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Recent Developments Archive

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WSDOT Report Highlights Program to Reduce Aquatic Life Impacts from Roadway Maintenance

The Washington State Department of Transportation has published its annual report on accomplishments of the Chronic Environmental Deficiencies (CED) program, which was established in 2001 in partnership with the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife to implement long-term solutions that reduce the impacts of repetitive highway maintenance activities to fish and fish habitat. Goals of the CED program include reducing maintenance costs and road closures; reducing or removing materials damaging to aquatic habitat, such as riprap; and reducing or replacing riprap with rough woody structures and other bioengineered designs that enhance fish habitat, such as engineered logjams. The report describes the process of developing and prioritizing a CED project and summarizes current CED projects by region. For more information, link to the WSDOT Chronic Environmental Deficiencies Program 2010 Annual Report and to the CED Program website. (12-16-10)

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FHWA Newsletter Highlights 2010 Exemplary Ecosystem Initiatives

The December 2010 issues of the Federal Highway Administration’s Successes in Stewardship newsletter showcases the recipients of FHWA’s 2010 awards recognizing exemplary ecosystem initiatives by state transportation agencies across the country. The program annually honors ecosystem conservation and habitat restoration projects that are “unique or unusual in scale, use innovative science or technology, incorporate high-level environmental standards, achieve high-quality results, and serve as a valuable resource for environmental agencies and public interest groups.” The 2010 awards recognize seven wetland-mitigation and habitat-restoration projects that feature multiagency collaboration and the application of conservation and restoration principles. For more information, link to Successes in Stewardship December 2010 - FHWA 2010 Exemplary Initiatives: A Showcase for Conservation and Restoration Projects. (12-9-10)

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Finalists Selected for International Wildlife Crossing Design Competition

The ARC International Wildlife Crossing Infrastructure Design Competition has announced the selection of five finalists for an innovative wildlife crossing structure at West Vail Pass, on the I-70 corridor in Colorado. The competition, launched by the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University and the Woodcock Foundation in New York City, sought designs that were “feasible, buildable, context-sensitive, and compelling design solutions for safe, efficient, cost-effective, and ecologically responsive wildlife crossings.” The competition jury will select a winning design to serve as a model for the “next generation” of wildlife crossings that can provide for both the movement and protection of wildlife and the free flow of traffic and people. The winning design team will be announced at the Transportation Research Board’s 90th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 23, 2011. For more information, including a details of the finalist designs, link to the ARC press release. (11-29-10)

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FWS Requests Proposals from States for 2011 Endangered Species Grants

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is soliciting proposals from states and U.S. territories for grants to support conservation planning activities and habitat acquisition for federally protected species. For fiscal year 2011, President Obama’s budget request includes $85 million in funding for grants under the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund. FWS is requesting proposals for three categories of grants: recovery land acquisition grants, habitat conservation planning (HCP) assistance grants, and HCP land acquisition grants. Also, for the first time FWS will consider climate change when evaluating proposals for grants. Proposals must be submitted to FWS regional offices by Jan. 18, 2011. For more information, link to the news release and to the FWS Endangered Species Grants website. (11-16-10)

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FWS Issues Annual Update to the List of Candidate Species under ESA

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released its Candidate Notice of Review, an annual appraisal of the candidate species list detailing those plants or animals that may warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The latest update includes the removal of one species from the candidate list, the addition of five species to the list, and changes in priority for four species since the last review was conducted in November 2009. There now are 251 species recognized by the Service as candidates for protection under ESA. FWS is soliciting public comment and additional information on candidate species, as well as information about species that should be included in future candidate updates. For more information link to the news release and the Endangered Species Program website. (11-9-10)

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FHWA Issues Circular on Aquatic Organism Passage Design for Culverts

The Federal Highway Administration has issued a circular that provides a stream simulation design procedure, methods and best practices for designing culverts to facilitate aquatic organism passage. The goal of the circular is to incorporate current geomorphic-based design approaches, while providing a procedure based on quantitative best practices. The document provides a context for stream crossing design and describes the applicability of the design procedure. For more information, link to Culvert Design for Aquatic Organism Passage, Hydraulic Engineering Circular Number 26. (10-21-10)

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Army Corps Releases Online Resource for Ecosystem Restoration Modeling

