The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) published a Federal Register Notice on June 23, 2008, announcing the FY 2009 Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative Research Program (STEP). See:
STEP is an FHWA-administered source of funding for research related to Planning, Environment, and Realty for FY 2006 to FY 2009. Stakeholder input is required to identify the research topics that should receive priority consideration. FHWA is seeking input from its partners on the FY 2009 STEP Research Program. STEP will fund research, field demonstrations, technology transfer, conferences, and workshops, as well as portions of various pooled fund research efforts. Grants and cooperative agreements are possible with a 50 percent match. Research contracts will not require a match. The feedback section of the website is at: http://knowledge.fhwa.dot.gov/cops/step.nsf - (link inactive 5/12). To submit research projects, click on the appropriate topic and complete the form. Feedback is requested by September 22, 2008.
FHWA's STEP administrators review stakeholder comments. A lack of comments indicates either satisfaction with FHWA's proposed research program, or a lack of interest from stakeholders.
TE Managers and Trail Advocates: STEP funds are the sole Federal funding available at this time for the National Transportation Enhancements Clearinghouse (NTEC). If NTEC's service is important to you, then please provide your comments.
Note: FHWA's Recreational Trails Program administrative funds are used for cooperative agreements to support trail training, trail conference support, and purchase orders to develop trail-related publications, including cooperation with the USDA Forest Service Technology and Development Program. The RTP Administrative funds are separate from the STEP funds, and are not part of the STEP process.
New Approach for American's Transportation Future: U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters Unveils Bush Administration's Visionary New Plan to Refocus, Reform, and Renew the National Approach to Highway and Transit Systems in America
The Secretary of Transportation announced a new framework to overhaul the way U.S. transportation decisions and investments are made. Reform is needed to address exploding highway congestion, rising fuel prices, unsustainable gas taxes and spending decisions based on political influence instead of merit, all of which are eroding confidence in government and threatening mobility, the economy and quality of life in America.
NOTE: Former Secretary of Transportation Mary E Peters announced a new framework for U.S. transportation decisions on July 29, 2008: information was available at www.fightgridlocknow.gov. The content from that website was removed late January 2009. [This section updated January 27, 2009.]
Submit Your Comments: The Secretary invites public comments on the Reform Plan. Please submit your comments online through the U.S. Document Management System (DMS). You may comment at anytime by going to www.regulations.gov. Comments will be considered during the further development of the proposals.
DMS Instructions: Under the "More Search Options" tab on the right side of the www.regulations.gov home page, click on "Advanced Docket Search." Enter OST-2008-0254 under "Docket ID" and click "Submit." The "Refocus.Reform.Renew" docket will be displayed in the search results. Click on the docket number link on the left and the full docket will be displayed. To submit a comment, click the "add comments" icon on the far right of the Reform Plan document entry. Follow the instructions on that page to submit your comments.
Alternative viewpoint: The Chair of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee issued a Press Release about the DOT proposal.
FHWA announced a new report entitled Integrating Considerations into the Transportation Planning Process. The report can be found at www.fhwa.dot.gov/hep/. Many DOTs and MPOs are beginning to incorporate issues into their transportation plans including explicit references to the effects of transportation on and the role of transportation in mitigating these effects. Plans are also beginning to address the threats that poses to the transportation system and potential adaptive responses.
FHWA's Environmental Quarterly newsletter is a valuable resource relating to transportation and the environment. The Summer 2008 issue brings you a wrap up of the FHWA National Environmental Conference held in June 2008. It features an interview with FHWA's outgoing Director of the Office of Project Development and Environmental Review, Fred Skaer. This article provides useful information for people interested in Transportation Enhancement activities and trails.
The America's Byways Bulletin, a bimonthly e-mail newsletter, is a great way for you to share program successes, challenges, and news with the byway community. The August 2008 America's Byways Bulletin is at www.bywaysonline.org/program/bulletin/200808/. It has articles on:
The American Trails Magazine is at http://americantrails.org/trailtracks/08sum/index.html. Here are some highlights of this issue:
From the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation website at www.achp.gov:
August 15 - National Historic Trails, part of the National Trails System, today were honored with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Chairman's Award for Federal Achievement in Historic Preservation at its business meeting in St. Louis, Missouri. Read more at www.achp.gov/Release8-15.pdf.
The National Trails System is the network of scenic, historic, and recreation trails created by the National Trails System Act of 1968. These trails provide for outdoor recreation needs, promote the enjoyment, appreciation, and preservation of open-air, outdoor areas and historic resources, and encourage public access and citizen involvement. See more information at www.nps.gov/nts/. The National Trails System Act celebrates its 40th Anniversary on October 2, 2008.
The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) honored National Historic Trails, part of the National Trails System, with the Chairman's Award for Federal Achievement in Historic Preservation on August 15, 2008. The award went jointly to the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture, who administer the congressionally designated National Historic Trails and National Scenic Trails. Partnership commendations went to the Partnership for the National Trails System and the Department of Transportation, organizations that play essential support roles in creating, maintaining, funding, and building public support and awareness for these trails. Among the Department of the Interior agencies that play the largest part in administering the trails are the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Fish and Wildlife Service. For the Department of Agriculture, the Forest Service is the principal responsible agency. See www.achp.gov/news.html for more information.
