Environmental Review Toolkit
Accelerating Project Delivery
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1 Practice: Midwest Region Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Streamlining (December 21, 2000)
Category: Environmental Stewardship & Streamlining
State: Michigan
Organization: USEPA Region V
Contact: Ken Westlake
Title: Chief, NEPA Implementation Section
Email: westlake.kenneth@epa.gov
Phone: (312) 886-2910
Description: The undersigned agencies agree to work cooperatively to carry out the provisions of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) sets forth the goal, guiding principles and strategies for interagency coordination of the Federal-aid transportation planning and project development processes, consistent with TEA-21, the National Environmental Policy Act and other applicable environmental statutes and Executive Orders. This MOU is based on the Environmental Streamlining National Memorandum of Understanding and provides a framework for future interagency streamlining agreements or project level agreements within the states.
Last Updated: March 12, 2014
2 Practice: Southwest Region High Quality Wetland Preservation
Categories: Environmental Stewardship & Streamlining
Habitat/Ecosystem Connectivity & Conservation
Interagency Coordination
Mitigation
Watersheds & Wetlands
Wetlands
State: Michigan
Organization: Michigan Department of Transportation
Contact: Michael Pennington
Title: Wetland Mitigation Specialist
Email: penningtonm@michigan.gov
Phone:
Description: In 2003, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE), and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to restore two wetland fen habitats in southwest Michigan. In collaboration with local landowners, MDOT and partners worked jointly on preservation planning, implementation of management goals, and performing management activities to restore the wetlands at both sites.

The two wetland sites are the Blue Creek Fen in Berrien County, Michigan and the Paw Paw Prairie Fen in Van Buren County, Michigan. Both sites are in the Paw Paw River Watershed, which is part of the St. Joseph Watershed of southwest Michigan. MDOT purchased the sites in 2000 and 2005 to provide wetland preservation credit in the watershed.

MDOT's goal at both sites is to restore the fens natural ecosystem function. MDOT and TNC work to actively control invasive plants with herbicide, shrub and tree removal, and controlled burns. MDOT assisted with a controlled burn at the Paw Paw Prairie Fen in 2006 and 2009. The burns help to stimulate the region's native prairie landscape and enable growth of native wetland species. In 2009, MDOT removed shrubs at the Blue Creek Fen site. Currently, it plans to assist in a State land grant to conduct a controlled burn that will promote re-population of the endangered Mitchell's satyr butterfly from a nearby unmanaged site to the MDOT parcel.

Both sites serve as high quality wetlands and contain a variety of transitional habitat types required for the Mitchell's satyr butterfly. The adjacent uplands serve as a buffer from external threats. In 2011, MDOT will place a conservation easement on the wetlands and associated uplands at the Blue Creek Fen. This will allow MDOT to better manage the area surrounding the restoration site. The easement will help preserve water quality and natural hydrology and limit the amount of waste that gathers onsite. At the Paw Paw Prairie Fen, MDOT will place a conservation easement on the wetlands and work with TNC to continue to manage the adjacent uplands in accordance with the management plan.

One of the strengths of this partnership and restoration effort is the use of best available science to develop long-term management plans. In 2005, TNC wrote a management plan that incorporates the best available science for the Paw Paw site. In addition, FWS and TNC wrote a conservation strategy that emphasizes five key management practices for the Blue Creek Fen site. The fen, which contains the Mitchell's satyr butterfly, is one of the last remaining habitats for this endangered species. To protect this species and maintain its habitat, the plan emphasizes that the land manager should maintain critical ecological processes, develop ecological goals, minimize external threats, conserve evolutionary processes, and have the ability to manage adaptively.

The management of the sites will be led by MDOT, TNC, FWS, and DNRE. There will be a three-part environmental stewardship agreement between MDOT, TNC, and DNRE to ensure long-term management. The sites will provide MDOT with nine acres of wetland credit, which can be applied to future project impacts.

