Federal Highway Administration And Federal Lands Livability Initiative
The Conservation Leadership Network will be strengthening livability capacity in five communities starting in 2013. Through a partnership with the Federal Lands Livability Workgroup comprised of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the National Park Service (NPS) and other land management agencies, we will assess trends in livability associated with federal lands and their surrounding gateway communities, including identifying transferable lessons learned and providing specific recommendations/action plans for moving forward. This initiative expects to include a broad mix of public lands, refuges, forests and parks from a geographic and demographic cross-section of the country.
What is a “Gateway Community”?
America’s Gateway Communities are those communities adjacent to our treasured public lands—areas that attract visitors and residents alike looking for unique recreational and cultural heritage experiences. Gateway communities are often challenged with how to protect those assets that make their places unique and attractive. Often issues pertaining to local land use, economic development and nature-based tourism are debated among local government officials, public land managers and community citizens helping them realize how these complement each other.
Over the past 13 years, The Conservation Fund’s Conservation Leadership Network has offered assistance specifically to gateway communities through our Balancing Nature and Commerce program, comprised of national and place-based workshops that focus on the economics, community character, natural resources, and partnership building skills necessary for creating sustainable communities, and sustainable tourism assessments that provide evaluation and recommendations for existing and future nature-based and cultural heritage tourism opportunities. We understand the challenges that face these communities and forge solutions to meet conservation and economic development goals and build capacity for thriving communities.
What Is “Livability”?
Livability is about tying the quality and location of transportation facilities to broader opportunities such as access to good jobs, affordable housing, quality schools and safe streets.
The Six Principles of Livability as espoused by the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Partnership for Sustainable Communities include the following:
1. Provide more transportation choices.
2. Promote equitable, affordable housing.
3. Enhance economic competitiveness.
4. Support existing communities.
5. Coordinate policies and leverage investment.
6. Value communities and neighborhoods.
While substantial work is being done to support, promote and implement this national livability initiative, the question arises as to what this term ‘livability’ means and how it is measured in gateway communities. Gateway communities face unique challenges and must work in a symbiotic relationship with their public land partners to overcome these challenges.
Check back soon to see the chosen communities for the Livability Assessment!
An interagency selection committee comprised of representatives from the USFWS, NPS, FHWS and the Bureau of Land Management will select up to five public lands and their gateway communities to participate in this exciting initiative!
Refuge Roads Program
The U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Federal Lands Highway and the USFWS jointly administer the Refuge Roads Program as part of the Federal Lands Highway Program. Refuge roads provide access to and within the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS), which is administered by USFWS. There are approximately 4,900 miles of public roads within the NWRS—all but 8% of which are unpaved—in addition to more than 265 bridges, more than 5,150 parking lots, 6 transit systems and more than 680 miles of foot trails and boardwalks. The NWRS includes approximately nearly 550 wildlife refuges in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Gua, and the Virgin Islands. The 2005 Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) authorized the Refuge Roads Program at $29 million per year through 2009. Funding is provided for the design, reconstruction, maintenance, or improvement of refuge roads and SAFETEA-LU expanded the scope of the program to include interpretive signage and trails.
Balancing Commerce And Nature
“Thriving, Not Just Surviving”
The Conservation Leadership Network’s Balancing Nature and Commerce program works specifically with rural and gateway communities to focus on the building asset-based economic development and enhancing community-character. The program also introduces trends in sustainable agriculture, alternative transportation and renewable energy choices for communities. As a result, communities identify opportunities to differentiate their communities based upon their unique assets develop action plans for implementation of strategies to enhance and sustain vibrant, thriving places.
Learn More about the program:
Balancing Nature and Commerce Community of Practice