Environmental Review Toolkit
Accelerating Project Delivery

Eco-Logical Webinar
Regional Ecosystem Frameworks (REFs): Illustrations on the Use of REFs at Multiple Scales

Wednesday, May 31, 2012
1:00 - 2:30 PM Eastern

Moderator:

  • Mike Ruth, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Project Development and Environmental Review

Presenters:

  • Karen Prentice, Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
  • Jimmy Kagan, Oregon Biodiversity Information Center, Institute of Natural Resources - Portland
  • Amy Boyers, Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC)

PDF Version [2.42 MB]


Table of Contents

FHWA Introduction of the Webinar and Overview of REFs as Part of the Eco-Logical Approach

BLM's Landscape Approach and Eco-Logical

Oregon's Willamette Basin and Statewide Regional Ecoregional Framework

Eco-Logical - An Interactive Decisionmaking Tool for Long-Range Transportation Planning

Questions

Introduction to FHWA's Transportation Liaison Community of Practice Website

Upcoming Webinar Topics


FHWA Introduction of the Webinar and Overview of REFs as Part of the Eco-Logical Approach

Slide 1: Regional Ecosystem Frameworks (REFs): Illustrations on the Use of REFs at Multiple Scales

Wednesday, May 31, 2012
1:00 - 2:30 PM Eastern

Presenters:

  • Karen Prentice, Bureau of Land Management
  • Jimmy Kagan, Oregon Biodiversity Information Center, Institute of Natural Resources - Portland
  • Amy Boyers, Houston-Galveston Area Council

Moderator:

  • Mike Ruth, FHWA Office of Project Development and Environmental Review

Volpe The National Transportation Systems Center

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: Photograph of a road winding around a bend of a steep, lush cliff. Photograph is from the cover of the 2010 Eco-Logical Grant Program Annual Report.

Slide 2: Regional Ecosystem Frameworks (REFs)

  • Originally described in Eco-Logical
  • A database of resources and scenarios with planning objectives and conservation criteria
  • Require collaboration in ensuring data are compatible
  • Engage a variety of stakeholders (representatives from local & State government, conservation, transportation, development, and planning organizations) to define, build, and maintain REF

Slide 3: Regional Ecosystem Frameworks (REFs)

  • Existing conservation priority plans (scientifically robust, defensible, well reviewed and accepted)
  • Individual priority resources not fully captured by existing priority areas
  • Regional resource retention goals
  • Resource viability requirements and responses to stressors
  • Scenarios of current and future stressors, protected areas, management, etc.

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BLM's Landscape Approach and Eco-Logical

Many of the slides in this presentation are branded with the logo of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, System of National Public Lands.

Slide 4: BLM's Landscape Approach and Eco-Logical

Karen Prentice, BLM, Healthy Landscapes Coordinator, kprentic@blm.gov, 202-912-7223

Image: Photograph of a brush fire
Image: Photograph of a Gunnison sage-grouse
Image: Photograph of a tortoise
Image: Photograph of an array of solar panels in a desert landscape

Slide 5: Vision for BLM's Landscape Approach

Vision for BLM's Landscape Approach
Develop business practices to manage resources and uses at multiple scales in the face of compounding stressors. These practices will help the BLM and partners identify what to sustain, at what scale, and the associated trade-offs.

Traditional Practice right arrow

Develop new business
practices to support this
transition

Frame the issue: Build
conceptual models with
conservation elements and
change agents.

right arrow
Landscape Approach
Project and Site Focused Landscape Focus
Stove piped Integrated
Tends to authorize uses and
mitigate ecological values
Considers ecological values
and use authorizations equally
Ecological Component (Individual Species) Ecological Function and Service

Slide 6: BLM's Landscape Approach

The Landscape Approach is based on management questions and an understanding of the system at each scale of interest. Here this understanding is represented by the blue circle and the scale is ecoregional.

Image: A diagram of the Landscape Approach consisting of a blue circle with four clockwise-pointing brown arrows on its edge. The center of the circle is labeled “Scale appropriate change agents & Science Integration.” Also within the circle are bi-directional arrows that point to four titles outside the circle: Scale Appropriate (Ecoregional) Assessments, Scale Appropriate Direction, Scale Appropriate Field Implementation, and Scale Appropriate Monitoring for Adaptive Mgmt.

