Environmental Review Toolkit
Water, Wetlands, and Wildlife

Montana: Interagency Team for Ecological Enhancements for Montana (ITEEM) Process Development and Pilot Study Implementation

Figure 1 from the study document showing three color-coded maps of the study area and their legends

Figure 1. Map of the ITEEM Process Highway 83 Pilot Study Area
Source: Outcomes Report, Integrated Transportation and Ecological Enhancements for Montana (ITEEM) Process Highway 83 Pilot Study. Montana State Department of Transportation and PBS&J. June 2010

The Interagency Team for Ecological Enhancements for Montana (ITEEM) Process Development and Pilot Study Implementation is an early and innovative example of the Eco-Logical framework in action. Eco-Logical, established in 2006 by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and seven partner Federal agencies, encourages an ecosystem-based approach to the project delivery process as a way to support environmental stewardship and project streamlining.

The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) and its Federal, State, Tribal, and regulatory partners collectively established an interagency review team to develop guidance for the ITEEM process. The partnership identified seven goals for this process:

  • Conservation
  • Connectivity
  • Early Involvement
  • Cost Efficiency
  • Cooperation
  • Predictability
  • Transparency

The ITEEM process begins by determining boundaries and collecting data, followed by workshops and field visits to enhance partner and participant understanding of project issues and opportunities. Draft reports reflect the findings identified in these early stages and final reports contain detailed analyses and conclusions. The ITEEM application is an iterative process which constantly evaluates past performance in order to recognize lessons learned and propose future improvements.

Montana implemented the ITEEM process in 2008 as part of a pilot study on the Highway 83 corridor in the Seeley-Swan ecosystem. The pilot study confirms that the ITEEM process is successful in bringing about a streamlined project delivery process while effectively advancing environmental stewardship. The ITEEM approach also strengthens communications across agencies, promotes interagency partnerships, fosters trust and understanding, improves predictability, and enhances participants' understanding of how projects relate to ecosystems. The approach recognizes that successful and efficient project delivery often requires consistent staff attention, resources, stakeholder participation, clarity of objectives and expectations, and reliable funding sources.

The ITEEM pilot study demonstrates that with a structured process in place, environmental stewardship and project streamlining goals can both be achieved. By forming an interagency partnership that emphasizes steady progress and detailed analysis, the study shows that ITEEM is an effective application of Eco-Logical's core principals of integrated planning and performance measurement.

For more information, contact Brian Hasselbach, Federal Highway Administration, at brian.hasselbach@dot.gov, or Deborah Wambach, Montana Department of Transportation, at dwambach@mt.gov.

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