Strategic Biological Planning
Caltrans Biology seeks to integrate biological data and its’ consideration into planning processes early in order to assist with avoiding and minimizing impacts to important species and habitat; identifying opportunities for multi-objective projects; recognition of landscape level ecological processes such as fish passage and wildlife connectivity; and assessing needs for mitigation in advance of project delivery timeframes.
Taking more of an integrated asset management decision to planning and programming decisions helps tie in ecosystem services and natural resource values like habitat connectivity for fish and wildlife. Identifying environmental deficiencies or opportunities at the same time as transportation deficiencies along a highway corridor allows the Department to take more of an integrated corridor concept approach while also developing key partnerships. Understanding the anticipated requirements associated with biological objectives/requirements early in the ten-year planning process provides a clearer understanding of the cost and scope of transportation projects early. For example, fish passage requirements per Streets and Highways Code, Section 156.3, requires Caltrans to remediate barriers to salmon and steelhead habitat on the State Highway System. Remediation of barriers to fish can dramatically alter the scope of a transportation project and associated costs. Knowing this early allows projects to be scoped appropriately and can avoid rework and delays later on in project delivery. Including habitat connectivity improvements for fish and wildlife with project designs can help us meet our goals for improving safety, sustainability, complete streets, climate change, human health and safety, and asset management.