spacer spacer   spacer   spacer   spacer  
Title Header spacer
 
HOME
spacer
 
CONTACT
spacer
spacer  
SEARCH!
spacer
spacer
spacer
  NCDOT icon  NC DOT
  NCDOH icon  NC DOH
  NCgov.com icon  NC GOV
spacer
spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer spacer
 
 
spacer
 
 
spacer
open spacer spacer
spacer Environmental Excellence spacer
spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer Facts & Highlights
spacer
spacer TEA-21 Lab
spacer
spacer Showcase
spacer
spacer Partnerships
spacer
spacer Education
spacer
spacer Program Development
spacer
spacer Environmental Functions
spacer
spacer Links
spacer
spacer Ecosystem Enhancement 
spacer
spacer spacer
spacer
spacer
open spacer spacer
spacer Environmental Hot Topics spacer
spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer Stormwater
spacer
spacer 3R Program
spacer
spacer spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer
spacer spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer spacer spacer
spacer
  HOME »  AWARDS »  Partnership for Improving North Carolina's Environment
spacer
spacer spacer  
Awards: Partnership for Improving North Carolina's Environment
spacer

The Federal Highway Administration's
2003 Environmental Excellence Awards
Partnership for Improving North Carolina's Environment

2003 Environmental Excellence Awards Image The senior leadership at the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the North Carolina Department of Transportation(NCDOT) is committed to providing for North Carolina’s transportation needs while protecting the State’s environmental and natural resources. With the Governor’s support for a more effective and efficient working relationship, the two agencies have embarked on a partnership that better serves the people of our state and fosters the growth of healthy and safe communities statewide. DENR’s Secretary Bill Ross and Chief Deputy Secretary Dempsey Benton and NCDOT’s Secretary Lyndo Tippett and Deputy Secretary Roger Sheats as a group serve as a national model for interagency partnerships for environmental stewardship and streamlining.

2003 Environmental Excellence Awards Image Building off the excellent foundation of previous DENR-NCDOT efforts, the Secretaries of DENR and NCDOT formalized their partnership in 2001 in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding which outlined a set of common goals that support environmental stewardship and responsible and timely transportation decision-making. Senior management at these agencies recognize that the key to success hinges on establishing and maintaining trust at all levels within and between agencies, communicating effectively, and providing the resources to undertake initiatives that support specific goals. Moreover, DENR-NCDOT leadership builds partnerships with state and federal agencies, as well as the private sector, to leverage support and active participation, thereby increasing the potential for success.

Evidence of this successful partnership can be seen in the numerous environmental stewardship and streamlining initiatives that have been undertaken cooperatively by DENR and NCDOT. Most notable are the process improvements in the areas of environmental permitting and wetland, stream, and buffer mitigation. Senior DENR-NCDOT leadership served as sponsors for these process improvement initiatives and solicited the partnership of other state and federal resource agencies to make substantive changes to increase the efficiency of the processes without compromising the quality of the environment. The Chief Commander of the US Army Corps of Engineers – Wilmington District (USACE) joined the DENR-NCDOT leadership in sponsoring the process improvements, and the Environmental Protection Agency, US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, NC Wildlife Resources Commission, and NC Department of Cultural Resources were active participants. Since the environmental permitting and mitigation processes are shared, leadership believed it was imperative that all the stakeholders come together to ensure that the improvements appropriately addressed the challenges that all the process participants were experiencing. These initiatives have required an intense commitment of resources and are improving the quality and efficiency of North Carolina transportation projects. In addition, the initiatives have gone a long way to enhance communication and build effective working relationships between agencies.

Another example of leadership’s effort to partner are the DENR-NCDOT monthly Senior Staff Meetings where strategic issues about transportation and the environment are discussed. Several emerging issues, such as secondary and cumulative impact assessment and air quality conformity, have been successfully resolved by leadership in a manner that meets the public purpose missions of both agencies. Together, the two agencies have identified specific goals and strategies for their partnership, which are documented in one-year and three-year work plans. The leadership team works closely to set priorities for agency staff for alignment between and within the agencies and monitors progress.

