Environmental Review Toolkit
Accelerating Project Delivery

Eco-Logical Webinar
Intersections between Eco-Logical and PEL: FHWA Programs to Improve Environmental Outcomes

Wednesday, April 6, 2011
2:00 - 3:30 PM Eastern

Presenters

  • Gina Filosa, DOT Volpe Center
  • Bethaney Bacher-Gresock, Federal Highway Administration
  • Mary Gray, Federal Highway Administration
  • Tamara Cook, North Central Texas Council of Governments
  • Brad Calvert, Denver Regional Council of Governments

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

PDF Version [3.48 MB]


Table of Contents

Overview of Planning and Environment Linkages, Eco-Logical, and Related FHWA Programs

North Central Texas Regional Ecological Framework

Denver Regional Council of Governments Planning and Environment Linkages

Eco-Logical Webinar Series Announcements


Overview of Planning and Environment Linkages, Eco-Logical, and Related FHWA Programs

All the slides in this presentation contain two DOT logos in the lower right corner, one for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and one for the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA).

Slide 1: Intersections between Eco-Logical and PEL: FHWA Programs to Improve Environmental Outcomes

Wednesday, April 6, 2011
2:00 - 3:30 PM Eastern

Presenters

  • Gina Filosa, DOT Volpe Center
  • Bethaney Bacher-Gresock, Federal Highway Administration
  • Mary Gray, Federal Highway Administration
  • Tamara Cook, North Central Texas Council of Governments
  • Brad Calvert, Denver Regional Council of Governments

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

Image: Planning and Environment Linkages logo
Image: Cover of the Eco-Logical: An Ecosystem Approach to Developing Infrastructure Projects document

Slide 2: What We will be Presenting

  • Overview of the PEL Program
  • Overview of Eco-Logical
  • STARS Workshops/SHRP2
  • Applications of Eco-Logical and PEL:
    • North Central Texas Council of Governments
    • Denver Regional Council of Governments

Image: Planning and Environment Linkages logo
Image: Cover of the Eco-Logical: An Ecosystem Approach to Developing Infrastructure Projects document

Slide 3: What is PEL?

A FHWA PROGRAM promoting tools and resources,

-and -

An APPROACH to transportation decisionmaking

Image: The image shows a green arrow on the horizontal access, representing transportation agencies, resource agencies, and the public. The vertical access shows coordination activities, including data sharing, interagency coordination, and intra-agency coordination. These activities are woven together through PEL.

Slide 4: Elements of the PEL Approach

System-level Planning   →   Project-level Decisions

Image: Integrated planning, which is represented by the horizontal arrow in this graphic, involves using data and the planning outputs developed as part of environmental and land use planning. This is required. Linking planning and NEPA, represented by the vertical arrow, encourages utilizing the information, analysis, and products developed during the transportation planning process to inform the NEPA analysis. This is voluntary.

Slide 5: Benefits of the PEL Approach

  • Address complex environmental challenges early and avoid environmentally sensitive natural resources.
  • Design projects that meet mobility, environmental, and community needs.
  • Minimize duplication of efforts and data.
right arrow Improves
transportation
decision-making
and project
delivery
timeframes

Slide 6: PEL Program Activities

  • PEL 101 Training
  • STARS Workshops
  • PEL Questionnaire
  • Case Studies
  • A Guide to Measuring Progress in Linking Transportation Planning and Environmental Analysis
  • Corridor Planning Guidance

Slide 7: Additional Information on PEL

PEL Website:

http://environment.fhwa.dot.gov/integ/index.asp

Contacts:

Spencer Stevens
FHWA Office of Planning
Spencer.Stevens@dot.gov
(202) 366-1049

Gina Filosa
U.S. DOT / RITA / Volpe Center
Gina.Filosa@dot.gov
(617) 494-3452
Ruth Rentch
FHWA Office of Project Development and Environmental Review
Ruth.Rentch@dot.gov
(202) 366-2034

Gina Barberio
U.S. DOT / RITA / Volpe Center
Gina.Barberio@dot.gov
(617) 494-3571

Slide 8: Eco-Logical: An Ecosystem Approach to Developing Infrastructure Projects

  • Addresses challenges in planning for ecosystems and infrastructure:
    • Duplication of efforts
    • Uncertainty and lack of predictability
    • Results: piecemeal mitigation
  • Multiagency steering team convened in 2002
  • Eco-Logical published in 2006

