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Joseph A. Burns CWB
National Transportation Ecology Program Leader
Watershed, Fish, Wildlife, Air, Rare Plants
1400 Independance Ave SW - MS1121
Washington, D.C. 20250-1121
(202) 205-0919
jaburns@fs.fed.us

Sandra Jacobson
Wildlife Biologist
USDA Forest Service
Pacific Southwest Research Station
(541) 678-5240
sjacobson@fs.fed.us

 

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Wildlife Crossings Toolkit

Welcome to the Wildlife Crossings Toolkit!

The Wildlife Crossings Toolkit provides information for terrestrial biologists, engineers, and transportation professionals to assist in maintaining or restoring habitat connectivity across transportation infrastructure on public lands.

Since the original launch in 2002 of the Wildlife Crossings Toolkit, when the applied science of transportation ecology (or ‘road ecology’) was in its infancy, knowledge has increased rapidly along with the public’s interest. The need for an update was clear. The renovated Wildlife Crossings Toolkit (WCT) retains relative and timely content while sharing the best available new science. The USDA Forest Service partners with the USDI National Park Service to maintain the website's current content. Among other partners, we are cooperating with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). While we are striving to provide the best available science in transportation ecology, the site is not to be considered official policy or direction.

The Wildlife Crossings Toolkit is a work in progress, and we would like your input. To provide comments, please contact us using the contact information at left. Please contact Joseph Burns for policy issues, and Sandra Jacobson for issues on transportation ecology science or application.

Objectives of the Wildlife Crossings Toolkit

The objective of the Wildlife Crossings Toolkit is to provide comprehensive, timely and current information on highway and wildlife interactions. The Wildlife Crossings Toolkit provides:

  • State of the art information to federal land management agency resource management staff on integrating conservation and large scale/long term transportation planning.
  • Decision support tools for Federal Land Management Agency (FLMA) staff to use in highway project development planning.
  • Information on effective mitigation measures and lessons learned from highway case histories across the world.

In the future, we hope to add capabilities that will enhance cooperative relationships with networking tools.

Partners in the Wildlife Crossings Toolkit

The new Wildlife Crossings Toolkit is a collaborative effort between the USDA Forest Service and the USDI National Park Service. Funding was provided by the Forest Service’s San Dimas Technology and Development Center under the Coordinated Technology Improvement Program interagency pooled fund for the major portion of the site renovation. The Coordinated Technology Improvement Program pools funds from five federal agencies: Federal Highway Administration, USDA Forest Service, USDI agencies National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs. Funding was provided by the USDA Forest Service’s CIO for coordinating the site content. Maintenance of the site will be accomplished through an ongoing agreement with the Forest Service and National Park Service.

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What is Transportation Ecology?

Transportation ecology broadly defined is the study of the interactions between the natural environment and the built infrastructure. Sometimes it is called ‘road ecology’ to narrow it to the effects of roads, paved or not. In the Wildlife Crossings Toolkit, the focus is primarily on hard surfaced, paved highways with greater than about 400 vehicles per day.

The USDA Forest Service manages many miles of non-paved roads, and is well aware of the impacts of these roads on wildlife. However, some 286,000 miles of paved public roads also occur within National Forest System lands. These might be managed by the state transportation department or another entity. The impacts of these highways on terrestrial wildlife resources have tended to receive less attention, possibly due to their shared responsibility. The Wildlife Crossings Toolkit helps to fill the gap in knowledge for land managers, and to provide tools to identify and mitigate effects with the best available science.

The Transportation Ecology Overview section includes many tools to assist in identifying issues, decision support, and evaluating appropriate deployment of mitigation measures.

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Intended Audience

Our primary audience is natural resource managers in the Federal and State land management agencies. This includes agency line officers, terrestrial biologists, and engineers. Our partners in the transportation agencies, including state departments of transportation and Federal Highway Administration (Federal Aid and Federal Lands Highway Program) will also find much of use here. We acknowledge the cooperative relationships we have with these agencies. We welcome other users as well, and request any constructive criticism, additions or corrections to the site.

The Wildlife Crossings Toolkit is a compilation of tools, resources, and lessons learned on topics of interest to Federal and State land management agencies (FLMA). These tools will be useful as an introduction to transportation ecology to most people in academic and non-governmental organizations as well.

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Page Last Modified: February 18, 2014


Additional Information

How can we most effectively deploy mitigation so that it is integrated into the largest scale planning efforts while being appropriate at the smallest microsite scale?

Long-tailed weasel killed by vehicle

Long-tailed weasel Image courtesy Highway 89 Stewardship Team.

The most obvious impact of highways on wildlife is vehicle-caused mortality, but this may not be the most relevant issue from a population-management perspective.

Large bridge over I-90 in Washington.

High bridge allowing wildlife movement across I-90 in Washington. Image: FHWA.

Maintaining or restoring key wildlife movements across landscapes requires an understanding of their context and priority across large scales.

The Wildlife Crossings Toolkit intends to be a source of relevant and effective information as tools and policy become available.