Environmental Review Toolkit
Accelerating Project Delivery

Eco-Logical Webinar
Using Eco-Logical to Identify Priorities for Conservation and Mitigation

Wednesday, March 16, 2011
2:00 - 3:30 PM Eastern

Presenters

  • Sharon Osowski Morgan, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Region 6
  • Amy Boyers, Houston-Galveston Area Council
  • Allison Weakley, North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Moderated by Mary Gray, FHWA Office of Project Development and Environmental Review

PDF Version [5 MB]


Table of Contents

Regional Ecological Assessment Protocol (REAP): Ecological Information for Transportation Planning in the South Central United States

Creating a Regional Decision Support System for the Houston-Galveston Region

North Carolina's Strategic Conservation Planning: Identifying Priorities for Conservation and Mitigation

SHRP2 and ICOET Overview


Regional Ecological Assessment Protocol (REAP): Ecological Information for Transportation Planning in the South Central United States

The slides in this presentation are branded with a small image of the cover of the Eco-Logical: An Ecosystem Approach to Developing Infrastructure Projects document.

Slide 1: Using Eco-Logical to Identify Priorities for Conservation and Mitigation

Sharon L. Osowski, Ph.D.
US Environmental Protection Agency Region 6
March 16, 2011

Image: Logo of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Slide 2: REAP Purpose

  • Purpose: To identify ecologically important resources across the EPA Region 6 in order to support greater collaborative approaches to strategic, ecosystem management.
  • 3 key ecological aspects: Diversity, Rarity, Sustainability. Combined into a Composite Layer

Slide 3: Arkansas Diversity

Habitats & landscape
What areas have the most diverse land cover?

Image: Map of Arkansas, with areas colored to show the land cover diversity: Top 1%(More Diverse), 2-10%, 11-25%, 26-50%, and 51-100%(Less Diverse)

Slide 4: Oklahoma Rarity

Species & Communities
What areas have the greatest number of rare species and vegetation?

Image: Map of Oklahoma, with areas colored to show the land cover diversity: Top 1%(More Diverse), 2-10%, 11-25%, 26-50%, and 51-100%(Less Diverse)

Slide 5: Louisiana Sustainability

Stressors & Fragmentors
What areas can sustain ecosystems w/o human intervention?

Image: Map of Louisiana, with areas colored to show the land cover diversity: Top 1%(More Diverse), 2-10%, 11-25%, 26-50%, and 51-100%(Less Diverse)

Slide 6: New Mexico Composite

Stressors & Fragmentors
What areas can sustain ecosystems w/o human intervention?

Image: Map of New Mexico, with areas colored to show the land cover diversity: Top 1%(More Diverse), 2-10%, 11-25%, 26-50%, and 51-100%(Less Diverse)

Slide 7: Potential Uses

  • Long Range Planning: community visioning, transportation planning
  • Short term planning: complex projects, mitigation
  • NEPA analysis & assessment
  • SAFETEA-LU environmental requirements
  • Integrate with other tools (e.g., NEPAssist)

Slide 8: Contact Info

Sharon Osowski Morgan
214-665-7506
osowski.sharon@epa.gov

TEAP Report:
http://nepis.epa.gov

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Creating a Regional Decision Support System for the Houston-Galveston Region

Most of the slides in this presentation are branded with two small images: the cover of the Eco-Logical: An Ecosystem Approach to Developing Infrastructure Projects document and the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) logo.

Slide 1: Creating a Regional Decision Support System for the Houston-Galveston Region

Amy Boyers, Houston-Galveston Area Council
March 16, 2011

Image: ECO-LOGICAL logo

Slide 2: Acknowledgements

  • This material is based upon work supported by the Federal Highway Administration under Cooperative Agreement No. DTFH61-08-H-00011. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the Author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Federal Highway Administration.
  • Financial support was also provided by the National Association of Regional Councils, Galveston Bay Estuary Program, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Special thanks to Texas Forest Service and Texas Sea Grant/Texas Coastal Watershed Program.