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works Program has developed a website that provides information on ecosystem restoration planning models and software. The Ecosystem Restoration Planning Center of Expertise Model Library allows users to search by the model’s title and restoration type to access information about each model's scope and geographic range of applicability, availability of documentation, points of contact, and review status relative to USACE requirements for model quality assurance review. The library also allows users to propose model entries that might be of interest or practical use to other practitioners. For more information, link to the Ecosystem Restoration Model Library. (10-12-10)

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Missouri Transportation Agency Recognized for Innovative Stream Restoration Projects

The Missouri Department of Transportation has adopted an innovative stream mitigation technique for several restoration projects on the Little Niangua River in Camden County. The new approach involves the modification of low-water crossing structures to allow for increased water flow and improved fish migration, particularly for the federally threatened species, the Niangua Darter. These habitat enhancement projects generate stream compensation credits for MoDOT to offset impacts from highway construction projects. Other benefits of the new approach, which was developed in collaboration with state and federal resource and regulatory agencies, include reduced project completion times and costs, streamlining of the permitting process, and improved safety through reduced flooding. MoDOT’s low-water crossing projects have been recognized by FHWA with a 2010 Environmental Excellence Award. For more information, link to MoDOTs Stream Mitigation – Low Water Crossing Retrofits webpage. (10-6-10)

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TRB ADC30 Committee Posts Summer 2010 Newsletter

The Transportation Research Board’s Committee on Ecology and Transportation (ADC30) has published its Summer 2010 newsletter, including articles on the use of press-in pile drivers to reduce construction noise impacts to wildlife, the International Wildlife Crossing Infrastructure Design Competition, and threatened species habitat management along the Maryland Route 30 bypass in Hampstead, Md. For more information, link to the ADC30 Summer 2010 Newsletter. (9-22-10)

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University of California Researchers Develop Online Roadkill Mapping Database

The Road Ecology Center at the University of California, Davis has released a report documenting the first year of a statewide effort to survey and map roadkill in California, with more than 250 citizen observers recording over 6,000 observations of roadkill as of August 2010. UC Davis researchers also developed an online mapping database, the California Roadkill Observation System (CROS), to allow citizens to record their observations of roadkill, including where wildlife-vehicle collisions occur, the types of animals involved, and the kinds of roads where collisions are frequent. The researchers intend to use the data to create geographic information systems and statistical modeling to predict road-kill hotspots, measure the contributing factors to road-kill, quantify impacts, and estimate benefits of different remedial actions. A similar roadkill mapping website was developed in collaboration with wildlife advocates in Maine, the Maine Audubon Wildlife Road Watch. For more information, including the CROS first-year performance report, link to the research findings on the UC Davis website and to www.wildlifecrossing.net. (9-15-10)

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2011 ICOET Conference Scheduled for August 2011

The 2011 International Conference on Ecology and Transportation (ICOET) will be held Aug. 21-25, 2011, in Seattle. ICOET is designed to serve as a forum for international experts in the field of transportation development, related scientific study, and administrative processes to enhance both the project development process and the ecological sustainability of transportation systems. For more information, link to the ICOET 2011 website. (8-26-10)

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Washington State Transportation, Wildlife Agencies Partner on Wildlife Fence Project

The Washington State Department of Transportation and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife have partnered on a project to construct a wildlife fence on a section of the US 97A corridor in Chelan County, Wash., to reduce vehicle-wildlife collisions with bighorn sheep and mule deer. As part of the project, WSDOT consulted with wildlife experts on research into the bighorn sheep’s habits, leading to several innovative design elements that address the sheep’s’ unique ability to climb steep terrain. New features include installation of the eight-foot tall fence on relatively flat terrain between natural barriers such as high cliffs; use of camouflaged, one-way push gates allow wildlife caught on the highway side of the fence to escape; and use of 16-foot wide wildlife “cattle guards” to allow property owner access. For more information, link to WSDOT’s Quarterly Environmental Highlight on the US 97A Wildlife Fence Project and to the project website. (8-18-10)

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Northeastern Transportation and Wildlife Conference Planned for September

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation and Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, the Federal Highway Administration, and partnering organizations will host the 2010 Northeastern Transportation and Wildlife Conference on Sept. 12-15, 2010, in Amherst, Mass. The conference will include discussion of new information and thinking necessary to ensure that both wildlife and transportation needs are sustained in the face of climate change, an aging infrastructure, and development pressures. The conference will feature sessions on topics including wildlife planning, wildlife collisions, road ecology and wildlife and fish passages, mitigation, and modeling. For more information, including a tentative conference agenda, link to the conference website. (7-22-10)

