Environmental Review Toolkit

Watersheds and Wetlands

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A watershed is an area defined by a common drainage endpoint. Land uses within each watershed directly affect their water quality and other environmental features. As a significant form of land use, transportation presents many potential threats to watersheds.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides resources on protecting watersheds and other water sources, including the Surf Your Watershed tool that provides lists of organizations working to protect local watersheds nationwide.

plus sign Wetlands and Aquatic Resources
minus sign Wetlands and Aquatic Resources

Wetlands are delicate natural resources that serve many functions. Not only do they provide habitat for aquatic species, but they also improve water quality and manage floodwaters.

The FHWA offers the following resources for minimizing and mitigating the impacts from transportation projects on wetlands:

5 Star Wetland and Urban Waters Restoration Grants – This program brings together students, conservation corps, other youth groups, citizen groups, corporations, landowners and government agencies to provide environmental education and training through projects that restore wetlands and streams. The program provides challenge grants, technical support and opportunities for information exchange to enable community-based restoration projects. Funding levels are modest, from $10,000 to $40,000, with $20,000 as the average amount awarded per project.

Results of the FHWA Domestic Scan of Successful Wetland Mitigation Programs, 2005 - Managing and mitigating wetlands impacts due to highway projects is a significant issue for FHWA and State DOTs. To help find out what kind of issues were most problematic, and to identify successful solutions that were being used, the Office of Environment and Planning conducted an interagency scan of wetland mitigation and impact management practices in eight States. There was a strong focus on mitigation banking, including what issues and solutions have been associated with the development of successful, workable wetland mitigation banks. Where banks were not being used, successful on-site mitigation projects were examined.

Executive Orders

Subject/Title Resource URL E.O. Number
Executive Order 12962 on Recreational Fisheries Executive Order 12962
Amendments to Executive Order 12962 Executive Order 12962
Executive Order 11988 on Floodplain Management Executive Order 11988
Executive Order 11990 on Protection of Wetlands Executive Order 11990


The National Highway Institute (NHI) offers the following courses in Water Quality and Stormwater Management:

Water Quality Management of Highway Runoff (FHWA-NHI-142047)
NHI offers this course to help transportation engineers and resource agencies identify and mitigate the impacts of highway runoff on water quality and ecosystems. This course intends to provide an adequate understanding of the water quality parameters and process and provide guidance to the transportation engineer in ways to protect water quality and integrate mitigation opportunities at the earliest possible stage in project development.

Upon completion of the course, participants will be able to:

  • identify and characterize the quantity and quality of highway runoff,
  • describe how runoff can affect ecosystems,
  • select a mitigation strategy from a watershed perspective,
  • describe design objectives and considerations in selecting and siting appropriate Best Management Practices (BMPs) for controlling highway runoff, and
  • will know the importance of BMP inspection, performance evaluation and monitoring.

Design and Implementation of Erosion and Sediment Control (FHWA-NHI-142054)
This NHI course is a joint effort between FHWA and EPA, and reflects the agencies' commitment to providing education and training for sediment and erosion control in transportation planning, design, implementation, enforcement, inspection, and maintenance. After completing the course, participants will be able to:

  • describe the components of an erosion and sediment control (ESC) plan,
  • list the sources of information for the ESC plan,
  • identify management practices and related management measures that are appropriate for typical situations and for a case example,
  • list typical construction and inspection problems,
  • describe both suitable prevention strategies and remedies for failure, and
  • link Federal and State environmental regulations to the components of the ESC plan.

FHWA also offers the following instructional recording on wetlands:

RIBITS Wetland Mitigation Tool - Live Demonstration
FHWA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) have produced an instructional recording for transportation users on how to use the Army Corps Regulatory In lieu fee and Bank Information Tracking System (RIBITS) to find mitigation credits for transportation projects. A version of this training was presented as a webinar in December of 2013. RIBITS is a web site that provides information on stream and wetland mitigation banks and in-lieu fee programs across the country. Users can access a wide range of information on wetland mitigation and endangered species conservation banks including the availability of mitigation credits, bank ledgers, service areas, and national and local policies and practices for the use of mitigation and conservation banks. Viewers of this demonstration will learn about:

  • Using RIBITS (Regulatory In lieu fee and Bank Information Tracking System) to determine if you can purchase mitigation credits for your transportation project.
  • Documentation for these mitigation banking or in-lieu fee programs.
  • New RIBITS features for transportation professionals.

The recording can be accessed at: https://connectdot.connectsolutions.com/p7dw3670scd/

plus sign Additional Resources
minus sign Additional Resources
Subject/Title Resource URL Agency
Association of State Wetland Managers Website N/A
Chesapeake Bay Watershed Program Webpage USFWS
Clean Water Action Plan: Wetlands Webpage EPA
Natural Resources Conservation Service: Wetlands Webpage USDA
Section 404 Compensatory Mitigation Webpage EPA
Society of Wetland Scientists Website N/A
Wetlands Research Technology Center Website USACE