Slide 7: Landscape Approach & Eco-Logical

Image: The Landscape Approach diagram from the previous slide with an additional outer green ring which has five boxes along it: Identify Management Plans and Management Questions; Integrate Plans, Establish and Prioritize Opportunities, and Document Agreements; Design Projects Consistent with Regional Ecosystem Framework; Balance Predictability and Adaptive Management; and Build and Strengthen Collaborative Partnerships.

Slide 8: Rapid Ecoregional Assessments Underway

  • 10 REAs initiated to date
  • 7 REAs covering more than 370 million acres will be completed in 2012
  • Negotiations in progress for additional REAs this year
Image: Map of the Western United States and Alaska, color-coded to highlight BLM Lands, REAs initiated in 2010, REAs initiated in 2011, and REAs 2012 Pre-Assessment.

Slide 9: Management Questions

Conservation Elements + Change Agents = Management Questions
 
EX: Species
Habitat
Soils
  EX: Invasive Species
Fire
Climate Change
Human Development
  EX: Where is intact sage-grouse
habitat threatened by climate change?
up arrow   up arrow   up arrow
“what we want to conserve”   “what is threatening our resources”   “what land managers need to know”

Slide 10: Understanding the System: Conceptual Models

Image: Flow diagram consisting of three boxes and two ovals. In the center is a large box labeled “Competition and Facilitation,” which has a box within it labeled “Conservation Elements & Stressor Interactions (Vegetation, Wildlife, Soil Resources, Soil-Plant-Water Interface).” In the upper left is an oval labeled “Change Agents” and in the upper right is an oval labeled “Regional Climatic and Atmospheric Conditions (seasonal regimes and temporal spatial variability).” There are unidirectional arrows between the ovals and bidirectional arrows between each of the ovals and the center box. Another arrow leaves the Change Agents oval and travels to a box in the lower right labeled “Landscapes.” The Landscapes box has an arrow to the large center box. Inside the Landscapes box are two terms, each with an arrow pointing to the other: spatial configuration and landscape dynamics. The last box, Watershed, has arrows pointing to the Landscapes box and to the center box. The Watershed box also has two terms, each with an arrow pointing to the other: hydrologic function and riparian vegetation.

Slide 11: Modeling Change Agents: Predicting Future status of conservation elements

Image: Flowchart that shows the contributing factors to potential climate change: potential summer temperature change, potential winter temperature change, potential for runoff change, potential precipitation change, and potential for vegetation change (which is circled).

Slide 12: Colorado Plateau: Potential for Vegetation Change

(L) Mapped Atmosphere-Plant-Soil System (MAPSS) results showing just the pixels that changed to different vegetation types between historic baseline (1968-1999) and 2045-2060 based on MAPSS modeling for the Colorado Plateau (CP) ecoregion. (R) Digital elevation model of CP.

Image: Map of the Colorado Plateau ecoregion color-coded to show the areas likely to change vegetation type during the time period from the historic baseline to 2045-2060.

Slide 13: Colorado Plateau: Potential for Climate Related Change by 2060

Image: A set of maps of the Colorado Plateau ecoregion. Each map displays the effect of one of the potential climate change factors from the flowchart in Slide 11.

Slide 14: Species Vulnerability to Climate Change

Image: Table of eight bird species vulnerable to climate change in the Colorado Plateau ecoregion: greater sage grouse, Gunnison sage-grouse, golden eagle, Mexican spotted owl, ferruginous hawk, burrowing owl, peregrine falcon, and yellow-breasted chat. Each bird listing includes a photograph and a vertical bar chart showing long term potential for climate change (very low through very high). The Gunnison sage-grouse listing is circled in red and its bar chart has the highest bar for very high (70%).

Slide 15: Gunnison Sage Grouse: Status and Future Vulnerability to Change Agents

MQ D6. Where is Gunnison sage-grouse vulnerable to change agents in the near-term horizon, 2025 (development, fire, invasive species) and long-term change horizon, 2060 (climate change)?

Image: Map of the Colorado Plateau ecoregion, labeled Near-Term Status, is color-coded to show the terrestrial intactness “clipped” to currently occupied habitat of the Gunnison sage-grouse.
Image: Map of the Colorado Plateau ecoregion, labeled Potential for Energy Development, is color-coded to show that some areas of currently occupied Gunnison sage-grouse habitat have high potential for energy development.
Image: Map of the Colorado Plateau ecoregion, labeled Potential for Climate Change, is color-coded to show that some areas of currently occupied Gunnison sage-grouse habitat have high potential for climate change.

