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Contact Information

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

Sandra Jacobson
Wildlife Biologist
USDA Forest Service
Pacific Southwest Research Station
(541) 678-5240


You are here: HOME » Resources » Overview of Transportation Ecology

Overview of Transportation Ecology

Tools here are specifically selected to be useful for natural resource agency biologists and engineers working on public lands. Dive deep into these sections, because there are many examples.

Decision Support Tools for Large Scale/Long Term Transportation Planning

Transportation departments typically distinguish planning for highways at two levels. The long term, strategic level is called ‘transportation planning’. It can be as much as 20 years in the future.

Tools for public land managers in this section include ‘getting out ahead’ strategies so that all agencies have a place at the planning table early enough for every agency’s missions to be heard and considered. More »


Decision Support Tools for Highway Development Projects

Highway development projects are fast-paced and complex. Many natural resource managers are overwhelmed by the time constraints and information requested by DOTs or FLHP. This section is designed to provide some of the tools to help biologists and other natural resource specialists respond in a timely and effective manner to highway development projects. More »


Integrated Large Scale and Project-Level Planning

"Every Day Counts"

More »

Tools and Examples for FLMAs

Here you will find examples of products that others have developed for highway development projects or larger scale planning. More »


Retrofitting Existing Structures for Wildlife Passage: Assessment Tools

Retrofitting existing structures to enable animals to use them for passage across highways is possibly the most cost-efficient method of increasing the number and type of passage opportunities across the country. Literally millions of culverts and hundreds of thousands. More »


Monitoring Tools

Monitoring wildlife crossing structures for effectiveness requires a rigorous study plan to obtain valid results. Monitoring that is done for too short a period or in such a way that statistical inferences are impossible is a waste of money.

The first step in developing a monitoring plan is to identify the objectives of the investigation. Often objectives will vary by agency. For example, DOTs tend to want to justify the cost of crossing structures by ensuring that they are used by wildlife, whereas resource agencies may be interested in restoring the movement opportunities for wildlife.

We strongly encourage DOTs and resource agencies to enlist the assistance of qualified scientists to help identify objectives and to develop a rigorous study plan prior to construction.

Pre-construction monitoring is typically needed to obtain statistically defensible results.

How to Evaluate the Effectiveness of Wildlife Crossing Structures

US93 Monitoring Program

Otters on US 93 underpass monitored with cameras. Courtesy CSKT.


Funding Opportunities

Funding mitigation measures, whether they are large wildlife crossing structures or simple retrofits, is a concern to land managers as well as transportation planners. It is important to realize that mitigation measures on highways are very expensive in absolute terms, but are often proportional to the costs of other structures on highway projects.

Funding can come from many sources.

IAWHI Funding Presentation

This presentation is from the course Innovative Approaches to Wildlife and Highway Interactions. It lists many of the sources of funding. However, because this is a very complex topic, please give us a call to discuss specific situations.

Funding Opportunities For Highway Construction—Impacts To Ecological Resources (ppt, 3.29 MB)

Transportation Guide

This document is designed for FLMA and helps explain the different pots of money available to accomplish certain natural resource objectives.

Federal Surface Transportation Programs and Transportation Planning For Federal Land Management Agencies—A Guidebook (pdf, 1.79 MB)


Page Last Modified: February 18, 2014

Additional Information

Mountain Lion in Underpass on US 93

Image: Mountain Lions using an underpass on US 93, Montana. Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribe image.

Check back to this section in coming months for a primer on the science behind transportation ecology, including sections on identifying issues, impacts to wildlife, effective mitigation measures and integrating terrestrial and aquatic passage.


SAFETY is a major emphasis in the Forest Service. An excellent training tool developed by the Forest Service * on analyzing aquatic organism passage opportunities also has a section on safety, along with a sample Job Hazard Analysis.


(*Tutorial on Field Procedures for Inventory and Assessment of Road-Stream Crossings for Aquatic Organism Passage, developed by the Forest Service's 's Pacific Northwest Research Station, San Dimas Technology and Development Center, and the Stream Systems Technology Center.)