Wildlife and Roads: Decision Guide Step 1.3

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Step 1 Step 1.1 Step 1.2 Step 1.3

If a Mitigation Need: Identify Goals & Objectives

1.3 Identify Goals & Objectives: If the user has decided from the first two steps that there is a need to mitigate for wildlife, then the potential effects of the plan/project are listed and the possible solutions and the goals of those solutions are developed here. Users will define performance measures or goals of mitigation and identify methods to evaluate how those goals are met over the long term.

1.3.1: Outline of possible goals and performance measures and methods


1.3.1 Outline Goals and Performance Measures Identify appropriate project team members and partners

The field of transportation ecology is developing, but finding people with experience in highway projects with wildlife issues is becoming easier. Several states have discovered that working together through an interagency and interdisciplinary process yields rewarding dividends in timeliness and project quality. Consider forming an interagency team to work on the project.

An excellent resource to assist with this process is the document Eco-Logical: An Ecosystem Approach to Developing Infrastructure Projects (PDF) . It was created by an interdisciplinary team and provides a framework for an interagency, interdisciplinary approach to highway projects.

Back to Top Identify pertinent policy, mandates, and mission statements

Identify pertinent policy or legal mandates as well as mission statements of all involved agencies: these will govern and help direct the formation of fundamental objectives. For example, FHWA has the mission to transport goods and services in a safe and efficient manner while the USDA Forest Service has a legal mandate to maintain viable populations of all native and desired non-native species. These mandates and mission statements are keys to finding the overlapping areas of agreement in complex transportation projects. Understanding agency missions and mandates helps all partners find the flexibility and 'bottom lines' of each partner.

For more information on setting objectives in complex natural resource situations with competing values and multiple tradeoffs, check out the Comparative Risk Assessment Framework and Tools website.

Back to Top Determine if NEPA documents provide guidance for objectives

Determine if the purpose and need statement in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) document [Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or Environmental Assessment (EA)] that is required for each project provides guidance for developing the objectives. Many NEPA Purpose and Need Statements are 'boiler plate' copied from previous documents and may not reflect the complexity of highway-wildlife issues. Probable objectives would include safety and resource protection. Examining the Purpose and Need Statement to ensure it is consistent with the interagency team's objectives tends to make long-term planning and agreements less problematic.

Back to Top Identify the Goals and Performance Measures

It is key to the success of a project that objectives are identified, developed, and agreed upon by all participating agencies as early in the process as possible. Explicitly identifying objectives allows all team members to understand the different agency missions and to identify the issues that need treatment. These objectives may be best understood by constructing an objectives hierarchy, where fundamental higher order objectives (i.e., those dictated by law and policy) form the highest level framework, followed by measurable actions to meet those objectives. Higher order objectives typically are not specific, but general and guiding in nature. For example, objectives such as: 1) increasing the safety of the traveling public; and 2) increasing landscape permeability, i.e., the ability of animals to move across the roaded landscape, are higher order objectives that are accomplished by establishing appropriate wildlife crossings that result in reduced vehicle-caused wildlife mortality by reducing animal/vehicle collisions.

Once high level objectives are identified and accepted by participating agencies, lower level objectives or performance measures can be developed. Accomplishment of performance measures is a measure of the success in meeting fundamental objectives. For example, measurable objectives might include:

  • A specified reduction in wildlife killed on the road
  • A specified reduction of reportable (serious) WVCs, i.e., improved driver safety
  • A measurable increase in daily movements of one or several target species through the crossing
  • The documentation of restored or continued seasonal migrations of specific species
  • Documentation of dispersal between isolated or small populations and perhaps recolonization of areas
  • Documentation of the maintenance or restoration of ecosystem level processes; e.g., hydrological (stream) flow and fish passage through a culvert during migration

A more generic list of performance measures can be found in Foreman et al (2003) page 162.

The best performance measures are quantifiable and have specific dates for the attainment of the desired results. However, because many aspects of biodiversity are large scale, complex, and difficult to measure, this is often a difficult task. Nevertheless, attempts at documentation are always desirable.

After developing performance measures, they are incorporated into a monitoring plan (e.g., as developed in Step 2.5). The development of objectives and performance measures is an iterative process with refinements at each iteration until a decision can be made (Step 3.0). To ensure long-term effectiveness, performance measures can be included in a monitoring plan as part of the NEPA decision document (ROD or Decision Notice) or the interagency Memorandum of Understanding.

Additional performance measure examples can be found in Washington's Interstate 90 Mitigation Development Team's report (PDF). At the time of this writing (3/1/07), the final report is not yet available online. However, the linked document outlines some of the performance measures and the team process for planning improvements on Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass.

Back to Top ISO 14001 Standards

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has developed a series of international standards that relate to environmental management through a series of steps that entail: Plan, Do, Check, and Act. It is referred to as ISO 14001 and was a result of compliance with U.S. Executive Order 13148 of April 21, 2000 termed Greening the Government through Leadership in Environmental Management. The executive order mandates federal agencies to adopt an Environmental Management System (EMS) to integrate environmental accountability into agency decision making. The mandate was linked to the ISO EMS standard called ISO 14001. It is the model that many federal agencies follow. In formulating a series of performance measures for a planned mitigation project, the ISO 14001 is helpful in that it outlines standards for establishing environmental objectives and targets. They include:

  • Establish objectives and processes necessary to deliver results within the organization's environmental policy. Make sure objectives allow for the ability to measure, monitor, and improve
  • Implement the process
  • Monitor and measure the process against environmental policy, objectives, and other requirements
  • Report if environmental objectives and targets have or have not been met for each function
  • Take actions to continually improve the performance of the environmental management system (adaptive management)

Back to Top Related Sites

AASHTO Center for Environmental Excellence, Setting Objectives and Targets & Tracking Environmental Commitments, Standards for Establishing Environmental Objectives and Targets

International Standards Organization 14000 EMS Information Portal

International Organization for Standards (ISO) Environmental Management Book Chapters to download

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Decision Guide Overview Step 1: Resource Evaluation Step 2: Identify Solutions Step 3: Select & Create Plan Step 4: Construction Step 5: Monitor & Evaluate