2003 Environmental Excellence Awards Image DENR and DOT have also developed and instituted a formal dispute resolution procedure. The procedure ensures that difficult issues are resolved at the lowest level possible within each agency while allowing elevation of the issue in a timely manner, as needed, for resolution by senior management. The USACE has also recently begun attending in an effort to improve communication and participate in this forum to discuss strategic issues.

In order to enhance participation by DENR staff early and throughout all phases of transportation project development, implementation and maintenance, NCDOT currently funds 13 positions within DENR. These positions are able to bring issues and concerns to the table early and help develop proactive ways of dealing with them. In addition, some of the positions provide joint environmental training to NCDOT, DENR and other state and federal agency staff. Without the commitment of resources for this program, NCDOT would not likely be able to deliver its transportation program in a timely manner.

DENR and NCDOT have pooled resources to purchase environmentally sensitive tracks of land that were subject to developmental pressure. A recent purchase, in cooperation with the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, was made of Bird Island in Brunswick County on North Carolina’s southern coast. This 147-acre island, which is surrounded by about 1100 acres of marshland, is now part of the state’s Coastal Reserve Program. The two state agencies also participated in the purchase of two view sheds along the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Appalachian Mountains in western North Carolina (a National Byway) with assistance from the federal Enhancement Program. The Conservation Trust of North Carolina, a non-profit organization, also played an important role in acquiring these properties, one which is now part of the North Carolina State Parks system and the other which was gifted to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

DENR’s River Basin Signing Program has been facilitated by NCDOT’s involvement. In a cooperative effort, DENR and NCDOT identified the appropriate locations for the placement of river basin signs along primary routes designating boundaries of each river basin. The river basin signs were purchased through a grant from the Enhancement Program, and NCDOT installed them. North Carolina’s state transportation map also includes the 17 river basins throughout the state, as well as contact information for DENR’s Office of Environmental Education who shepherd the River Basin Signing Program. This collaborative effort helps to heighten the public’s awareness of the importance of water quality and what they can do to improve the water quality in their communities.

2003 Environmental Excellence Awards Image Basinwide Restoration Plans, which are comprehensive water quality improvement plans, are being developed by DENR’s Wetland Restoration Program largely through NCDOT’s grant of $2.5 million annually for a period of seven years. These plans will enable wetland and stream mitigation to be targeted in a manner that most effectively addresses the specific water quality needs of a particular watershed. These plans will also be used by other entities for watershed enhancement and mitigation opportunities.

The North Carolina Air Quality Roundtable, co-sponsored by NCDOT, DENR and other entities, is a workshop series bringing together stakeholders from thirty different groups to cooperatively work to improve North Carolina's response to air quality as it pertains to transportation. The Roundtable will work to improve NC’s response to new air quality standards through education and building technical capacity. Ultimately, the efforts of the Roundtable will result in cleaner air and an improvement in the quality of life for NC’s communities.

Other cooperative initiatives that are sponsored and supported by senior management at DENR and NCDOT include:

  • information technology improvements, such as updating and adding components to the Geographic Information System that have facilitated responsible environmental and transportation decision-making

  • delegation of DENR’s Sedimentation and Erosion Control Program to NCDOT for the transportation projects implemented by the state

  • joint training, such as indirect and cumulative impact assessment

The partnership between DENR and NCDOT, led by the senior leadership within these agencies, has been crucial to the success of numerous environmental stewardship and streamlining activities. Their ability to create a common vision with supporting goals and creatively share resources serves as a national model. The subsequent development of new tools, improved processes, and enhanced working relationships are the keys to responsible transportation decision-making and the protection and enhancement of North Carolina’s precious environmental resources.




spacer spacer
spacer
 
North Carolina DOT Logo   The North Carolina
Department of Transportation