state wildlife authorities and expertise & Governor leadership
  • CHAT an outcome of technology advances and development demands
  • Initiative has evolved from state to state to pilot groups to west-wide network
  • WGA network subverts political and administrative disconnects

Slide 42: Conclusion

  • WGA effort building a west-wide CHAT tied to individual state data & conservation priorities
  • Coarse filter landscape integrity and connectivity
  • Fine filter TES and SGCN and game species data
  • Down-scale climate change models

Slide 43: Conclusion

  • States are working cooperatively with land managers (BLM and USFS)
  • States are working cooperatively with federal wildlife managers (USFWS)
  • States are initiating cooperation with federal science agencies (USGS)

Slide 44: Conclusion

  • State network is building a best management practices approach
  • Working to insure integration with other GIS tools and efforts
  • Working with stakeholders on how they need to be served wildlife information
  • Integrating west-wide to states and landscape to project specific

Slide 45: Thank you!

Madeleine West
Western Governors' Association
mwest@westgov.org

Carmen Bailey
Utah Department of Wildlife Resources
CarmenBailey@utah.gov

Gregg Servheen
Idaho Department of Fish and Game
gregg.servheen@idfg.idaho.gov

Audrey Hatch
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Audrey.Hatch@dfw.wa.gov

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For questions or feedback on this subject, please contact Mike Ruth at 202-366-9509.

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