This unique partnership and use of best available science to preserve the two wetland sites already serves as an example to other habitat management initiatives in the State. The management agencies will continue to coordinate and jointly monitor the sites and native species to ensure the long-term restoration of the sites.
Last Updated: March 10, 2014
3 Practice: Protected Areas Program
Categories: Environmental Stewardship & Streamlining
Habitat/Ecosystem Connectivity & Conservation
Wildlife and Threatened & Endangered Species
State: Michigan
Organization: Michigan Department of Transportation
Contact: David Schuen
Title: Endangered Species Specialist
Email: Schuend@michigan.gov
Phone:
Description: The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) initiated the Protective Areas (PA) Program to improve environmental stewardship within the State. The program builds off of State and Federal law to enhance habitat and assist in Threatened/Endangered (T/E) species recovery, while meeting the transportation needs of the State.

MDOT initiated the PA Program 25 years ago in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (MDNRE), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Michigan Natural Features Inventory. The objectives of the PA Program are: to identify and delineate the location of T/E species; to protect T/E species and their habitats within MDOT right-of-way (ROW); and to communicate species and habitat protection measures throughout MDOT.

The PA Program uses manuals called “Redbooks” to organize and communicate the species location, species and community information, and management recommendations to all MDOT staff. A protective ranking index was used to filter the 498 known sites containing listed species within MDOT ROW. This index evaluated 18 factors, including: imperilment rank, sensitivity to management practices, site vulnerability, and landscape context. The highest ranked 100 sites were then selected and added into the existing PA Program, for a total of 125 sites statewide. These sites are concentrated in Michigan's high quality communities such as coastlines, wetlands, prairies, and oak savannahs. Together these sites encompass hundreds of miles along Michigan's highway system and serve to protect thousands of acres.

The Redbooks contain site maps, species and community information, and management recommendations for each site. MDOT staff use the Redbooks during the project planning, design, construction, and ongoing maintenance operations.

MDOT conducts regular performance measurements to assure the accuracy of the Redbooks. PA Program sites are field surveyed every five years by MDOT staff specialists to monitor the status of the species and their habitat. This allows them to determine how the species are responding to habitat management plans, evaluate potential threats to the site, and adapt the management strategy as needed to assure success of the site. This information is submitted annually to the MDNRE for compliance with MDOT's Endangered Species Permit.

MDOT's implementation of the PA Program has led to increased coordination with State and Federal regulatory agencies to ensure that management strategies are consistent with species recovery goals. The program has also led to a decrease in the number of species takes within MDOT ROW based on better communication and planning during all project phases. Lastly, the program creates a link between proposed projects and their adjacent PA Program sites, which leads to improved funding opportunities, species protection, and habitat management during construction.
Last Updated: March 10, 2014
4 Practice: Funding of State Positions
Category: Interagency Coordination
State: Michigan
Organization: Federal Highway Administration MI Division
Contact: David  Williams
Title: Environmental Program Manager
Email: David.Williams@fhwa.dot.gov
Phone: 517-702-1820
Description: The Michigan Department of Transportation currently funds 12 positions at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality with state funds. The positions are dedicated to reviewing transportation projects.
Related Documentation: PDFs/mi_mou.pdf
Last Updated: Last recorded update not available
5 Practice: Programmatic Agreement for Section 106
Categories: Historic
Interagency Coordination
Mitigation
State: Michigan
Organization: Federal Highway Administration MI Division
Contact: David  Williams
Title: Environmental Program Manager
Email: David.Williams@fhwa.dot.gov
Phone: 517-702-1820
Description: The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) signed a programmatic agreement in 1999 with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) that allows the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to delegate authority to MDOT to conduct historic and cultural inventories on a significant number of projects. The agreement builds efficiencies into routine project processing that can save three to six months. The agreement also cuts the workload of the SHPO by 90%, enabling the agency to review complex projects in a timely way.
Last Updated: Last recorded update not available
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