Environmental Review Toolkit
Water, Wetlands, and Wildlife

Oregon Department of Transportation

Fish-Friendly Maintenance Practices

photo of series of small waterfalls/rapids
Alder Creek (Art Martin)
photo of a Coho salmon in shallow water
Resource protection maps keep maintenance activities from harming listed Coho salmon. (Art Martin)
photo of creek with stone bridge over it
Mulnomah Creek (Art Martin)

How do road maintenance crews know what sensitive fish species and other natural resources exist on a highway project? What's an easy way for them to learn about maintenance practices that will protect these species?

To answer these questions, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has developed a geographic information system-based sensitive resource inventory along nearly 6,000 miles of State highway. The ambitious project is part of ODOT's Salmon Resources and Sensitive Area Mapping Project - an effort to provide accurate resource-protection maps to highway maintenance crews so mowing, pesticide application, and other activities don't harm listed salmon species and other sensitive environmental resources.

The comprehensive resource inventory was developed by using color infrared digital imagery, current-knowledge databases from cooperating agencies, computer-modeled interactions between multiple data layers, and field verification.

Each resource map shows where sensitive resources are present in a tenth-of-a-mile segment. The ODOT has supplied these maps to all districts for biologists, planners, and maintenance managers to use. What's more, the Department has also supplied them with Restricted Activity Zone maps. These maps are simple, color-coded schemes indicating, for each major class of maintenance activity, whether or not that activity should be restricted along the left or right side of a given tenth-mile segment of highway.

The results? The ODOT's regional staff now have a detailed environmental inventory of ecological resources, making it easier for transportation decisionmakers to consider sensitive natural resource features when planning and designing highway system improvements. The maps have also proven to be a reliable, easy-to-update desktop scoping tool.

The maps were key to a formal agreement between ODOT and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries under which ODOT is allowed to perform routine road maintenance without having to consult with NOAA Fisheries. For approximately the same cost as field surveys, ODOT produced better-quality data that was less subject to individual interpretation and covered a much larger analysis area.

The ODOT is now developing an Internet-based application to enable wider desktop access to the information. The Department is also exploring real-time geographic positioning system connections to maintenance vehicles as well as studying pesticide spray booms to automatically activate and deactivate as needed and therefore avoid harming sensitive plants, streams, and other resources.

For more information visit www.odot.state.or.us/tdmappingpublic/sr_sam/index.html

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