Slide 16: Sample Design

  • Low-intensity, “extensive” national sampling effort
  • Higher-intensity, “intensive” local sampling effort (driven by local management questions)
Image: Diagram showing the relationship between national and local sample design. Five “Local Data/Local Question” boxes are at the bottom of the diagram: three have arrows pointing up to a “Regional Question” rectangle; two have arrows pointing up to a “National Question/Low-density National Data” rectangle. Arrows point back from the Low-density rectangle: two dashed arrows to the Local Data/Local Question rectangles; two solid arrows to the Regional Question rectangle.

Slide 17: Web Hosting is expected this Fiscal Year and will include:

Image: Diagram showing the elements that will comprise web hosting: Conceptual Models, Management Questions (Methods & Results), Process Models, Conservation Elements (Summary & Results), Attributes and Indicators Table, Main Report, Inserts for Conservation Elements and Change Agents, and Appendices.

Slide 18: Thank You

Image: The REA maps of Alaska and the western United States from Slide 8.

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Oregon's Willamette Basin and Statewide Regional Ecoregional Framework

Slide 19: Oregon's Willamette Basin and Statewide Regional Ecoregional Framework

Jimmy Kagan
Director, Institute for Natural Resources - Portland and Oregon Biodiversity Information Center

Image: Institute for Natural Resources logo
Image: Portland State University logo
Image: Oregon State University logo

Slide 20: Willamette Basin Regional Ecosystem Framework: Integrating the diverse set of Conservation Assessments

Image: Cover of the Restoring: A River of Life: The Willamette Restoration Strategy Overview document
Image: Cover of the Willamette River Basin Planning Atlas document
Image: Cover of the Willamette Valley-Puget Trough-Georgia Basin Ecoregional Assessment document
Image: Cover page from the Draft Willamette Subbasin Plan document
Image: Cover of the Recovery Plan for the Prairie Species of Western Oregon and Southwestern Washington document

Slide 21: (no title)

Image: Photograph of rolling hills, green with grass and trees
Image: Photograph of a flat wetland
Image: Photograph of a thick tree trunk in a forest with a smaller tree with pink flowers in the foreground
Image: Photograph of a small stream in the woods flanked by moss-covered stones

Slide 22: Willamette Basin Synthesis Project

A Collaborative Approach to Conservation Planning, Natural Resource Data Development, and to building a Regional Ecosystem Framework

  • Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Oregon Biodiversity Information Center
  • Oregon Parks & Recreation Department
  • Oregon Biodiversity Project
  • Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Willamette Partnership
  • Defenders of Wildlife
  • Clean Water Services
  • Metro

Slide 23: Willamette Synthesis Project: Developing a Regional Ecosystem Framework

  • The Nature Conservancy's Willamette Valley Ecoregional Assessment
  • The Pacific Northwest Ecosystem Research Consortium's Willamette River Basins Alternative Futures Project
  • Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's Comprehensive Conservation Strategy
  • Critical Habitat Designations and Recovery Plans for Willamette Valley fish, endemic plants and butterfly
  • The Wetlands Conservancy Priority Wetlands

Features from 5 major Willamette conservation assessments were combined into a ”Union Portfolio“

  • Site boundaries were refined using 2005 imagery and current spatial data for rare species, soils, vegetation, wetlands, land management, land use and zoning.
  • A few additional sites were added to incorporate good remnants of native habitats and species.
  • Initial project was completed in May of 2009. Regular review and updates are critical to keep this plan relevant. The first of those reviews is was completed in 2011, leading to an update to be completed in 2012.
Image: Color-coded map of the Willamette Valley ecoregion

Slide 24: Willamette Valley Wetlands: Historical Reconstruction and Current Mapping: Upper Tulatin River Example

Image: Monochromatic topographical map of the Willamette Valley ecoregion with some areas colored to show wetland classification. Map is labeled “Historic (Reconstruction).”
Image: Satellite image of the Willamette Valley with some areas colored to show wetland classification. Map is labeled “Current (National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) + Hillsboro, Cornelius, Forest Grove Local Wetland Inventory (LWI)).”

