skip to main content
Environmental Review Toolkit

Eco-Logical Webinar
Step 5 of the Integrated Eco-Logical Framework (IEF): Establish and Prioritize Ecological Actions

Tuesday, October 29, 2013
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM Eastern

Presenter: Norris Dodd, Arizona DOT
Presenter: Carolyn Campbell, Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection

PDF Version [3.21 MB]

One-Page Webinar Summary: HTML and PDF [340kB]

Table of Contents

Arizona DOT

Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection

Arizona DOT

Slide 1: A Decade of Proactive Progress in Resolving Highway-Wildlife Conflicts

10 Years of Progress

Norris Dodd, ADOT Environmental Services
Wildlife Connectivity Program Coordinator

Image: Photograph of a deer standing in the right lane of a road as cars approach in the opposite lane
Image: Photograph of a recently constructed wildlife access underneath two bridge spans
Image: Slide background is a photograph of a two-lane road with a dynamic message sign on the right shoulder, whose message, “Caution: Elk Crossing” has been edited by an overlay of the following text: “10 Years of Progress”

Slide 2: Evolution of AZ Wildlife-Highway Program

“Missing in Action” ca. 2000

  • Landmark assessment of states' road ecology activities and strategies
  • Arizona did not participate, giving the impression that little was going on, while…

Image: Cover of the National Cooperative Highway Research Program's (NCHRP) Sysnthesis 305 document: Interaction Between Roadways and Wildlife Ecology: A Synthesis of Highway Practice

Slide 3: Evolution of AZ Wildlife-Highway Program

Transitioning Into the “Road Ecology Era”
Planning the State Route 260 Project - ca. 2000

Reconstruction alternative selection and NEPA driven by the wildlife-vehicle collision issue and highway connectivity

Image: Photograph of a pickup truck that has a smashed engine compartment and a crumpled hood
Image: Slide background is of a dead deer on the side of a road as a semi-trailer truck drives past

Slide 4: State Route 260 Project

Planned Wildlife Underpasses & Bridges
28-km (17-mile) Stretch

  • Underpasses (11)
  • Bridges (6)

Image: Map of State Highway 260 Elk Study Area, marked with yellow dots for underpass locations and red dots for bridge locations

Slide 5: Evolution of AZ Wildlife-Highway Program

Heydey of the “Big Project” Era (2000-2013)

  • US Highway 93 (2002-2010)
    • 3 overpasses and 3 large bridges
  • State Route 68 (2000-2002)
    • 3 wildlife underpasses
  • State Route 260 (2000-2013)
    • 11 wildlife underpasses and 6 bridges

Image: Photograph of the construction of a wildlife underpass underneath a recently constructed overpass, cut into the shape of the state of Arizona and marked with three red dots that show the locations of the three project phases listed above
Image: Photograph of an overpass/underpass under construction
Image: Photograph of a pair of overpasses without a wildlife underpass
Image: Photograph of a recently constructed wildlife underpass underneath a pair of overpasses
Image: Slide background is a photograph of an overpass under construction

Slide 6: Cementing a Commitment to Wildlife-Highway Conflict Resolution: Legal Challenges

Booth v. State of Arizona Case - 2003

  • 1998 collision with dead elk on I-40
  • Trial in Pima County
  • Jury awarded $4 million judgment for “negligence” - state should have better alerted motorists to risk (e.g., more signage)
  • Upheld on appeal in 2004

Image: Photograph of an Arizona Interstate 40 sign.
Image: Image of the front page from the trial judgment mentioned above
Image: Photograph of the Arizona State Courthouse

Slide 7: Cementing a Commitment to Wildlife-Highway Conflict Resolution: Legal Challenges

Booth v. State of Arizona Case - 2012

  • 2008 collision with dead elk on SR 260 (by a motorcycle)
  • Trial in Gila County
  • Jury rejected plaintiff's claims of negligence by the State
  • Successful defense relied heavily on 10 years of progress in addressing wildlife collisions & connectivity

Image: Image of the front page from the trial judgment mentioned above.
Image: Photograph of the Arizona State Courthouse

Slide 8: Evolution of AZ Wildlife-Highway Program

Explosion of Projects and Research

  • Wildlife Highway Connectivity Construction
  • ADOT-funded AZ Game & Fish Research Projects
  • ADOT Wildlife-Vehicle Collision Reduction Studies