Image: A row of US agency logos: Bureau of Land Management, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Transportation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Park Service, Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, and Fish and Wildlife Service

Slide 9: The Eco-Logical Approach

  • Predictability
  • Connectivity
  • Conservation
  • Transparency

Image: A circle composed of arrows shows relations between three components of the Eco-Logical approach. The Eco-Logical approach brings together agencies and the public to integrate their plans and arrive at a joint set of environmental priorities. Using these priorities, the agencies can avoid impacts and explore mitigation in areas of unavoidable impacts. Using defined performance measures, the agencies can then measure the success of mitigation and inform future iterations of the process.

Slide 10: Eight Steps of Integrated Eco-logical Planning

  • Build and Strengthen Collaborative Partnerships
  • Identify Management Plans
  • Integrate Plans
  • Assess Effects
  • Establish and Prioritize Opportunities
  • Document Agreements
  • Design Projects Consistent with Regional Ecosystem Framework
  • Balance Predictability and Adaptive Management

Image: Photograph of a winding road with lush green grass and trees on both sides
Photo courtesy of the Volpe Center

Slide 11: FHWA Eco-Logical Grant Program

Image: Map of the continental United States, with colored stars placed at the locations of Eco-Logical grant projects

Slide 12: FHWA Eco-Logical Activities

  • Signatory agency activities and Successes document
  • Webinar series
  • Integrated Transportation and Ecological Enhancements for Montana (ITEEM)

Image: Photograph of a calm lake nestled between forested hills
Highway 83 corridor in Montana. Photo courtesy of the Volpe Center.

Slide 13: Additional Information on Eco-Logical

Eco-Logical Website:

http://www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/ecological/eco_entry.asp

Contacts:

Mary Gray
FHWA Office of Project Development and Environmental Review
Mary.Gray@dot.gov
(360) 753-9487

Haley Peckett
U.S. DOT / RITA / Volpe Center
Haley.Peckett@dot.gov
(617) 494-2273
Mike Ruth
FHWA Office of Project Development and Environmental Review
Mike.Ruth@dot.gov
(202) 366-9509

Julianne Schwarzer
U.S. DOT / RITA / Volpe Center
Julianne.Schwarzer@dot.gov
(617) 494-3259

Slide 14: FHWA Outreach Initiatives

  • STARS Workshops
  • SHRP2
  • Every Day Counts

Image: Photograph of a calm lake nestled between forested hills
Highway 83 corridor in Montana. Photo courtesy of the Volpe Center.

Slide 15: STARS Workshops

Workshop objectives:

  • Data and Tools
  • Partnerships
  • Early Collaboration Strategies
  • Local Collaboration Opportunities

Image: STARS logo

Slide 16: STARS Workshops

Locations:

  • California
  • Mississippi
  • Kansas
  • Idaho
  • West Virginia (upcoming)
  • Montana (upcoming)

Image: STARS logo

Slide 17: Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP 2)

CO6A & CO6B

  • Integration of Conservation, Highway Planning and Environmental Permitting

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

Slide 18: C06 A & B Key Outcomes

  • C06A:
    1. Integrated Ecological Framework
    2. Agency specific integrated approach to conservation and transportation planning
  • C06B:
    1. Cumulative Effects and Alternatives Analysis
    2. Regulatory Assurances
    3. Ecosystem Crediting

Image: Graphic image a team of six tiny men assembling the pieces of a giant 3D apple puzzle

Slide 19: Every Day Counts

Goal: Shorten project delivery and improve environmental outcomes.

Toolkit includes:

  • Planning & Environment Linkages
  • Legal Sufficiency Enhancements
  • Expanding Use of Programmatic Agreements
  • Use of In-Lieu Fee and Mitigation Banking
  • Clarifying the Scope of Preliminary Design
  • Enhanced Technical Assistance on Ongoing EISs

Image: Every Day Counts logo

Slide 20: Relationship to FHWA Streamlining and Stewardship Programs

Time and cost savings:

  • Eliminating duplication
  • Ecosystem scale mitigation

Improves project delivery by linking planning and NEPA

  • Greater interagency collaboration
  • Minimal duplication of efforts
  • Stronger environmental outcomes

Image: Graphic showing Every Day Counts, Eco-Logical, and PEL connected to each other

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North Central Texas Regional Ecological Framework

Most of this presentation's slides contain a background image that is a faded version of the background image in Slide 1.