Image: Logo of the Houston-Galveston Area Council

Slide 3: What is H-GAC?

  • Metropolitan Planning Organization for 8-county area
  • Occupies 9,020 square miles, larger than state of New Jersey (8,722 square miles)
  • Forecasted population of more than 9 million by 2035

Image: Map of the Houston-Galveston Area Council, showing the Council's eight counties

Slide 4: Project Need

  • Balancing growth and mobility needs
  • Lack of ecosystem approach to long-range planning

Image: Photograph of a patch of land jutting out into a creek
Image: Photograph of a swamp
Image: Photograph of four elevated concrete highway structures crisscrossing above a ground-level highway

Slide 5: Purpose of Eco-Logical

  • Decision support system for regional planning
  • Inventory of high value environmental resources
  • Data clearinghouse for organizations and the public

Image: Photograph of the sun streaming through half a dozen slender tree trunks in a swamp, with fresh green vegetation abounding
Image: Photograph of a large yellow and black spider and a baby spider in the center of a web with lush forest vegetation in the background
Image: Photograph of a rural field on a sunny day, with numerous patches of yellow wildflowers

Slide 6: Bridging Our Communities 2035

Image: Photograph of the cover of the Bridging Our Communities 2035: The 2035 Houston-Galveston Regional Transportation Plan document

Slide 7: RTP Conservation Areas of Concern

Image: Color-coded map of the Houston-Galveston Area Council, showing Current & Future Roads, Areas of Concern, Extended Areas of Concern, and Water

Slide 8: Project Process

  • Committee
  • Mapping
  • Metrics
  • GIS Integration
  • Outreach
  • Adoption

Image: Photograph of a lone tree in a swamp
Image: Photograph of a rural field overgrown with green and yellow grasses
Image: Photograph of a lush green field leading to a cluster of trees

Slide 9: Partners

Image: Logo of the US Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration
Image: Logo of Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC)
Image: Logo of Texas Forest Service
Image: Logo of Houston-Galveston Area Council
Image: Logo of Sea Grant Texas
Image: Logo of The Nature Conservancy
Image: Logo of Galveston Bay Estuary Program
Image: Logo of Texas Parks & Wildlife
Image: Logo of US Fish & Wildlife Service
Image: Logo of The Trust for Public Land

Slide 10: Ecotypes

  • Committee
  • Mapping
  • Metrics
  • GIS Integration
  • Outreach
  • Adoption

Image: Photograph of a lone tree in a swamp
Image: Photograph of a rural field overgrown with green and yellow grasses
Image: Photograph of a lush green field leading to a cluster of trees

Slide 11: Metrics

  • Adjacency
  • Size
  • Shape
  • Isolation
  • Threatened & Endangered Species

Three images that demonstrate the metrics above:
Image: Drawing labeled "Size", showing three circles of different sizes: small, medium, and large.
Image: Drawing of three pair of Habitat Patches with the top patch of each pair containing plants and wildlife: The first pair is separated; the lower patch does not have plants nor wildlife. The second pair is "connected" via two "stepping stones"; the lower patch has some plants and wildlife. The third pair is connected via a "corridor"; the lower patch is as lush and thriving as the upper patch.
Image: Drawing labeled "Shape", showing two different habitat shapes: two concentric circles with the center circle shaded (labeled "more interior habitat") and a thin rectangle with a toothpick-like shape shaded within (labeled "less interior habitat").

