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Joseph A. Burns CWB
National Threatened and Endgangered Species Program Leader
Watershed, Fish, Wildlife, Air, Rare Plants
1400 Independance Ave SW - MS1121
Washington, D.C. 20250-1121
(202) 205-0919


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Conferences and Training


Innovative Approaches to Wildlife and Highway Interactions
(Basic and Advanced)

This course is offered to land managers, transportation planners, engineers, and biologists who want to know more about the effects of highways on terrestrial (or aerial) wildlife along with state of the art mitigation measures. Award-winning experts teach the courses using field trips as well as lectures and activities.

Topics in the basic course include an overview of animal behavior with regards to highways, with the most common mitigation measures shown and discussed during a day-long field trip. The next basic course will likely be scheduled for 2017, possibly in conjunction with the 2017 International Conference on Ecology and Transportation (ICOET) in Salt Lake City, UT. This course does not have a field trip associated with it, and focuses more on preparing participants to optimize learning at ICOET.

The next scheduled Advanced Innovative Approaches to Wildlife and Highway Interactions will be in 2016 at Sagehen Creek Field Station, Truckee, CA. This 4.5 day course will be held July 25-29, 2016. This venue is a lovely field station in the high forests of the Sierra Nevada, with lectures, activities and field trips to wildlife crossing structures on highways of several functional classes. Topics include an overview of terrestrial wildlife issues relative to existing highways and highway development planning, wildlife behavioral responses to highways of varying types, differences in impacts and solutions between low volume and high volume roads, using wildlife behavior to design effective structural and non-structural solutions to wildlife mortality and habitat connectivity. Other topics include the economics of wildlife/highway mitigation, and using the transportation planning process  and policy to engage stakeholders to plan and fund effective mitigation.

Networking and understanding other disciplines and other agency missions is a strong benefit of the course. We encourage a diverse participation of engineers, biologists, transportation planners and others from state, federal, local agencies as well as academia and NGOs.

To register for the course, submit the 2016 Innovative Approaces registration form, and follow the instructions on the form to send payment.

This course (3 units) was offered for several years at the FWS National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV. It can also be offered in collaboration with a state DOT within a state, which sometimes works better if DOT personnel have difficulty travelling outside their state. Course credits are available from University of California Riverside.

Course information flyer [PDF]

Congressionally-mandated Animal/Vehicle Collision Reduction Study Training

This course is targeted specifically at reducing animal/vehicle collisions and is based on the Congressionally-mandated report under SAFETEA-LU.

The FHWA developed the Wildlife Vehicle Collision Reduction Study Training Course. The course was jointly developed by the Office of Safety Research and Development, the Office of Project Development and Environmental Review, and the Office of Federal Lands Highway. The web-based course is now available at:

Wildlife Vehicle Collision Training

This training is based on the findings of the Wildlife Vehicle Collision Reduction Study: Report to Congress and the Best Practices Manual developed from that study. The manual, which is the textbook for the course, may be accessed at: Best Practices Manual—Animal/Vehicle Collision Reduction.

The Report to Congress, Best Practices Manual, and the web-based course were developed in collaboration with representatives from state DOTs, other federal agencies, and experts in the field of wildlife vehicle collisions. This collaborative effort resulted in a thorough and in-depth process to identify WVC problem areas and habitat connectivity opportunities and to evaluate effective mitigation strategies that can be implemented to reduce WVCs. The course covers a wide variety of these strategies such as wildlife fencing, animal detection systems and vegetation management in great detail.


Eco-Highways: Interagency Workshop on Transportation Project Development Essentials

The workshop described below is an example of a site-specific collaborative effort that can be offered at a unit on demand.

The Cherokee National Forest and Pacific Southwest Research Station teamed up with Tennessee Department of Transportation to bring together a cadre of six Forest Service specialists from across the country who are familiar with planning highway projects on National Forest System lands.

EcoHighways Workshop session on native plant revegetation of highwaysThe purpose of the two day workshop, held at the Cherokee NF Supervisor’s Office March 1-2, 2011, was to help local Forest Service specialists learn what to expect during a ‘mega-highway’ project, and to interact with Tennessee DOT and other interagency stakeholders to clarify differences in roles, responsibilities and missions among the many agencies pulled together to plan a highway development project.

The Corridor K project is in the early stages of EIS preparation, and alternatives include as much as 20 or more miles of new or reconstructed highway through the sensitive southern Appalachian Mountains.

Tennessee DOT officials called the meeting ‘incredibly worthwhile’ and noted that when several DOT staff elected to forgo the local elected officials meeting on day two, it was ‘a testament to the importance and relevance of (the) agenda’.

Looking at fishes from small stream on the Cherokee NFThe workshop, called Eco-Highways: Interagency Workshop on Transportation Project Development Essentials, was planned as a pilot shortcourse and is available to other units as needed. It provides an overview of issues, roles and responsibilities for planning environmentally-friendly highways for resource agency interdisciplinary teams and stakeholders.

Image at left shows workshop participants from Tennessee DOT, US FWS, Cherokee NF, Regional Office, and consultants hearing about aquatic biodiversity in sensitive watersheds on the Cherokee NF.



Deer/Vehicle Collision Reduction Safety Video

It’s not possible to completely eliminate the probability of hitting an animal while driving. This video, a 2014 Bronze Telly Award winner, discusses the known high risk situations based on the Report to Congress noted above, with insights on how drivers can manage the risk and therefore reduce the probability of a collision. An interesting section of the video discusses how some animals—particularly deer—sense their world, and why their sensory capabilities limit their ability to react appropriately to oncoming vehicles.


Page Last Modified: April 07, 2017

Additional Information

Aquatic biodiversity in a bucket taken from a small stream on the Cherokee NFIn the United States, a recent study estimated there are more than one million collisions between vehicles and large animals annually.

This 25-minute safety training program will help you reduce your probability of having large animal-vehicle collisions, especially with deer.