Several laws and rules (including NEPA, Endangered Species Act, Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, and the Clean Water Act) require that all proposed federally funded projects undergo studies to determine the degree and effect impacts resulting from projects on the natural environment. More specifically, they require analysis of the impacts on the natural environment with emphasis on certain special areas of concern, particularly endangered species, streams and wetlands, and surrounding terrestrial environments. For ODOT, these studies focus on the impacts resulting from transportation projects, whether it is new construction projects or maintenance activities.
For projects involved in stream work, wetlands or significant amounts of new right-of-way, ecological surveys are performed to inventory the resources in the vicinity of the proposed project. These data are summarized in the Ecological Survey Report. This report contains ecological analyses of water quality, aquatic ecosystems, endangered species, wetlands and terrestrial ecosystems. Some projects may require additional separate reports for specific resources such as mussel surveys, endangered species surveys, Biological Assessments, Coastal Consistency, and others. The Ecological Survey Report and any other resource-specific reports are used to coordinate the project impacts with the resource agencies in order to solicit comments and approvals. The coordination effort and any subsequent environmental commitments are included in the NEPA document. Environmental commitments made resulting from ecological coordination may be carried forward in the form of plan notes, avoidance and minimization measures, species surveys, and/or compensatory mitigation or conservation measures.