Slide 12: Intended Uses

  • Long-range transportation
  • Identifying conservation priorities
  • Scenario analysis
  • Public awareness

Image: Photograph of a swamp in a forest on a cloudy day

Slide 13: Project Limitations

  • Scale
  • Generalized ecotype classifications
  • Metrics, data limitations
  • Subjective quality rating
  • Not appropriate for site-specific evaluation

Image: Photograph of a swath of grassy reeds between two large tidal pools filled with clear blue water
Image: Photograph of a bird walking in a grassy field

Slide 14: Risks and Challenges

  • Scale
  • Generalized ecotype classifications
  • Metrics, data limitations
  • Subjective quality rating
  • Not appropriate for site-specific evaluation

Slide 15: Mapping

Image: Screenshot of a map of the H-GAC area generated by the Eco-Logical GIS tool, labeled "Mapping", color-coded by "Eco Types-Quality"

Slide 16:

Image: Screenshot of the map in the previous slide, with two overlays: a "Map Layers" listing and a "Map Legend" key

Slide 17: Cumulative Metrics

Image: Screenshot of a map of the H-GAC area generated by the Eco-Logical GIS tool, labeled "Cumulative Metrics", displaying the colors that show "Eco Types-Cumulative Metric Rankings"

Slide 18: Query

Image: Screenshot of a map of the H-GAC area generated by the Eco-Logical GIS tool, labeled "Query", with an "Eco Types: Weighted Queries" menu overlay

Slide 19:

Image: Screenshot of a zoomed in version of the map in the previous slide

Slide 20: Thank You

www.h-gac.com/community/livable/eco-logical/default.aspx

Amy Boyers
Sr. Environmental Planner
713.993.2441
amy.boyers@h-gac.com

Meredith Dang, AICP
Land Use Transportation Coordinator
713.993.2443
meredith.dang@h-gac.com

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North Carolina's Strategic Conservation Planning: Identifying Priorities for Conservation and Mitigation

Many of the slides in this presentation are branded with the "One North Carolina Naturally" logo.

Slide 1: North Carolina's Strategic Conservation Planning: Identifying Priorities for Conservation and Mitigation

Allison Weakley, Conservation Planner
NC Natural Heritage Program, NCDENR
March 16, 2011

Image: Photograph of a view of a river, framed by foliage from various trees, with a forested ridge beyond
Image: Photograph of a cluster of crowded townhouses
Image: Photograph of a river stream in the woods
Image: Photograph of a farmer on a tractor fertilizing rows of crops

Slide 2: NC Natural Heritage Program

The NCNHP inventories, catalogues, and supports conservation of the rarest and the most outstanding elements of the natural diversity of our state. These elements of natural diversity include those plants and animals which are so rare or the natural communities which are so significant that they merit special consideration as land-use decisions are made.

Image: Logo of North Carolina's Natural Heritage Program

Slide 3: One NC Naturally

Working together through conservation to map a healthy and prosperous future
www.onencnaturally.org

Slide 4: NC Conservation Planning Tool (CPT)

  • Identify, evaluate, and prioritize
    an interconnected network of essential ecosystem resources and functions essential for conservation statewide
  • Coordinate conservation efforts
  • Inform planning and funding decisions
  • Guide conservation efforts

Image: Photograph of a young snake poking its head up through fallen dried reeds
Image: Photograph of two flowering lady slipper plants against a forest floor background
Image: Photograph of a pink salamander on a moist rock

Slide 5:

Image: A screenshot of the Conservation Planning Tool home page on the One North Carolina Naturally web site

Slide 6:

Image: A screenshot of the Table of Contents of the Conservation Planning Tool's Detailed Report on the One North Carolina Naturally web site

Slide 7: Biodiversity/Wildlife Habitat Assessment

  • Prioritizes aquatic and terrestrial species and habitats
  • Considers landscape function and connectivity – core areas and connectors
  • Includes lands important for ecosystem processes

Image: Photograph of squirrel clinging to the bark of a tree
Image: Photograph of a small bird in someone's fingertips
Image: Photograph of a freshwater mussel
Image: Photograph of a brown and golden butterfly with its wings fully extended
Image: Photograph of a young snake poking its head up through fallen dried reeds

Slide 8: Open Space and Conservation Lands Map

  • Shows lands that are in permanent conservation and actively managed for conservation.
  • Includes both existing lands and planned lands – e.g., conservation easements, parks, trails, other recreation areas.

