Wildlife and Roads: Decision Guide Step 3.1
Document Decisions in Implementation Plan
3.1 Document Decisions in Implementation Plan
3.1.1 Identify and agree on an implementation plan approach with project planning stakeholders
There are many forms of documenting decisions, most of them agency-specific particularly if contractual obligations are involved. This Decision Guide has assumed an interagency approach, so it is important to involve all agency stakeholders who may be involved in the implementation plan.
Examples of highway projects that have interagency agreements are Montana's Highway 93, Washington's Interstate 90, and Utah's Highway 6. For this step in the Decision Guide, these projects' working agreements can help inform others with their interagency agreements and performance measures. As of this writing in 2007, Montana has already begun implementing the Highway 93 project and the Utah and Washington projects are in or nearing the implementation phase. These projects will continue to provide lessons for others.
Washington's Interstate 90 project Mitigation Development Team report, which contains many useful examples of performance measures, is not available online for public use at this time. However, information on this project including some of the important interagency agreements associated with the project can be found at the WSDOT Project page for I-90 Snoqualmie Pass East.
Utah's Highway 6 Memorandum of Understanding can be found here at a later date: pdf
3.1.2 Agree to all provisions in the legal planning document (NEPA decision document or other) in writing
Written and signed implementation plans work best when language is clear, simple, and unequivocal. Include any important dates and the agency responsible for each outcome. Consider as signatories all stakeholders who have participated in the planning process. While many public agencies may have legal obligations and are obvious signatories, NGOs may provide some assistance through cooperative monitoring of structures or enhancing public relations.
3.1.3 Initiate Monitoring Plan
This important step will require documentation in the NEPA decision document as well as any interagency agreements that are signed. Monitoring is normally carried out over years and often is funded from a number of sources.
Many monitoring projects on highways over the last few years have been conducted with little statistical rigor because qualified scientists have not been included to develop study plans. The field of highway and wildlife interactions has matured to the point that greater statistical vigor is necessary to increase our knowledge base on the effectiveness of wildlife crossing structures and other mitigation measures. Given that highway projects and associated mitigation are very expensive in absolute dollars, it is warranted to obtain quality scientific support for monitoring. It is outside the scope of this Decision Guide to identify appropriate monitoring for a specific project. However, the following guidelines can be considered.
Initiate the monitoring plan using performance measures tied to objectives identified in Step 1.3. and the monitoring design step 2.6: Design Monitoring and Evaluation Plan. Performance measures may be identified for several steps in the project timeline, including planning, implementation and operations and maintenance. After the decision is made regarding which mitigation measures to implement, the monitoring plan can depend heavily on performance measures to incorporate adaptive management features in the project.
For purposes of the Decision Guide, consider the following points in development of a monitoring plan:
- Investigate current research priorities to identify research and monitoring opportunities in the project at hand. Some of these can be found in the companion product to this Decision Guide, NCHRP 25-27 Research Priorities.
- Especially consider monitoring any innovative features planned into the design of the project, because these may become standard features in the future if they are effective.
- Consider incorporating some NGO support in the monitoring plan. Although any monitoring or research requires adequate quality control measures, often NGO's can provide support in a timely manner if agencies can not. Here is an example of the Interstate 90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition monitoring program.