Image: Photograph of a wildlife underpass under construction, cut into the shape of the state of Arizona, marked with sixteen red dots (Wildlife Highway Connectivity Construction), fourteen yellow dots (ADOT-funded AZ Game & Fish Research Projects), and four green dots (ADOT Wildlife-Vehicle Collision Reduction Studies)

Slide 9: Planning For Statewide Connectivity

Arizona's Wildlife Linkage Assessment - 2004

  • Landmark effort with ADOT/FHWA leadership
  • Identified 152 linkages
  • For inclusion in ADOT short- and long-range STIPs

Image: Map of Arizona, labeled with Wildlife Linkages and color-coded to show Potential Link Zones, Habitat Blocks, and Fracture Zones
Image: A horizontal strip containing the following agency logos: ADOT, Arizona Game and Fish Department, US Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management, Northern Arizona University School of Forestry, Sky Island Alliance, USDOT FHWA, US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Wildlands Project

Slide 10: Planning For Statewide Connectivity

Image: A map that shows habitat linkages between public lands near Flagstaff, AZ. Three linkages are prominent, and cross Interstate 40 between the San Francisco Peaks Wildland Block and the Mogollon Rim Wildland block.
Image: A map that shows the location of a series of urban wildlife crossings on Arizona State Route 77 in Tucson, AZ. The crossings are located where State Route 77 runs between the Santa Catalina Wildland Block and another urban habitat area.

Slide 11: Commitment to Highway-Wildlife Research

ADOT has funded cooperative Arizona Game & Fish Department research since 2001:

  • ADOT Arizona Research Center
    • 20 separate research projects - 11 highways
    • Research on 2 highways long term (<10 years), under scientific experimental design (SR 260 and US 93)
  • ADOT Multimodal Planning
    • Installed Automatic Traffic Counters on 8 highways

Image: Background photograph of an official studying the body of an animal struck in a vehicle collision
Image: Photograph of a roadside sensor that monitors wildlife crossing activity and alerts drivers. A truck is shown moving through the sensor.

Slide 12: Commitment to Highway-Wildlife Research

Research focused on 3 areas:

  • Effectiveness monitoring of wildlife measures
    • Support for adaptive management for continuous improvement
    • 4 highways
  • Data-driven recommendations for passage structures and fencing on future projects
    • 7 highways
    • 38 underpasses, 15 overpasses, 237 km (146 mi)ungulate fence
  • Understanding of complex ecological relationships

Image: Photograph of two naturalists examining a captive wild deer

Slide 13: ADOT's Environmental Stewardship Role

US 89 Pronghorn Study (2005)

  • First commitment by ADOT to a connectivity project without a wildlife-vehicle collision issue
  • US 89 a near-total barrier to pronghorn passage (only 2 of 37 crossed)

No pronghorn-vehicle collisions in 20 years

Image: A map of GPS telemetry locations along an Arizona road corridor. Obtained locations for each dear are shown in different colors. The map shows that the road prevents deer from accessing habitat on the other side of the corridor.
Image: Photograph of a naturalist studying a pronghorn in a snowy area

Slide 14: ADOT's Environmental Stewardship Role

Image: A map of an Arizona road that shows the frequency of pronghorn approaches to the corridor. There is a clear high point for approaches, and this is highlighted as the best location for a future wildlife passage structure.
Image: Computer-generated image of a possible wildlife passage structure for the location shown in the map described above

Slide 15: Priorities For Addressing Wildlife-Highway Conflicts

  • Highway with combined significant safety & connectivitiy issues - 1,240 km
  • Highway reconstruction completed since 2002 - 75km (6%)
  • Highway planned for future reconstruction - 400km (32%)

Retrofitting constitutes a viable alternative to limited highway reconstruction

Image: Arizona's Wildlife Linkages map from Slide 9 with an arrow pointing to the image described next
Image: Photograph of a mid-size four-door sedan damaged from a front-end collision

Slide 16: Shifting Focus to Retrofitting

Underscore the importance of comprehensive regional conservation planning in Pima County and funding through its Regional Transportation Authority which is partnering with ADOT in the wildlife elements of the SR 77 and SR 86 widening projects

Image: Two photographs of hilly desert wilderness dotted with cactus
Image: Cover of the Kitt Peak Linkage Wildlife Crossings Report document

Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection

Slide 17: Visionary Conservation Planning and Community Support Bring $45 Million in Assured Funding to Wildlife Linkage Infrastructure in Pima County, Arizona

