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Linking Statewide Connectivity Planning to Highway Mitigation: Taking the Next Step in Linking

  • Author(s): Kintsch, Julia
  • et al.
Abstract

Statewide connectivity planning represents an important first step for informing the transportation planning process at the statewide and regional levels. However, without finer scale assessment, such broad-scale planning does not provide sufficient information for integration into project-level designs. The Linking Colorado’s Landscapes project – designated as a 2006 Exemplary Ecosystem Initiative by the Federal Highway Administration – was initiated in 2003 to identify, prioritize, and assess wildlife movement linkages throughout Colorado. The project developed as a collaborative effort between the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Southern Rockies Ecosystem Project (SREP). Under this unique partnership, a FHWA grant enabled CDOT to contract with SREP for the development of a connectivity assessment in Colorado. This arrangement has facilitated CDOT’s consideration of landscape-scale permeability for wildlife while addressing the state’s transportation needs and environmental stewardship objectives.

Linking Colorado’s Landscapes consisted of two phases: a statewide assessment of broad-scale wildlife linkages, and an in-depth assessment of twelve of the highest priority linkages. Now complete, the challenge for the project partners lies in integrating both the vision for a connected landscape and the more detailed recommendations into all levels of transportation development – from long range transportation plans to on-the-ground transportation projects. This paper describes the methods and opportunities for implementing the vision as well as the site-specific recommendations provided in Linking Colorado’s Landscapes.

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