Slide 1: North Central Texas Regional Ecosystem Framework

Tamara Cook
Senior Transportation Planner
North Central Texas Council of Governments

Image: Photograph of Eagle Mountain Lake, Tarrant County, Texas, with lush green forest in the foreground and background
Image: North Central Texas Council of Governments logo

Slide 2: North Central Texas: A Growing Region

  • Approximately 10,000 Square Miles Metropolitan Planning Area
  • Forecast 50% growth from 2010 (6.5 M) to 2035 (9.8 M)
  • Increased demands on infrastructure (current and future)
  • Increased demands on natural resources
  • Importance of identifying key resources and evaluating the Green Infrastructure and the Grey Infrastructure
  • Demands on water resources will become increasingly important as the region grows and forms the foundation upon which the Regional Ecosystem Framework is being built

Image: Map of the twelve counties of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Planning Area

Slide 3: Regional Ecosystem Framework (REF)

  • An Inventory of Environmental Data that Provides a Framework for Assessing Potential Impacts of Infrastructure Projects
  • Based on 10 Vital Ecosystem Information Layers*
  • Assigns a Value to Each Subwatershed
VEIL LAYERS
Green Infrastructure
  • Wildlife habitat
  • Natural areas
  • Agricultural land
Water Quality and Flooding
  • Impaired water segments
  • Flood zones
  • Surface water quantity
  • Wetlands
Ecosystem Value**
  • Rarity
  • Diversity
  • Sustainability

* Data Source: EPA Region 6, Texas GRID data
** Regional Ecosystem Assessment Protocol is based on Ecoregion Analysis

Slide 4: Example: REF Wildlife Habitat Score

Image: Color-coded map of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Planning Area, plotting the five different levels of Wildlife Habitat Scores, from Less Quantity of Habitat to High Quantity of Habitat

Slide 5: Integrated Planning

  • Regional Screening Tool — Identifies relative importance of an individual subwatershed
  • Define Key Resources — 10 VEIL layers
  • Identify Potential for Impacts
  • Mitigation Opportunities — Potential to identify more valuable mitigation strategies
  • Supports Ecosystem-Approach to Mitigation

Image: Three different color-coded maps of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Planning Area

Slide 6: Initial Outcomes and Potential Benefits

Image: Graphic showing six outcomes/potential benefits of an Improved Transportation Decision-Making Process

Slide 7: Next Steps

  1. Complete Website that Offers Data
  2. Incorporate Data Updates
  3. Begin Coordination Efforts with Resource Agencies to Develop Ecosystem-Based Mitigation on Pilot Transportation Project
  4. Develop and Implement Regional Mitigation Program for Transportation Projects
  5. Develop Performance Measures
  6. Assess Potential to use for Cumulative Impacts Analysis

Slide 8: Questions & Contact

Tamara Cook, AICP
Senior Transportation Planner
North Central Texas Council of Governments
(817) 608-2395
tcook@nctcog.org

Special Thank You to EPA Region 6

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Denver Regional Council of Governments Planning and Environment Linkages

All the slides in this presentation have the Denver Regional Council of Governments logo and a row of seven photographs: a small group of people chatting on a sidewalk, a fountain in a public square, a five-story apartment building, bicyclists riding a paved path alongside a river, a transit bus at a bus depot, a block of storefronts, and a metal bridge over a multi-lane, divided highway.

Slide 1: Planning & Environment Linkages (PEL)

Brad Calvert, Senior Planner
Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG)

Slide 2: Elements of PEL Approach

Image: The image is the same as the one on Slide 4 of “Overview of Planning and Environment Linkages, Eco-Logical, and Related FHWA Programs,” with the inclusion of four human stick figures. The stick figures are labeled, “Plans,” “Art,” “Science,” and “Projects.”

Slide 3: Why PEL?

