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Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-17-008     Date:  December 2017
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-17-008
Date: December 2017


Evaluation of Promoting Roadside Revegetation: An Integrated Approach to Establishing Native Plants

4. Recommendations

Based on the survey evaluations and the interviews, the project team has the following recommendations:

Extend outreach to reach a wider audience, especially within the FHWA division offices:

According to survey and interview results, there are FHWA division office and State transportation department staff who are not aware of Roadside Revegetation, especially in regions other than the northwest, who may benefit from the technical guide.(1) Although agencies in these regions may be currently using native plants, the project team found that Roadside Revegetation is still a useful reference, even for knowledgeable practitioners. Therefore, expanding the extent to which end users adopt the recommended practices in the revegetation material through increased outreach would be beneficial. A revived outreach campaign reminding division offices about the guide and how it might be applied could broaden the extent of Roadside Revegetation’s influence. Such an effort would involve identifying points of contact at FHWA headquarters and FHWA division offices with whom revegetation information can be shared and discussed. Over 4,000 copies of Roadside Revegetation were initially printed, many of which went to FHWA division offices. Awareness of the guide within the divisions and beyond likely hinged on whether the appropriate staff member(s) received it.

Provide additional training on Roadside Revegetation practices:

Several survey respondents learned about the revegetation material through the training courses that FHWA offered in companion with the release of Roadside Revegetation.(1) Interviewees agreed that the course was a great resource and that they would take it again if given the opportunity. One interviewee stated that it would be beneficial if FHWA offered new training courses, noting that with several FLMAs having experienced a high turnover rate, training is key to improving the practice of native revegetation along roadsides. Another respondent underscored the importance of trainees participating in any course that is offered at the “right time intheir careers.16 This person believed that someone with greater experience in the field might benefit more from the original training course than someone with little or no experience.

Support the enhancement of the Roadside Revegetation website community of practice: Survey respondents and interviewees generally agreed that Roadside Revegetation is a comprehensive and useful guide.(1) However, some asserted that it would be beneficial to be able to discuss strategies and work through implementation issues with other professional practitioners. Because Federal and State agencies using native plants are working toward similar goals, interviewees believed that a community of practice where knowledge could be shared could be a cost-effective way to improve implementation outcomes, especially in a time of constrained budgets. Accordingly, the “SHARE”tab on the Roadside Revegetation website allows visitors to share their revegetation experiences, which FHWA and USFS can review before posting live for other website users.(4) One issue is that maintaining the website’s community practice can be a time-intensive activity that is not included with regular job responsibilities. Additionally, few biologists or revegetation experts are available at FHWA to manage the community practice even if funding for their time was not a constraint. Renewed attention to the community of practice and the requirements for effectively managing it could broaden its use among interested stakeholders.

Consider making design standards available for native revegetation:

A survey respondent and interviewee requested design specifications for erosion control material such as erosion control blankets, wattle spacing, and soil lifts. State transportation departments typically have design specifications for these applications. Therefore, it may be straightforward to incorporate design standards that the greater technical guide readership could access to improve outcomes on non-State transportation department projects.

Place future emphasis on site preparation and appropriate soil conditions: Several respondents and interviewees noted a limitation in the technical guide related to site preparation, specifically soil requirements.(1) Anecdotal evidence points to native plants’ ability to adapt to various conditions; however, during a construction project, soil can become heavily compacted, stripped of necessary nutrients, and replaced in various conditions that can limit the growth of plants. One interviewee stressed that ensuring installation of appropriate soil by contractors is a struggle, commenting that appropriate soil is needed to ensure successful native revegetation projects. Increased knowledge and guidelines would further support the need for appropriate soil conditions and give natural resource specialists the knowledge they need to make requirements in contracts and bid documents.

Tailor future roadside revegetation training courses for personnel who do not have natural resource backgrounds:

Several interviewees noted that they have experienced a knowledge gap between the natural

resource practitioners responsible for the design and implementation of a revegetation project and the contractors or maintenance personnel responsible for the installation and long-term oversight of these sites. One interviewee recalled that agency staff have heard stories of contractors installing plants in unsuitable locations or installing plants upside down. One solution the agency had tried was to use an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract that allows an indefinite quantity of services and supplies during a fixed period of time. The contract included a pool of contractors that specialize in native plant installation who can be called on for projects as needed. This approach ensured that qualified professionals were available to work on sites to prevent poor installation. Another interviewee noted that agency staff have started removing native revegetation components from road project contracts. This allows separate bids for native plantings, which then ensures that qualified contractors with native plant experience are used. For those agencies unable to implement these suggestions, training courses geared toward personnel who do not have natural resource backgrounds would be beneficial to highlight the nuances of native plants with specific training for the installation and maintenance of native plants.

Publish an article about this evaluation and any planned follow-up activities related to these recommendations:

Another way to reach a wider audience as part of a renewed outreach drive would be to draft and

publish an article describing the outcomes of this evaluation. The article could briefly describe the Roadside Revegetation resources available, feedback collected over recent years regarding the materials, and any activities planned to implement this evaluation’s recommendations.(1) Potential publications for such an article include FHWA’s Public Roads magazine or Successes in Streamlining newsletter.

16 For more information, see section 2, Telephone Interviews.



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