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Geospatial Tools in Action: EPA Region 6 GIS Screening Tool for Environmental Assessment and the Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol. Sharon L. Osowski, Ph.D. Ecologist EPA Region 6. R6 Office of Planning & Coordination. NEPA Compliance Team.

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Geospatial Tools in Action: EPA Region 6 GIS Screening Tool for Environmental Assessment and the Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol

Sharon L. Osowski, Ph.D.

Ecologist

EPA Region 6


R6 Office of Planning & Coordination for Environmental Assessment and the Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol

NEPA Compliance Team

GeographicGISSTInformation SystemScreening Tool

A GIS-Driven Environmental Assessment & Data Management Tool for Environmental Streamlining


R6 Office of Planning & Coordination for Environmental Assessment and the Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol

WHAT IS IT?

Uses GIS coverages & databases

Scoring structure imposed on data

Environmental assessment tool


R6 Office of Planning & Coordination for Environmental Assessment and the Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol

GISST & NEPA

The Ultimate Objectives are

 Strengthen Env. Assessment

Process

 Protection of Human and

Ecological Resources


R6 Office of Planning & Coordination for Environmental Assessment and the Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol

HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM OTHER TOOLS?

Scoring Structure

Prioritization tool

Comparative

“Cumulative” & single media

More than just mapping


R6 Office of Planning & Coordination for Environmental Assessment and the Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Uses a watershed (or geographic unit) approach to evaluate “risks”

Uses “criteria” to evaluate impacts

(1-5 scale)

Over 90 different criteria (peer reviewed)


R6 Office of Planning & Coordination for Environmental Assessment and the Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol

Criteria

Water Quality

Ecological

Socioeconomic

Air Quality

Toxicity

Pollution Prevention

Landscape


Segment 3: Managed Lands for Environmental Assessment and the Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol

Reservoirs

Indian Reservations

State

Parks

National Parks & Preserves

National

Forests


Segment 3: for Environmental Assessment and the Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol

EJ Areas

1.67-2x state average

Lower % of economically stressed

Higher % of economically stressed


R6 Office of Planning & Coordination for Environmental Assessment and the Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol

EXAMPLE CRITERION

Wildlife Habitat

% Acres affected Score

< 10 % 1

10% < % acres affected < 20% 2

20% < % acres affected < 30% 3

30% < % acres affected < 40% 4

> 40% 5


Results of GISST for the Wildlife Habitat Criterion for Environmental Assessment and the Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol

Criterion scores are calculated for each 1km square

GISST can be used to minimize impacts to a single resources, such as wildlife resources.


R6 Office of Planning & Coordination for Environmental Assessment and the Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol

Why ask why?

P r o a c t i v e

Identification of “red flags”

Open process, documentation


TERS for Environmental Assessment and the Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol

Texas Environmental Resource Stewards


Texas environmental resource stewards

TERS for Environmental Assessment and the Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol

Texas Environmental Resource Stewards ************************************************************

Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol (TEAP)

Purpose: To identify ecologically important resources across the State in order to support greater collaborative approaches to strategic, ecosystem management.


Texas ecological assessment protocol teap

TERS for Environmental Assessment and the Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol

Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol (TEAP)

Good Science-

  • Selected an ecological model.

  • Based approach on ecoregions

  • Conducted analysis for all ecoregions in Texas

  • Utilized best available Statewide information.

  • Internal peer review


Texas ecological assessment protocol teap three key model aspects

TERS for Environmental Assessment and the Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol

Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol (TEAP) Three Key Model Aspects

  • DIVERSITY: habitats & landscapes

  • RARITY: threatened & endangered species

  • SUSTAINABILITY: human impacts.

    • Stressors – environmental quality.

    • Fragmentation – landscape disruptions.


Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol (TEAP): for Environmental Assessment and the Texas Ecological Assessment ProtocolDiversity

  • Measures:

  • Appropriateness of land cover

  • Contiguous size of undeveloped land

  • Shannon land cover diversity index

  • Ecologically significant stream segments

Emphasis on land cover & sensitive rivers indices.


Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol (TEAP) for Environmental Assessment and the Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol:Rarity

  • Measures:

  • Vegetation rarity

  • Natural Heritage rank

  • Taxonomic richness

  • Rare species richness

Emphasis on State & Global Species plus Rare vegetation.


Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol (TEAP) for Environmental Assessment and the Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol:Sustainability

  • Anthropogenic activities & impacts:

    • Fragmentation

    • Stressors

  • Shows effects of major urban centers.

  • Measures:

  • Contiguous land cover type

  • Regularity of ecosystem boundary

  • Appropriateness of land cover

  • Waterway obstruction

  • Road density

  • Measures:

  • Airport noise

  • NPL sites

  • Water quality

  • Air quality

  • RCRA sites

  • Urban/Ag


Sustainability layer: resistance to & resilience from human disturbance

11 inputs

Diversity layer:

landscape connectivity4 inputs

Rarity layer:

rare species & land cover type4 inputs

Composite: identifies important ecological resources in each ecoregion across Texas


Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol (TEAP) disturbance: Composite

Statewide Opportunities for protection in each ecoregion


Composite w/public lands overlay disturbance

Composite w/6 digit HUC overlay

Composite w/Transportation overlay

Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol (TEAP):

Examples of TEAP use


Percent of Pixels Inside TNC Portfolio disturbance

I-69 Corridor(excluding Crosstimbers and Southern

Tallgrass Prairie and Tamaulipan Thornscrub)


Texas ecological assessment protocol teap potential benefits uses

TERS disturbance

Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol (TEAP) Potential Benefits/Uses

Benefits of Landscape Analysis for Planning Large Scale Projects

  • Identifies locations of environmental constraints.

  • Identifies potential areas of concern.

  • Identifies candidate areas for large-scale ecosystem mitigation.


Texas Interstate Highway 69 disturbance

&

Trans Texas Corridor




TO disturbance

SIU Study Area

National Corridor

Stage I (Hypothetical): Tier I EIS

Tools: EPA R6 GISST, TERS TEAP


Example of TEAP use disturbance


Stage ii hypothetical tier i ii eis

TO disturbance

Preliminary Alignment Alternatives

SIU Study Area

Stage II (Hypothetical): Tier I & II EIS

Tools: GISST, TEAP, QUANTM


Segment 3: Wetland Areas disturbance

Riparian

Reservoirs

Wetlands


Results of GISST for the Wetlands Criterion disturbance

Highway alignments should try to avoid resources by following the lightest color squares (representing a GISST score of “1”)

Criterion scores are calculated for each 1km square

GISST can be used to minimize impacts to a single resource, such as wetlands


Results of GISST for 20 criteria disturbance

The GISST score for multiple resources are calculated for each 1km square

Areas in red should be avoided

GISST can be used to determine the potential cumulative impacts of multiple issues of concern


TO disturbance

Preliminary Alignment Alternatives

Reasonable Alignment Alternatives

Stage II (Hypothetical): Tier II EIS

Tools: GISST, QUANTM


TERS disturbance

Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol (TEAP) Strategic Ecosystem Management

QUANTM/GISST I-69 Corridor Analysis


Stage iii hypothetical tier ii eis

TO disturbance

Reasonable Alignment Alternatives

Preferred Alignment Alternative

Stage III (Hypothetical): Tier II EIS

Tools: GISST, QUANTM, TEAP


R6 Office of Planning & Coordination disturbance

CONTACTS

Dr. Sharon L. Osowski (665.7506) Ecologist

Interim Transportation Coordinator

David Parrish (665.8352) GIS

Dr. Gerald Carney (665.6523) Toxicologist

Rhonda Smith (665.8006) Acting Chief

GISST Info: www.epa.gov/earth1r6/6en/xp/enxp2a3.htm


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