Image: Photograph of two hikers, loaded with gear, walking up a path through the woods

Slide 9: Forestry Lands Assessment

  • Prioritizes high value forestry lands that are important for sustaining the forest products sector of our economy and providing ecosystem services.
  • Considers threats to forestry lands by assessing risk from pests, disease, wildfire, and development.

Image: Photograph of a view looking up through trees that have bright yellow foliage with blue sky in the background

Slide 10: Farmland Assessment

  • Prioritizes viable and threatened agriculture lands.
  • Considers agriculture infrastructure, existing farm operations, and productivity and community compatibility.

Image: Aerial photograph of a winding river that is bordered by lush vegetation

Slide 11: Water Services Assessment

  • Prioritizes lands that are most critical to protect water resources for North Carolina's residents.
  • Considers water quality, water quantity, and water consumption.

Image: Photograph with a view of looking down a river through the woods on a sunny day

Slide 12: Marine and Estuarine Assessment

  • Considers Coastal Habitat Protection Plan (CHPP) priority areas.
  • Includes 6 fish habitats (oyster beds, submerged aquatic vegetation, hard and soft bottom, shell bottom, and riparian wetlands), spawning and nursery areas, water quality.

Image: Close-up photograph of a hand pulling a hooked fish by its mouth from the water

Slide 13: Essential Ecosystem Resources & Functions

Image: A chart of the North Carolina Planning Tool, which incorporates six essential ecosystem resources and functions: biodiversity/wildlife, water services, open space and conservation lands, marine/estuarine, farmland, and forestry. Within each resource area, the Planning Tool provides specific tools and mechanisms to preserve ecosystem functions.

Slide 14: Guiding Principles for Data Used in Assessments

  • Resource rarity & distinctiveness
  • Resource function
  • Data precision, accuracy, & completeness

Image: Photograph of a pink salamander on a moist rock

Slide 15: Biodiversity/Wildlife Habitat

  • Raster-based GIS analysis
  • Maximum score (10 point scale)
  • Relative ranking
  • Existing data & professional judgment

Image: Biodiversity/Wildlife Habitat Assessment map of North Carolina from the Conservation Planning Tool, shaded in various colors according to biodiversity level

Slide 16:

Individual Landscape Habitat Indicator Guilds (LHIGs) were mapped and ranked based on empirical data and spatially show core wildlife habitat areas and connectivity

Image: The Biodiversity/Wildlife Habitat Assessment Legend from the map in the preceding slide, detailing the color codes on the map
Image: A table of the Individual Input Layers from the map in the preceding slide

Slide 17: Piedmont Wet Hardwood and Mixed Forests

Core Area Rank = Observed/Expected = 12/14 birds+butterflies = 86% = A

Observed Indicator Species
Acronicta betulae
Acronicta rubricoma
Acronicta vinnula
Aix sponsa
Asterocampa celtis
Asterocampa clyton
Cisthene kentuckiensis
Enodia anthedon
Libytheana carinenta
Nerice bidentata
Oporornis formosus
Parapamea buffaloensis
Polygonia comma
Polygonia interrogationis
Protonotaria citrea
Satyrodes appalachia
Seiurus motacilla
Setophaga ruticilla

Image: Map of a section of North Carolina's coast that has coastal and river bank areas shaded in green; map is used as this slide's background
Image: Photograph of a Question Mark butterfly sitting on a leaf with its wings fully extended
Image: Photograph of a Northern Pearly-eye butterfly on the side of a tree trunk
Image: Photograph of a Prothonotary Warbler perched on a thin branch
Image: Photograph of a Kentucky Warbler standing on a rock
Image: Photograph of woods on a sunny day

Slide 18: Piedmont Wet-Mesic Hardwood and Mixed Forests

Core Area Rank = 11/12 vertebrates = A

Image: Same map as the previous slide, except that the shaded green areas have increased slightly; map is used as this slide's background
Image: Photograph of a Gray Petaltail dragonfly on the bark of a tree
Image: Photograph of a Barred Owl perched on a branch
Image: Photograph of a Four-toed Salamander in moist soil
Image: Photograph of woods with lush vegetation