  • To make planning more effective...
    • Comprehensive look at all the factors
    • Broader basis to help determine which projects are priorities
    • Less backtracking during NEPA
  • To make agencies more effective...
    • Chance for resource agencies to shape vs. react
    • Create productive interagency relationships
    • Opportunities to cross-train staff

Slide 4: Building on past efforts

Strategic Transportation, Environmental Planning Process for Urbanizing Places (STEP UP)

  • Partnership between MPO, CDOT and federal agencies
  • Pilot environmental streamlining project
    • Identify environmental issues early
    • Early and continued involvement of resource agencies
    • Planning to improve implementation

Image: Screenshot from the STEP UP website, showing the name of a corridor project and the vision, goals, and strategies associated with that project

Slide 5: Building on past efforts

Transportation Environmental Resource Council

  • Formed in 2002 as forum to consider transportation decisions and environmental stewardship
  • 15 membership agencies
    • Collaboration during the earliest stages of planning
    • Attempting to always look ahead to next set of challenges

Image: Logos of the fifteen member agencies

Slide 6: Parker Road PEL Study

  • 2nd PEL corridor study
  • Major regional arterial that must balance regional mobility and local access
  • Bordered by large state park
  • Wetlands, historic properties and listed species
  • Long corridor and limited funding for improvements

Image: Map of Centennial, Colorado and the surrounding area, showing Cherry Creek State Park and a highlighted Parker Road

Slide 7: Parker Road PEL Matrix

  • Each resource agency individually briefed
  • Early consultation appreciated
  • Potential issues identified early in the process — opportunity to avoid vs. mitigate
  • Identified ‘check-in’ points in the planning process
  • Resource agencies recognize benefits
    • Less impact on resources
    • Early involvement equals less staff time needed in future
    • Better understanding of project can lead to joint mitigation

Slide 8: Parker Road PEL Matrix

Image: The Parker Road PEL Matrix, which lists the Summary Observations – Resource Agency Meetings on Parker Road PEL Study

Slide 9: Parker Road PEL Matrix

Lessons learned...

  • MUST have support and buy-in from resource agency upper-level management (TERC)
  • Helpful to work with agencies to create a ‘worst case scenario’
  • Document the conditions which would allow findings to flow directly into NEPA
  • Resources can change between PEL and NEPA
  • Each agency is different – important to think about consultation beyond the current planning effort

Slide 10: Sustaining PEL Approach

PEL Questionnaire

  • Developed by FHWA staff to help with transition to NEPA
  • Serves as a summary of the planning process
  • Helps planning staff understand the level of detail needed
  • Provides NEPA project staff with documentation
  • May extend the shelf life of the planning document

Image: A copy of page one of the Federal Highway Administration Planning/Environment Linkages Questionnaire document

Slide 11: Sustaining PEL Approach

PEL Partnering Agreement

  • 15 signatories – Signed in June 2009
  • Built on a strong foundation of interagency relationships
  • Purpose is to encourage the use of the PEL approach
  • Outlines benefits of PEL
    • Better information
    • Enhanced decision-making
    • Decisions documented
    • Agencies can determine course of action earlier

Image: A copy of page one of the Planning and Environment Linkages Partnering Agreement document

Slide 12: Ongoing Efforts and Next Steps

CDOT's Online PEL Decision Tool

  • Preliminary scoping tool
    • Helps prepare for study – what approach is needed
    • Can create a basic structure for a study
    • Differentiates between what you know and what you need to know

http://dtdapps.coloradodot.info/pel/home.aspx

Image: Two screenshots of the web-based Colorado DOT Planning and Environment Linkage Decision Tool

Slide 13: Ongoing Efforts and Next Steps

  • CDOT PEL Program Manager
  • Three new PEL studies set to begin in near future
  • Continue to refine guidance on how to plan in order to prepare for projects
  • Simplified Environmental Assessment for areas that have used PEL
  • Continue efforts to improve assessment of cumulative effects during PEL
  • TIP/RTP process to encourage PEL studies

Slide 14:

Brad Calvert, Senior Planner
Denver Regional Council of Governments
bcalvert@drcog.org
303.480.6839

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Eco-Logical Webinar Series Announcements

Slide 1: Eco-Logical Webinar Series Announcements

Please mark your calendars for the next webinar in the series:
Eco-Logical and Wildlife Connectivity: Concepts in Innovative Planning in Colorado
Tuesday, May 24
1:00 – 2:30 PM Eastern

Slides from the March 16 Eco-Logical Webinar are now available:
Using Eco-Logical to Identify Priorities for Conservation and Mitigation
www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/ecological/webinars/webinar_03162011.asp

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

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

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