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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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Sharon L. Osowski, Ph.D. Ecologist EPA Region 6

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Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

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


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

R6 Office of Planning & Coordination

NEPA Compliance Team

GeographicGISSTInformation SystemScreening Tool

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


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

R6 Office of Planning & Coordination

WHAT IS IT?

Uses GIS coverages & databases

Scoring structure imposed on data

Environmental assessment tool


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

R6 Office of Planning & Coordination

GISST & NEPA

The Ultimate Objectives are

 Strengthen Env. Assessment

Process

 Protection of Human and

Ecological Resources


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

R6 Office of Planning & Coordination

HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM OTHER TOOLS?

Scoring Structure

Prioritization tool

Comparative

“Cumulative” & single media

More than just mapping


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

R6 Office of Planning & Coordination

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)


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

R6 Office of Planning & Coordination

Criteria

Water Quality

Ecological

Socioeconomic

Air Quality

Toxicity

Pollution Prevention

Landscape


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

Segment 3: Managed Lands

Reservoirs

Indian Reservations

State

Parks

National Parks & Preserves

National

Forests


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

Segment 3:

EJ Areas

1.67-2x state average

Lower % of economically stressed

Higher % of economically stressed


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

R6 Office of Planning & Coordination

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


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

Results of GISST for the Wildlife Habitat Criterion

Criterion scores are calculated for each 1km square

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


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

R6 Office of Planning & Coordination

Why ask why?

P r o a c t i v e

Identification of “red flags”

Open process, documentation


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

TERS

Texas Environmental Resource Stewards


Texas environmental resource stewards

TERS

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

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

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.


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol (TEAP): Diversity

  • 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.


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol (TEAP):Rarity

  • Measures:

  • Vegetation rarity

  • Natural Heritage rank

  • Taxonomic richness

  • Rare species richness

Emphasis on State & Global Species plus Rare vegetation.


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol (TEAP):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


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

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


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol (TEAP): Composite

Statewide Opportunities for protection in each ecoregion


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

Composite w/public lands overlay

Composite w/6 digit HUC overlay

Composite w/Transportation overlay

Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol (TEAP):

Examples of TEAP use


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

Percent of Pixels Inside TNC Portfolio

I-69 Corridor(excluding Crosstimbers and Southern

Tallgrass Prairie and Tamaulipan Thornscrub)


Texas ecological assessment protocol teap potential benefits uses

TERS

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.


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

Texas Interstate Highway 69

&

Trans Texas Corridor


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

I-69, “the NAFTA Highway”


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

Trans-Texas Multi-Modal Corridor Concept


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

TO

SIU Study Area

National Corridor

Stage I (Hypothetical): Tier I EIS

Tools: EPA R6 GISST, TERS TEAP


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

Example of TEAP use


Stage ii hypothetical tier i ii eis

TO

Preliminary Alignment Alternatives

SIU Study Area

Stage II (Hypothetical): Tier I & II EIS

Tools: GISST, TEAP, QUANTM


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

Segment 3: Wetland Areas

Riparian

Reservoirs

Wetlands


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

Results of GISST for the Wetlands Criterion

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


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

Results of GISST for 20 criteria

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


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

TO

Preliminary Alignment Alternatives

Reasonable Alignment Alternatives

Stage II (Hypothetical): Tier II EIS

Tools: GISST, QUANTM


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

TERS

Texas Ecological Assessment Protocol (TEAP) Strategic Ecosystem Management

QUANTM/GISST I-69 Corridor Analysis


Stage iii hypothetical tier ii eis

TO

Reasonable Alignment Alternatives

Preferred Alignment Alternative

Stage III (Hypothetical): Tier II EIS

Tools: GISST, QUANTM, TEAP


Sharon l osowski ph d ecologist epa region 6

R6 Office of Planning & Coordination

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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