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TRB Webinars to Consider Ecological Approaches to Conservation Design, Highway Impact Mitigation

The Transportation Research Board will host a two-part webinar series on July 29 and July 30, 2010, featuring current work of the Strategic Highway Research Program 2 on broad-scale ecological approaches to conservation design and mitigation of highway impacts and resultant conservation. The workshops also will include related presentations by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on watershed planning and 404 permitting and presentations by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state natural resource agencies on integrating planning for species recovery and strategic habitat conservation in the Section 7 consultation process. The webinars – Part 1: Water Approaches (July 29) and Part 2: Habitat, Species and Connectivity (July 30) – will be held from 1:00 to 3:00 PM EDT. For more information and to register, link to the TRB Webinars: Toward a Common Ecological Framework. (7-15-10)

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Western Governors Describe Efforts to Complete Regional Wildlife Mapping

The Western Governors’ Association has announced the governors’ reaffirmed commitment to addressing landscape-scale wildlife conservation through the Western Governors' Wildlife Council and committed their state agencies to completing wildlife decision-support systems within three years. The governors also highlighted their efforts through the council to conserve crucial wildlife habitat and corridors by bringing states together for the first time to coordinate their data and produce more accurate wildlife counts and maps. Eight pilot projects to develop wildlife decision-support systems have been launched in June 2010 with the support of funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. For more information, link to the news release and to WGA Wildlife Corridors Initiative website. (6-28-10)

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FHWA Launches Online Training on Wildlife Vehicle Collision Reduction

The Federal Highway Administration has developed a training course intended to be used in conjunction with the August 2008 Wildlife Vehicle Collision Reduction Study: Report to Congress and the October 2008 Wildlife Vehicle Reduction Study Best Practices Manual. The online course provides information for transportation professionals on how to identify the need to implement wildlife vehicle collision mitigation during the transportation planning phase or as a retrofit; information about effective mitigation strategies; special considerations in dealing with threatened and endangered species; monitoring installed mitigation measures; and funding sources for mitigation implementation. For more information, link to Wildlife Vehicle Collision Reduction Training on the FHWA’s Environmental Review Toolkit homepage. (6-3-10)

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Endangered Species Habitat Conservation Grants Awarded by FWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has awarded almost $66 million in fiscal year 2010 grants to 25 states in support of conservation planning activities and habitat acquisition for federally protected species. The grants were awarded under the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund in three categories: habitat conservation planning (HCP) assistance grants, HCP land acquisition grants, and recovery land acquisition grants. For more information, link to the FWS Endangered Species Program Grants website and the complete list of 2010 grant recipients. (4-12-10)

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2009 Exemplary Ecosystem Initiatives Announced by FHWA

The Federal Highway Administration has announced its 2009 selection of exemplary ecosystem initiatives by transportation agencies around the country. FHWA annually selects and showcases on its website examples of exemplary ecosystem initiatives that reduce habitat fragmentation and barriers to animal movement, encourage development of more sustainable mitigation sites, stimulate early ecosystem planning, and foster ecosystem-based research. FHWA has selected 12 exemplary ecosystem initiatives for 2009. For more information, including past winners, link to the Exemplary Ecosystems Initiative website. (3-24-10)

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Report Examines Effect of Climate Change on U.S. Bird Populations

A new report produced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and conservation experts examines the effects of climate change on U.S. bird species. The report, “The State of the Birds: 2010 Report on Climate Change,” follows a 2009 report showing that almost a third of the country’s 800 birds species are either endangered, threatened, or in significant decline due to loss of habitat, invasive species, or other threats. The 2010 report cites further threats to birds from climate change, including a finding that most bird species that are dependent on oceans, including Hawaiian birds, are particularly vulnerable to climate change. The report includes information on U.S. bird species and their habitats, examples of what could happen due to climate change, and suggested solutions and efforts needed to help address these issues. For more information, link to The U.S. State of the Birds website. (3-11-10)

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FWS Awards Over $76.5 Million for State Wildlife Grants

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will distribute over $76.5 million in funding this year to state and territorial fish and wildlife agencies under its State Wildlife Grant program. The program provides federal grants for the development and implementation of programs benefiting fish and wildlife and their habitats, including species not hunted or fished, with each state or eligible jurisdiction receiving grants through a formula based on their land area and population. For more information, link to the news release and the agency’s State Wildlife Grant Program website. (3-8-10)

