Tell ODOT to Improve Transportation Plan’s Impact on Wildlife

Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has released a proposed new Oregon Transportation Plan, a long term guidance document last updated in 2006. Though the plan addresses a wide range of priorities, it falls significantly short on several important environmental issues. Please help us send a strong message to ODOT to improve this plan!

The starry night Sky over Alvord Desert.
Night Sky over Alvord Desert by Michael Montgomery

Light Pollution
There are some simple steps that ODOT can and should take to reduce the impact of light pollution on our state’s wildlife, on our own human health, on the night sky, and on astrotourism—a rapidly growing industry which is economically important for rural communities. Washington State Department of Transportation has already committed to following best practices in lighting design. It’s time for ODOT to make the same sensible commitment to move toward fully shielded, warm temperature lighting.

Roadside Vegetation Management
The plan makes no mention of ODOT’s overreliance on roadside pesticide use, mowing and tree cutting, an unsustainable approach to vegetation management—for pollinators, for greenhouse gas emissions, for native plant regeneration, and for human health. We urge ODOT to prioritize the development of a more environmentally sustainable, integrated vegetation management plan. 

Establishment of Wildlife Corridors
According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, ODOT documents more than 6,000 vehicle collisions with deer and elk each year. It is time for ODOT to establish a program to reduce wildlife vehicle collisions in areas where wildlife corridors intersect with proposed or existing public roads.

Community Engagement and Stakeholder Input
ODOT has a track record of failing to take stakeholder input on a variety of issues seriously, even while claiming to prioritize community engagement. We encourage ODOT to set a new standard of engagement for the path forward, and we’d like to see that reflected in the OTP.

Marbled Murrelet Habitat Management
Marbled Murrelets receive no mention in the OTP in spite of 1,175 acres of ODOT lands mapped as “high murrelet nesting probability”. We’d like to see them identify habitat restoration goals and active management practices in support of marbled murrelet recovery.

Key Talking Points:

    1. Urge ODOT to include light pollution mitigation in the OTP, including fully shielded lighting and lamps with maximum 3,000 Kelvin rating;
    2. Ask them to include a return to an integrated vegetation management plan and commit to reduction of pesticide use and mowing of roadside vegetation;
    3. Thank them for addressing wildlife movement, and ask them to take this a step further and commit to development of a robust wildlife corridor plan;
    4. Thank them for addressing community engagement, and urge them to make this commitment actionable by creating clear opportunities and avenues for stakeholder input and holding themselves accountable to that input;
    5. Tell ODOT that you’d like to see more robust, measurable efforts to protect Marbled Murrelets on ODOT’s lands identified as having high nesting probability. 

Thank you for taking time to advocate for wildlife and address these important environmental issues today!