Maps are courtesy of The Wetlands Conservancy, March 2009

Slide 25: (no title)

Image: Photograph of three tall tree trunks
Image: Photograph of flat, grassy hills
Image: Photograph of a section of coastline edged by steep orange-colored cliffs
Image: Photograph of a sandy beach with a short grassy cliff in the background
Image: Photograph of a calm blue waterway winding through a grassy green wetland

Slide 26: Complete a Statewide Wetland Mitigation and Restoration Priority Coverage

Image: Hierarchy chart with “Wetland Priority” at the top, fed by five boxes: Conservation importance; Ecosystem service values; Wetland restoration, mitigation value; Existing wetland condition; and Landscape integrity. Conservation importance has six boxes under it: Distance to salmon habitat; Designated critical habitat; Wetland Special Area of Concern; Distance to spring; Habitat for, Proposed, Listed, Candidate or high ranked Species; and Important Migratory Bird Area. Ecosystem service values has five boxes under it: Distance to 303(d) stream; Floodplain (100-yr); {Groundwater supporting}; [Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Supporting]; and [Stormwater Supporting]. Wetland restoration, mitigation value has four boxes under it: Potential or Farmed Wetlands; Distance to wetland restoration area; Protected area; and Conservation priority. Existing wetland condition has eight boxes under it: [Floristic Quality Index]; Vegetation Condition; Bisected by canal; Farmed; Impacted Hydrology; Wetland size; Wetland neighborhood; and Vernal pool condition. Landscape integrity has two boxes below it: Fragmentation and Affected by roads.

Slide 27: Upper Deschutes River Basin Priorities for Two Themes

Image: Satellite image of the Upper Deschutes River Basin which is labeled “Ecosystems Services” and has some areas colored to show four gradients: highest value, high value, medium value, and low value.
Image: Satellite image of the Upper Deschutes River Basin which is labeled “Conservation Significance” and has some areas colored to show four gradients: highest significance, high significance, medium significance, and low significance.

Slide 28: Create statewide Section 7 review - Critical Habitat Maps; and statewide High Probability Distribution Maps for all Federally Listed Species

Sidalcea nelsoniana (Nelson's checkermallow)
Random Forest model based on U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) recovery rules, Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR) Digital Elevation Model (DEM) and updated data for a threatened species

Image: Topographical map with a grid overlay and colored areas
Image: Photograph of a Nelson's checkermallow plant with numerous buds and pink flowers

Slide 29: the Oregon Conservation Strategy - healthy habitats for wildlife and people

Image: The slide's background is a photograph of a sunny valley viewed from a grassy field atop a mountain.
Image: Photograph of a fox crouched among some rocks
Image: Photograph of an adult and two teenagers crouched in a field, transplanting a plant
Image: Photograph of a tree frog
Image: The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife logo

Slide 30: Columbia Plateau Ecoregion Example

Important Attributes

  • Habitats: grasslands; sagebrush; large tract of riparian
  • Species: sage sparrow (23% of habitat in ecoregion); grasshopper sparrow; burrowing owl; sagebrush lizard; WA ground squirrel
  • Important Bird Area
Image: Map of the Columbia Plateau ecoregion with roads colored red and some areas colored green. There is an inset map that is a close-up view of the area around the city of Hermiston, including Three Mile Falls Pool, the Umatilla River, and Cold Springs Reservoir.

Slide 31: Statewide Conservation Assessments

Image: Cover of The Oregon Conservation Strategy document
Image: Logo of the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board
Image: Cover of Oregon's Living Landscape; Strategies and Opportunities to Conserve Biodiversity
Image: Brochure from The Wetlands Conservancy entitled “Oregon's Greatest Wetlands”
Image: Cover of the Willamette Valley-Puget Trough-Georgia Basin Ecoregional Assessment document
Image: Logo of The Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds

Slide 32: Integrate into a First Iteration Statewide Regional Ecosystem Framework

Image: Map of Oregon, color-coded to show The Nature Conservancy Conservation Areas (green) and Oregon Department of Forestry and Wildlife Conservation Opportunity Areas (blue) as of 2012. The map shows that there are many overlaps between the two sets of areas.