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Report Examines Wildlife-Vehicle Collision Mitigation Measures in Canadian Rockies

The Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University has published a report that examines potential mitigation measures for reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions and providing safe wildlife crossings. The report is an update of a highway mitigation plan prepared in March 2008 for Parks Canada for Highway 93S that runs through Kootenay and Banff national parks. The report includes an update on the availability and effectiveness of potential mitigation measures, including wildlife fencing, wildlife underpasses and overpasses, animal detection systems, and new road striping patterns designed to influence drivers to lower their vehicle speeds. The report also provides additional wildlife mortality and observation data. For more information, link to Update for Wildlife-Vehicle Collision and Crossing Mitigation Plan for Hwy 93S in Kootenay and Banff National Park. (3-3-10)

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Report Examines Traffic Safety in Urban Deer Management Areas in Iowa

The Center for Transportation Research and Education at Iowa State University has published a report that examines the relationship between deer-vehicle collisions, deer density, and land use in three urban areas in Iowa that have deer management plans. The report finds that the number of deer carcasses removed on the primary roads in these areas was greater than the number of reported deer-vehicle crashes. The report also identifies factors that could be useful for identifying locations on the transportation system that significantly impact deer species and safety and for determining appropriate countermeasures for mitigation. In addition, the report recommends actions to reduce deer density near roads and developed land, provide wider shoulders on undivided roads, and improve the consistency and accuracy of deer carcass and deer-vehicle collision data collection methods. For more information, link to An Assessment of Traffic Safety in Urban Deer Herd Management Zones in Iowa. (2-24-10)

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FWS Course Covers Innovative Approaches to Wildlife, Highway Interactions

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has developed a course on innovative approaches for addressing wildlife/highway interactions. The course will provide an overview of wildlife issues relative to existing highways and highway planning, differences in impacts and solutions between low volume and high volume roads, structural and non-structural solutions to wildlife mortality and habitat connectivity, and an introduction to available resources on wildlife/highway crossings and interactions. Two sessions currently are offered: one is scheduled for July 7-9, 2010, at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, W.Va. The second course will be held Sept. 13-15, 2010, in Portland, Ore. For more information, link to Department of the Interior’s Learning Management System website.(1-29-10)

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TRB Journal Compiles Recent Environmental Research Reports

The Transportation Research Board’s Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, Volume No. 2123, includes 19 papers covering various environmental research topics. The subjects examined include linking transportation planning and the National Environmental Policy Act processes, idling reduction options for heavy-duty diesel trucks, use of dispersion modeling to predict near-road particulate matter concentrations, environmental impacts of high-emitting vehicles, measuring pass-by noise from highway trucks, planning of combined wildlife and pedestrian highway crossings, historic roadway preservation, and others. For more information, link to the Transportation Research Record, Vol. 2123. (1-22-10)

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AFWA Releases Voluntary Climate Change Guidance for State Wildlife Action Plans

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies has issued voluntary guidance for state fish and wildlife agencies that want to better incorporate climate change impacts on wildlife and their habitat into state wildlife action plans and other management plans. The guidance addresses wildlife adaptation, vulnerability assessment, monitoring, and the planning process. The document also includes an overview of current information on climate change, tools for planning for and implementing climate change adaptation, and case studies. For more information, link to Voluntary Guidance for States to Incorporate Climate Change into State Wildlife Action Plans & Other Management Plans. (1-13-10)

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NCHRP Synthesis Explores New Approaches to Ecological Surveys

Ecological survey needs related to transportation activities and new approaches for meeting those needs are examined in a synthesis report produced under the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP Project 20-5, Topic 39-12). The report is based on a 2008 survey of personnel at state departments of transportation and state fish and wildlife agencies who were most familiar with environmental survey needs and new approaches to meeting them. Examples of new approaches include data collection and analysis, bringing data into common geographic information systems (GIS) formats, and improving cooperative working relationships among transportation and resource agencies. The report also provides a matrix of new technologies and methods organized by different phases in the transportation process as well as case studies and a list of referenced literature and websites. For more information, link to NCHRP Synthesis 400: New Approaches to Ecological Surveys (Project 20-5, Topic 39-12). (1-8-10)

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