|Over 150 people from highway development disciplines as varied as design engineers, planning practitioners, and technical specialists attended the Workshop.
Some notable highlights were:
- Discussions on different types of outreach techniques and using the internet to reduce project cost and enhance public involvement by Robert Puentes, from the Metropolitan Policy Program, Brookings Institute;
- Techniques on communicating with the low literacy and English proficiency requirement;
- Tips on working with the media; and
- Guest speaker, Richard Strange, who made a slide show presentation on his personal photography of national parks.
Participant Brenda Kragh, from the Office of Planning, FHWA Headquarters, praised this regional workshop as one of the best or the best she has ever attended, adding that she has attended or participated at almost every single one since 1995.
More information on the CIA.
Tribal Consultation Best Practices Report Published
The National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (NATHPO) recently published a report entitled, Tribal Consultation: Best Practices in Historic Preservation.
The report documents the results of a project that was conceived by NATHPO, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and the National Park Service, and begun in January 2004. The goal of the project was to identify a best practice model for consultation between Federal Agencies and Tribes. A survey was developed and sent to all Federal Preservation Officers and federally-recognized Tribes asking them to identify successful consultations, the participants, and the factors they felt contributed to a successful result.
Survey responses were collected through November 2004. Sixty six (66) responses were received and sixty one (61) projects were identified by the thirteen (13) Tribes and twenty four (24) Agencies that responded to the survey. Some respondents identified more than one project and some projects were identified by more than one respondent. Survey responses from the transportation community included responses from seven FHWA Division Offices - AR, GA, ME, NC, PA, NY and TN; and six State DOT’s - AK, AR, GA, IA, NC and PA.
Some of the findings identified in the report include:
- Successful consultation begins early in the planning stages, and is predicated on each party being
Knowledgeable about the project and the priorities, and the desires of the
other parties involved in the consultation.
- Mutual respect must be the basis upon which successful consultation builds
- Consultation builds relationships, and the funds and time spent in consultation reap ongoing benefits and efficiencies for future projects.
- Good processes last beyond individual personal relationships, even though the latter may have initially opened the door to effective communication.
- Neither the Tribes nor the Agencies have time and money to spare. Both look for efficiencies in working relationships.
- Though not without cost, successful consultation results in better and lasting final agreements and project decisions.
Federal Agencies have an obligation to consult with Tribes on a government-to-government basis for all Federal undertakings in order to comply with the Section 106 process of the National Historic Preservation Act. The results of this study will assist consulting parties arrive at successful results by identifying and promoting effective consultation practices.
Both Paul Tufts and David Grachen from the Resource Center Environmental Team offer technical assistance and training on tribal consultation matters. If you would like to pursue this assistance, please contact Don Cote, Environmental Team Manager at 720-963-3210.
The entire report can be downloaded from the NATHPO website.
Improving the Quality of Environmental Documents
In 2004, an AASHTO - ACEC - FHWA Taskforce was formed to address needed improvements in the overall quality of transportation environmental documents prepared by State Departments of Transportation and engineering consultants for the Federal Highway Administration. Three Task Teams were formed to focus on different issues important to improving the quality of environmental documents:
- Legal Sufficiency, chaired by Larar Smith from FHWA-HEPE
- Quality and Clarity of Environmental Documents, chaired by Carol Lee Roalkvam from Washington DOT.
- Education and Training, chaired by Tim Hill from Ohio DOT.
On April 18, 2005, the three Task Teams met in Chicago. Representatives from FHWA Headquarters and the Environmental Team of the Resource Center also participated in the meeting.
The Quality and Clarity of Environmental Documents Task Team began its meeting with a review of the 2004 AASHTO Practitioner’s Survey and the NCHRP 25-25-1 Research Product: Synthesis of Data Needs for EA and EIS Documentation – A Blueprint for NEPA Document Content. These items, as well as other initiatives underway across the nation, like the Washington DOT's Reader-Friendly Document Toolkit and the California DOT’s Formatting Guide, are indicative of ongoing efforts to improve the quality of NEPA documents.
Based on discussions of all of these NEPA document improvement efforts, the group concluded that there is agreement on the basic components that should be part of every quality NEPA document. The Task Team was able to identify the action items that would unite the findings and best practices of these various components into one document. A draft document will be prepared during the fall of 2005 in anticipation of having a final document ready in 2006.
The Task Team on Legal Sufficiency agreed that areas for improvement exist with the current legal sufficiency review process as related to the following issues:
- Consistency among FHWA reviewers, State DOT and FHWA Division project development and review practices;
- The amount of time required to respond to comments from FHWA reviewers some of which are related to other than legal issues (i.e. grammar); and
- Confusion among the States DOT's, Division Offices and consultant practitioners concerning the level of analytical detail that should be included in NEPA documents.
The Legal Sufficiency Task Team agreed on several possible courses of action including establishing parameters for special focus in legal review issues such as when legal counsel should be involved, preparation of Administrative Records, EIS formats and highlighting best practices (such as the Office of the Chief Counsel – Midwestern Field Legal Service best practice approach to attorney involvement and legal sufficiency review).
The Task Team on Education and Training is focusing on competency in the NEPA process and in preparing environmental documents that lead to successful project decision-making. The group agreed that education and training would benefit those tasked with preparing such documents including state DOT staffs, consultants, and cooperating agencies. The Task Team is working to identify the basic competency and skill sets needed to fulfill NEPA responsibilities and to succeed in high quality project development and project outcomes. The Task Team is presently compiling information about what kind of training is currently available and what might be missing. The Task Team will develop recommendations for parameters and opportunities for training and education to support competency in the NEPA process.
For additional information please contact Lamar S. Smith, or 202-366-8994.
What’s Going On?
Here are a few of the upcoming events of interest to the environmental community:
National Scenic Byways Conference
Rock and Road 2005
Wetland and Riparian Area Legal Workshop: Identifying “Waters of the U.S.” After SWANCC
Albuquerque Marriott Pyramid North, Albuquerque, New Mexico
It's So Easy Funding Green: The First National Green Building Conference for Funders
The Funders' Network
Green Highways Forum
University of Maryland
College Park, MD
Contact: Frank Reilly, Wetlands Working Group,
2005 WSEAS Int. Conf on Environment, Ecosystems, and Development (EED 05)
TRB 84th Annual Meeting
National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP) 31st Annual Conference Albuquerque, NM
Mar 17 - Mar 18
National OHV Program Managers Workshop
Co-sponsored by: National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council and FHWA's Recreational Trails Program Contact: Bob Walker (406) 444-4584
Contact Donna Carter, firstname.lastname@example.org
May 13 - May 17
Coastal Sediments 2007
New Orleans, LA
Environment Technical Service Team (TST)
Phone: (720) 963-3210
TST Editorial Board Members:
David Grachen, Brian Smith, and
FHWA Resource Center
Marie C. Roybal,
FHWA Resource Center
Due to Quarterly publication schedule, all article submissions for future issues are due to the Editor-In-Chief by the 15th of March, June, September, and/or December.
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