Slide 33: Contact Information

Jimmy Kagan
Director, Institute for Natural Resources - Portland and Oregon Biodiversity Information Center
http://inr.oregonstate.edu
http://orbic.pdx.edu
jkagan@pdx.edu
503-725-9955
P.0. Box 751, Mail Stop: INR, Portland, OR 97207

Image: Institute for Natural Resources logo
Image: Portland State University logo
Image: Oregon State University logo

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Eco-Logical - An Interactive Decisionmaking Tool for Long-Range Transportation Planning

Slide 34: Eco-Logical

Amy Boyers
Community and Environmental Planning
05-31-2012

www.h-gac.com/go/eco-logical

Image: H-GAC logo
Image: H-GAC Eco-Logical logo

Slide 35: 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: Photograph of a coastal tidal pool with a lighthouse in the background
Image: Photograph of a calm pond in a forest

Slide 36: Purpose of Eco-Logical

  • Decision support system for long-range regional transportation 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 cypress 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 37: Project Process

  • Committee
  • Mapping
  • Metrics
  • GIS Integration
  • Outreach
Image: Photograph of a double-trunked cypress tree rising up from a calm, lily pad-covered pond on a sunny day
Image: Photograph of a flat, grassy field with a grove of trees along the horizon in the background
Image: Photograph of lush greenery at woods edge

Slide 38: Partners

Image: A collage of logos: United States Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (USDOT FHWA), Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC), Texas Forest Service (The Texas A&M University System), Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC), Sea Grant Texas, The Nature Conservancy, Galveston Bay Estuary Program, Texas Parks and Wildlife, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), and The Trust for Public Land.

Slide 39: Ecotypes

  • Tidal Wetlands
  • Bottomland Forests
  • Upland Forests
  • Coastal Prairies
  • Water Bodies
Image: Photograph, at dusk, through tall grass, of a lone fly fisherman in calm water
Image: Close-up photograph of an alligator's head
Image: Photograph of an orange and black butterfly, wings spread, on the top of the middle stalk of three wildflower stalks

Slide 40: Mapping

Image: Screenshot from the H-GAC Eco-Logical GIS Tool, showing a satellite map of the Houston-Galveston area, color-coded to show Eco Types, and a legend explaining the colors

Slide 41: Metrics

  • Adjacency
  • Size
  • Shape
  • Isolation
  • Threatened & Endangered Species
  • Scarcity
  • Diversity of Habitat
  • Quality
The three images below demonstrate the metrics listed above:
Image: Drawing labeled “Size,” showing three circles of different sizes: small, medium, and large.
Image: Drawing of three pairs 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 42: Intended uses

  • Long-range transportation
  • Identifying conservation priorities
  • Scenario analysis
  • Public awareness
Image: Photograph of cypress trees in a swamp

Slide 43: 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 44: Project Challenges

  • Having the right representatives on your committee
  • Determining appropriate scale of project
  • Time, staff and technical resources
  • Creating a work plan for the project
  • Having flexible methodology

Slide 45: Questions?

www.h-gac.com/go/eco-logical

Meredith Dang, AICP
meredith.dang@h-gac.com
713-993-2443

Amy Boyers
amy.boyers@h-gac.com
713-993-2441

Image: The slide's background is a photograph of a grassy path through a lush green forest.
Image: H-GAC logo

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Questions

Slide 46:

Image: Photograph of a dirt road, flanked by tall green grass and trees on both sides, receding into the horizon

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Introduction to FHWA's Transportation Liaison Community of Practice Website

Slide 47: Transportation Liaison Community of Practice Website

www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/liaisonCOP

Image: Screenshot of the Transportation Liaison Community of Practice website home page

Slide 48: Transportation Liaison Community of Practice Website

www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/liaisonCOP

Purpose:

  • Increase understanding of the roles and benefits of transportation liaisons
  • Provide greater access to and sharing of expertise, resources, and opportunities for innovation and professional development

Users:

  • Liaisons and liaison managers
  • Resource and regulatory agencies
    • Networking
    • Knowledge/resource exchange
    • Share events
  • State DOTs
    • Find information about Liaison programs
    • Example MOUs
    • Contacts and connections

Slide 49: Transportation Liaison Community of Practice (CoP) Website

www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/liaisonCOP

Join the Community of Practice!

  • Register on the CoP website if you are a liaison or liaison manager
  • Tell others who may be interested
  • Submit calendar events
  • Submit resources to the resource library including sample agreements, work plan examples, and technical resources
  • Participate in the discussion board — coming soon!

Questions? Contact Michael Lamprecht
Michael.Lamprecht@dot.gov or 202-366-6454.

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Upcoming Webinar Topics

Slide 50: Upcoming Eco-Logical Webinar Topics

June 2012: Green Infrastructure: Eco-Logical Concepts in Infrastructure Planning

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

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