Slide 19: Piedmont Dry-Wet Hardwood and Mixed Forests

Core Area Rank = 14/15 guild members = A

Image: Same map as the previous two slides, except that the shaded green areas have increased much more; map is used as this slide's background
Image: Photograph of a Scarlet Tanager sitting on a branch
Image: Photograph of an Eastern Box Turtle walking across dead leaves
Image: Photograph of a Marbled Salamander on a wet forest floor
Image: Photograph of woods on a sunny day

Slide 20: Sparsely Settled Mixed Habitats

Core Area Rank = 2/4 guild members = C

Image: Same map as the previous three slides, except that the shaded green areas are different; map is used as this slide's background
Image: Photograph of a Timber Rattlesnake
Image: Photograph of a Bobcat walking in a field
Image: Photograph of a rural dirt road through a field on a sunny day

Slide 21:

Final LHIG Score (per pixel) = ΣSRANK •Core Area Rank

Image: Same map as the previous three slides; the shaded green areas have been changed to yellow, orange, and red; map is used as this slide's background

Slide 22: Landscape Habitat Indicator Guilds mapped in North Carolina

Image: Map of North Carolina with shaded areas of yellow, orange, and red

Slide 23:

Image: Biodiversity/Wildlife Habitat Assessment map of North Carolina from the Conservation Planning Tool (CPT), shaded in various colors according to biodiversity level

Slide 24: The CPT and Infrastructure Projects

  • Map layers identify and prioritize important resources statewide.
  • Multiple layers can be used together or independently.
  • Maps and assessments support land use, conservation, mitigation and transportation planning and decision-making at various scales.

Image: Aerial photograph showing a number of highways, highway interchanges, and frontage roads

Slide 25:

Image: Similar map as in Slide 19's background, except major roads have been colored blue, red, and green; map is used as this slide's background; the images listed below are superimposed on the map and each has an arrow pointing to a location on the map
Image: Photograph of a bridge piling, partially obscured by a short, graffiti-covered concrete barrier
Image: Photograph of a roadway, showing a number of support pilings
Image: Photograph of a roadway and its support pilings adjacent to a swamp
Image: Photograph of four bridge pilings
Image: Photograph of two bridge pilings standing in water
Image: Photograph of three roadway pilings and the roadway support grid reflected in the clear, calm water below it
Image: Photograph, from a distance, of a roadway section traversing a stream, and two of its sets of roadway pilings

The map shows landscape connectivity and opportunities for protection and restoration of connectivity with respect to transportation planning.

Slide 26:

Image: Similar map as the previous slide's background image, except the map is zoomed in

The map shows landscape connectivity and opportunities for protection and restoration of connectivity with respect to transportation planning.

Slide 27:

Image: Map of the central third of North Carolina, with areas colored in yellow, orange, and red

The map shows landscape connectivity and opportunities for protection and restoration of connectivity with respect to transportation planning.

Slide 28:

Image: Map of North Carolina, with areas colored in yellow, orange, and red

The map shows landscape connectivity and opportunities for protection and restoration of connectivity with respect to transportation planning.

Slide 29: Some examples of the application and use of the CPT

  • Local land use and conservation plans (Towns of Benson, Boone, and Wilkesboro; City of Morganton; Anson, Chatham, and Pender counties, Centralina and Land of Sky Councils of Government)
  • Transportation plans (NCDOT - underway)
  • Identification of preservation and restoration sites for mitigation (NC Ecosystem Enhancement Program)
  • Grant applications (NC Department of Parks and Recreation, Natural Heritage and Clean Water Management Trust Funds)
  • Greenway and park planning (Jackson County)
  • Land acquisition (The Nature Conservancy, local land trusts)