Carolyn Campbell, Executive Director
Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection

Image: Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection logo

Slide 18: Pima County Arizona

Image: Map of Arizona counties with Pima County highlighted

Slide 19: Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan

  • Originated with ESA listing of cactus ferruginous pygmy owl in 1997
  • Vision and goals adopted by Pima County in 1998
  • Base future land-use planning on science
  • Six Main Elements
    • Habitat, Biological, and Ecological Corridors
    • Critical and Sensitive Habitat
    • Riparian Restoration
    • Cultural and Historical Preservation
    • Mountain Parks
    • Ranch Conservation

Image: Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection logo

Slide 20: Open Space and Habitat Preservation

Pima County voters approved a $174.3 million bond package for open space in 2004

A new open space bond, totaling at least $120 million, is under development for 2014

Image: Photograph by Bob Wenrick of a lush desert field with patches of yellow wildflowers, cactus, and lush green mountains in the background

Slide 21: Vision for the future - existing Pima County open space with future Habitat Protection Priorities

Image: A map of open space in Pima County. Existing protected land is shown in light green. A smaller amount of planned future protected land is shown in dark green.

Slide 22: Regional Transportation Authority Plan

  • State law passed in 2003 allowing the Pima County RTA to develop a plan and levy a sales tax
  • Requires all 9 local jurisdictions to work cooperatively on transportation projects throughout region
  • 35-member Citizens' Advisory Committee helped develop plan over 10 months, starting in 2004
  • Public outreach and education to voters
  • Final plan - $45 million for wildlife linkage projects
  • Approved by voters in 2006 with 66% of vote
  • Funded by ½-cent sales tax over 20 years
  • Working Groups formed to oversee various elements

Image: Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection logo

Slide 23: RTA Wildlife Linkages

  • $45 million over 20 years
  • Wildlife Linkages Working Group created to review funding proposals and guide fund disbursement
  • Only local jurisdictions and state agencies (ADOT and AZGFD) can receive funding
  • Series of higher-level committees, including RTA Board, must also approve proposals

Image: Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection logo

Slide 24: Wildlife Linkages Research

  • Sonoran Desert culvert and fencing design
  • Roadkill surveys to guide crossing placement on multiple roadways
  • Pre- and post-construction monitoring
    • Ongoing challenge to convince higher level RTA committees to approve
  • Pima County Wildlife Linkages Assessment

Image: Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection logo

Slide 25: Wildlife Crossings

  • State Route 77 - one large underpass and one large overpass, with fencing
  • State Route 86 - two large underpasses and one large overpass (needs future approval), with fencing
  • Underpasses along smaller regional roadways
    • Typically built during road widening projects
  • Bridges and bat habitat

Image: Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection logo

Slide 26: RTA Projects

Image: Google map of the greater Tucson, Arizona area with nine blue pins showing the locations of RTA Construction Projects and three fuchsia pins showing the locations of RTA Research Projects

Slide 27: State Route 77 Overview

  • Major barrier to wildlife movement between the Santa Catalina and Tortolita Mountains
  • Original proposal was for two underpasses and one overpass
    • Southernmost underpass dropped from project in 2012 to utilize 2 already-constructed large underpasses with added fencing
  • $8.2 million approved in 2009
  • Additional $3.1 million approved in 2012
  • Technical Advisory Committee has advised ADOT on crossing & fencing design and adjacent land use issues

Image: Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection logo

Slide 28: Aerial view of SR77 wildlife overpass looking west at Tortolita Mountains

Image: Map of a section of State Route 77 marked with the location of a wildlife overpass and the location of a wildlife underpass
Image: Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection logo
Image: Slide background is an aerial photograph of the State Route 77 wildlife overpass

Slide 29: State Route 77 Challenges

  • Complex adjacent land ownership
  • Permanent protection of nearby State Trust Land, a critical piece of the wildlife linkage
  • Funding of pre- and post-construction monitoring
  • Establishing responsibility for future maintenance of crossings and fencing
  • Managing stakeholders, partnerships, and public input

Image: Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection logo

Slide 30: State Route 77 – Looking Forward

  • Integrated into State Route 77 road widening project - 4 lanes widened to 6 divided lanes
  • Construction beginning in late 2013
  • Constructed by ADOT
  • Still seeking funding for more robust post-construction monitoring

Image: Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection logo

Back to top