Celebrating 20 years - Who do we represent? a message from the Executive Director: working on behalf of ALL trail interests may be the hardest task of any national trail organization. It's a good task for an optimist -- why we think it's also a vital task. Read more...
FHWA announced the recipients of the 2008 Exemplary Human Environment Initiatives (EHEI) and the Exemplary Ecosystem Initiatives (EEI). The EHEIs recognize outstanding examples of transportation projects that either create or improve conditions for human activities while protecting the natural environment. The EEIs identify exemplary ecosystem and habitat projects that are unique or highly unusual in their (a) geographic scope; (b) use of cutting edge science or technology; (c) high level of environmental standards; (d) high quality of results achieved; and/or (e) recognition by environmental interests as being particularly valuable or noteworthy. See www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/ehei/awards/2008/memo_2008awards.cfm for the Awards.
TE funds were used for the South Carolina project, Preservation of the Fishdam Ford Revolutionary War Battle Site, for finding and preserving a site of national historical interest while expediting roadway improvements. Other projects had elements that were consistent with TE goals.
The American Council of Snowmobile Associations completed an Access Guide as a resource to help clubs, associations, and trail managers establish and retain permission for trails and areas on private and public lands. Although developed from the viewpoint of snowmobile trails, this resource is applicable to any trail use. This project was funded in part through FHWA's Recreational Trails Program. Several FHWA Division offices assisted in reviewing this document: THANK YOU! See www.snowmobilers.org/resources.asp along with other snowmobile-related resources, many of which have concepts transferable to other trail uses.
The International Association of Snowmobile Administrators posted Avalanche Education Resources on its website (www.snowiasa.org), along with other snowmobile safety resources such as the Safe Riders program. Avalanche Education is not only for people who live in avalanche-prone areas: it is also for flatlanders and people from areas that rarely get snow (tourists) who visit avalanche-prone areas. This project was funded in part through FHWA's Recreational Trails Program.
At the 2008 NOHVCC Annual Conference, NAOPM discussed setting up a forum for OHV Managers to ask questions, discuss issues, provide insight into new OHV program development, share new research, and more. Leslie Sherlin, a fabulous Arizona OHV Ambassador volunteer, developed a forum for use by agency OHV leaders (and a separate section for OHV Ambassadors).
Instructions: How to register on the new National OHV Manager Forum:
Thank you to Amy Racki, Off-Highway Vehicle Coordinator, Arizona State Parks, for establishing this forum.
Training on ways to better link planning and environmental processes for transportation projects and programs will be provided on September 23 in a free webcast conducted by the Center for Environmental Excellence by AASHTO in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration.
The AASHTO Integrating Transportation Planning and NEPA Decision-Making Webcast will include presentations on transportation planning; NEPA decisionmaking; how transportation planning and NEPA decisionmaking can be mutually supportive; and case studies demonstrating successful integration. It will include panel response to audience questions submitted via e-mail during the webcast. The training webcast is intended for a target audience including public- and private-sector transportation planning, environmental, and engineering professionals; environmental resource and regulatory agencies; non-governmental organizations; and university teachers and students.
The event will be broadcast live via webcast on September 23, 2008, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Eastern Time). Participants may register up to the time of the webcast by linking to www.tvworldwide.com/events/aashto/080923. There is no registration fee. Following the event, website and podcast versions of the webcast will be available for viewing on-demand at the Center website: http://environment.transportation.org.
State Trail Administrators: Please submit ideas for the 2008 State Trail Administrators Meeting to Jonathan LeClere (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Stuart Macdonald (email@example.com). This will take place November 13-15, 2008, prior to the National Trails Symposium. This is our annual meeting to discuss current issues with RTP administration, trail development and management, training opportunities, and especially, to share information among the States.
State Trail Administrators are welcome to develop tracks, breakout sessions, and discussion topics. Suggested topics so far include:
See additional events at:
Woody Hesselbarth, the principal author of the original Trail Construction & Maintenance Notebook, died July 2, 2008, after battling cancer for the last five years. In addition to this work, Woody worked on the Nez Perce National Forest from 1988-1993. See his obituary as it appeared in the Missoulian. www.missoulian.com/articles/2008/07/21/obits/01sun/09_july20.txt.
Jessica Terrell, New Mexico State Trail Coordinator, died in a car crash on January 9, 2008 (see www.americantrails.org/resources/advocacy/JessicaTerrell.html). The New Mexico State Parks Foundation established the Jessica Terrell Memorial Trails Fund. Gifts in her memory may be sent to:
New Mexico State Parks Foundation
PO Box 93096
Albuquerque NM 87199-3096
Checks may be made out to the New Mexico State Parks Foundation, with Jessica Terrell Memorial Trails Fund on the Memo line. All donations are acknowledged by return mail.
We will have a remembrance for Jessica at the State Trail Administrators Meeting on November 13, 2008.