Slide 30: Continuing implementation, updates and outreach

  • Update data and mapping every 6 months
  • Continue to improve mapping tool
  • Outreach to planning, resource and regulatory agencies, local governments, land trusts, and others

Image: Photograph of two flowering lady slipper plants against a forest floor background
Image: Photograph of a yellow wildflower, surrounded by green leaves
Image: Photograph, from above, of a system of water lily pads emanating from the center of the plant
Image: Photograph of a section of forest ground cover, showing healthy green mosses and ferns

Slide 31: Contact Information

Allison.Weakley@ncdenr.gov
(919) 715-8700
www.ncnhp.org
www.onencnaturally.org

Image: Photograph of a lush green forest
Image: Photograph of a rocky hill, with a forested hill in the background
Image: Photograph of a cluster of tall thin trees in a wheat-colored grassy field
Image: Photograph of a swamp area with many thin trees rising from the water
Image: Logo of North Carolina's Natural Heritage Program

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SHRP2 and ICOET Overview

Slide 1: SHRP 2 CO 6 A&B

Integration of Conservation, Highway Planning and Environmental Permitting Through Development of an Outcome-based Ecosystem Scale Approach and Corresponding Credit System

Integration of Conservation, Highway Planning, and Environmental Permitting Using an Outcome-based Ecosystem Approach

Image: The cover of the Eco-Logical: An Ecosystem Approach to Developing Infrastructure Projects document

Slide 2: SHRP 2 CO6 A

Opportunities to support multiple community goals and improve quality of life

Image: Graphic depicting Eco-Logical's Integrated Approach: Four rectangular layers, each with different graphics, are floated parallel one above the other. The top layer, Land Use System, has four irregular shaped, different-colored polygons. The second layer, Transportation System, has five irregular intersecting lines. The third layer, Water Resources System, has a blue-colored lake and river. The fourth layer, Other Natural/Cultural Resource Systems, has six irregular-shaped colored polygons. Below the layers is a gold oval, labeled Integrated Approach, that contains a rectangular layer that incorporates all the elements from the four floating layers.

Slide 3: SHRP 2 CO6 B

This slide contains a photomontage of the images listed.

Image: Drawing used to show how man's ecological footprint can be positive. A boot hovers over a footprint impression. The boot is overflowing with houses, buildings, vehicles, power lines, and smoke stacks as a plane flies above. In contrast, the footprint is organized into five neat, uncrowded sections: Energy land, Bio-productive sea, Bio-productive land, Built land, and Habitat land.
Image: Photograph of a line of traffic on a two-lane road
Image: Photograph of a loaded freighter docked beneath a freight loading system
Image: Photograph of a sunset over a mountain range
Image: Photograph of Seattle's Space Needle tower with city skyscrapers in the background
Image: Aerial photograph of a suburban home subdivision, showing the patterned layout of the roads
Image: Photograph of two men and a boy, with horses, out in a grassy field; a few cattle are grazing in the background

Slide 4: The 2011 International Conference on Ecology & Transportation

Seattle, Washington
August 21-25, 2011
The Westin Seattle

This slide contains a photomontage of the images listed.

Image: Logo of the International Conference on Ecology & Transportation (ICOET)
Image: Photograph of a group of people gathered at the bank of a whitewater stream
Image: Photograph of two people having a conversation in front of a grassy field and beyond that, green pine woods
Image: Photograph of a line of traffic on a two-lane road
Image: Photograph of a different view of the group of people gathered at the bank of a whitewater stream
Image: Photograph of a postcard for the ICOET, showing an aerial view of a cruise ship in the water in front of the Seattle skyline

Slide 5: Questions and Answers

  • Collecting and updating data
  • Prioritizing resources with partner agencies
  • Implementation
  • Examples of mitigation and transportation projects

Eco-Logical website:
www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/ecological/eco_entry.asp

Image: Photograph of a paved road, flanked by thick green forest, receding into the distance

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For questions or feedback on this subject, please contact Bethaney Bacher-Gresock at 202-366-4196.

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