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Chapter 1
Introduction and Research Approach
1.3. Scope of Study and Definition of Environmental Stewardship Practices

The oversight panel for this project discussed and rejected use of the more common terms "best practices" or "best management practices" for this project, in favor of the term "environmental stewardship practices." In this document, environmental stewardship practices address a broad range of practices, programs, and procedures designed to better care for the environment.

Whether they are called BMPs or environmental stewardship practices, practitioners faced with specific problems must always take into account the settings in which the practice is applied, and often tailor a more general practice to fit a specific context. Some practices are by necessity highly local, such as roadside vegetation management, while others, such as shop maintenance, can have greater consistency across organizations.

Practices are constantly evolving with technological improvements and regulatory changes. Also, what is considered "best" in one locale is not necessarily the most appropriate practice in another. By developing a compendium of practice, the panel sought to provide DOTs with a way to survey what is occurring at other agencies in their areas of interest at this point in time, and to expand opportunities to implement good ideas and process improvements appropriate for their own agencies and situations.

Chapter 2 of this report addresses environmental stewardship and its impact on state Departments of Transportation in its broadest sense - from strategic planning and policy setting to environmental management systems and performance audits. There are several key reasons for this foundation in environmental stewardship to be established as a prelude to addressing the detail of individual construction and maintenance practices covered in subsequent chapters:

  • The scope of work for this project wisely reflects the reality that the degree of commitment to environmental stewardship practices in construction and maintenance is rooted in the extent to which the organization's leadership, culture and policy framework have bought into environmental stewardship at a philosophical level. It is less likely that exemplary stewardship practices will be found among DOT staff and contractors without such an organization-wide commitment.
  • The linkage between what occurs on the front lines of work activity and the front office of policy making needs to be appreciated and understood by all who are involved and affected. Construction and maintenance staff and contractors are generally at home in an outdoor environment - both in their professional and their personal lives, and are perhaps more oriented toward environmental stewardship than we might think. However, they are chronically under-represented in the policy-making and planning activities of most agencies. It is particularly important that they have the benefit of understanding the environmental stewardship concept in its fullest context if they are to be significant contributors to its ultimate success.
  • Construction and maintenance is where dirt moves, structures are put up, and pavements are laid down. This is where the impacts really happen. Some DOTs have learned the hard way that having the environmental stewardship concept securely embraced among policy planners, senior managers and environmental staff does not guarantee that what happens in the field, on the jobsite, will be implementing the spirit or the letter of what was intended by policy or by planning and environmental commitments. It requires positive action facilitated by a durable linkage of communication and comprehension.
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Table of Contents
 
Chapter 1
Introduction and Research Approach
1.1 Problem Statement and Research Objectives
1.2 The Trend Toward Environmental Stewardship
1.3 Scope of Study and Definition of Environmental Stewardship Practices
1.4 Research Approach
1.5 Research Uses
1.6 Disclaimer/Limitation of Liability
   
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