Please Note: Because the National Scenic Byways Program is no longer funded, FHWA is no longer soliciting grant applications. Without funding for the Program, FHWA will not be moving forward with another round of designations of America's Byways® at this time.
Does designation as a National Scenic Byway or All-American Road guarantee a permanent place in the America's Byways® collection? Once designated, what obligations/expectations are placed on the byway as a nationally designated byway? Should there be a re-designation process for America's Byways®?
A re-designation process could take many forms and result in different outcomes depending on its structure. First and foremost, re-designation must be considered with discussions regarding de-designation and corridor management plan updates. Politically, a re-designation process could be a more effective tool at removing underperforming byways from the collection than de-designation—a removal by attrition rather than by decree. Proactively, re-designation would serve as a touchstone for byways with the Federal program—reminding byways of their obligations to their corridor management plans, and introducing new local byway advocates (as local byway advocacy organizations continue to evolve) to National Scenic Byways Program (NSBP) policies, programs, and expectations. Re-designation could also serve as an incentive for better byway management by tying re-designation to grants or corridor management plan updates, for example. For State and Indian tribe byway coordinators, re-designation would provide an opportunity to review and reassess the overall performance of their byways and their contributions to State or Tribal goals for tourism, diversity and resource protection.
The following program observations and options have been developed to suggest possible reasons.
The following observations present considerations for re-designation.
A requirement for re-designation of byways could be a powerful incentive to keep byway organizations invested and focused on the quality and protection of their intrinsic qualities.
While de-designation is permitted under the NSBP's Interim Policy, it is unlikely to be utilized for quality control of the system. Except for the most extreme cases of byway neglect, it is unlikely FHWA or States will actively seek to de-designate underperforming byways. Re-designation may offer a more politically acceptable alternative for underperforming byways to leave the Program through inaction rather than removal.
There are noticeable differences in the byways that currently exist, both in the protection of intrinsic qualities and in the threats to intrinsic qualities. Existing byways face different threats to intrinsic qualities and each community has responded differently to those threats. Some have developed voluntary or legal byway protections, while others have been more passive. Actions affecting intrinsic qualities of a byway should not be viewed by how they affect a portion of the byway, but by the effect such actions would have on the entire byway corridor. As such, re-designation must not only consider the results of activities on and along the byways, but also the processes undertaken by the byway communities—in other words, was a successful byway project the result of good advocacy or good luck? Was the loss of a byway resource the result of inaction and apathy, or the end of a long fight to save the feature?
The following showcase the differing nature among byways for both preservation and loss:
The following options present considerations for the re-designation of America's Byways®
Is re-designation to limit or cap the number of byways provided as an alternative to de-designation, or to maintain quality?
There is also a need to determine the difference between the required review and update of corridor management plans and re-designation. Is one a function of another? Are they related? Is the goal of re-designation to allow underperforming byways to leave through inaction, rather than active removal; to ensure the quality of the America's Byways® collection by tying re-designation to accomplishments and CMP updates; or to enable a capped system to designate new byway routes? Re-designation could take the following forms:
If the purpose of re-designation is primarily to ensure the maintenance of quality byway routes, consider tying re-designation to regular corridor management plan reviews. (policy issue)
To keep the America's Byways® collection fresh, vibrant and interesting, it may be beneficial to limit the number of years a byway may be designated. Under such an approach the number of byways may be capped, with new byways competing for available slots as older byways rotate out of the system. In this scenario, the NSBP may be likened to a training or education program where new byway routes are brought into the system, provided technical training, funding and marketing. After a number of years the successful routes are released from the Program with the expectation that they may continue as independent byway routes—successfully competing for visitors and competent in the preservation of their intrinsic qualities. (policy issue)