ICOET 2019 in Sacramento

Chair's Message and Conference Theme

Message from the ICOET Conference Chair

Deb Wambach, Montana Department of Transportation

Welcome to the 10th biennial International Conference on Ecology and Transportation in Sacramento, California. We are delighted to have you join the conversation with experts from around the world to exchange knowledge and best practices on the interrelationship of ecology and transportation. As we celebrate our 10th anniversary, it seems appropriate to look back and see how far we’ve come over the past two decades of growth in the global transportation ecology community. Looking forward to the next 20 years, we are invigorated by the possibilities of the future and the challenges that command collaborative and innovative solutions. One thing is clear – “achieving balance” in ecology and transportation has never been more important than it is right now. An ever-increasing human population continues to drive the need for maintenance of aging infrastructure while planning for and building the new. The unpredictability of extreme weather events and a changing climate challenges our vision for long-range planning and resource allocation. The state of our natural world is fragile, requiring the careful integration of sustainable infrastructure into complex and vulnerable natural landscapes at multiple scales. Our work is vital in preserving what persists today and offering any opportunity for these ecosystem functions and life-forms to thrive into the future.

During the conference, you will be surrounded by the foremost minds in transportation ecology as well as the newest members of our community. ICOET is designed to be highly interactive, international, and interdisciplinary, allowing participants to take in the latest in best practices and leading research in the field. The conference provides a forum to network with a variety of academics, practitioners, researchers, and industry leaders, often resulting in connections that grow into lasting relationships, shared experiences, and motivation for success. ICOET is a celebration of the global transportation ecology community and we are so happy you are here!

ICOET 2019 “Achieving Balance in Ecology and Transportation” will feature over 200 oral presentations, panel discussions, and posters from over a dozen countries. Immense gratitude is owed to our co-hosts from Caltrans and California Department of Fish and Wildlife, along with their state and federal agency partners. Six field trips will showcase the many challenges to achieving the balance between vulnerable ecological systems and safe, efficient transportation systems, while providing you the opportunity to take in the stunning beauty and innovative programs abound in California.

We are pleased to have two notable keynote speakers for our Monday and Tuesday luncheons—Dr. Daniel Sperling, Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science and Policy, and founding Director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC-Davis and Dr. Seth Riley, Wildlife Branch Chief of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and Adjunct Associate Professor in Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCLA. Other invited speakers, award presentations, film screenings, workshops, and business meetings will round out the technical program. On this, our 10th anniversary, “Achieving Balance in Ecology and Transportation” celebrates the collaborative efforts resulting in innovative solutions answering the challenge of implementing sustainable transportation infrastructure into complex and changing landscapes. Thank you to the many individuals, organizations, and sponsors who helped bring us together for ICOET 2019. Their support and your participation ensure that ICOET continues to serve as an invaluable conduit for transportation and ecology professionals around the world to share applicable research and best practices, and to transfer knowledge between experienced practitioners and future leaders as we strive to achieve balance between ecology and transportation. I sincerely hope that you have a rewarding and memorable experience this week. Enjoy the conference!

Conference Theme

“Achieving Balance in Ecology and Transportation”

Balance is defined as “a state in which different things have an equal or proper amount of importance.” Achieving balance between healthy ecosystems and efficient transportation systems is critical in the pathway to sustainable growth and development, and a difficult task in new and changing environments. The ICOET 2019 theme explores the challenges and successes that transportation organizations encounter in striving for this balance through the delivery of their programs to benefit the public interest. These efforts can include incorporating anticipated climate change effects into long-range planning, mitigating ecological impacts of new construction projects, or adaptively managing existing infrastructure effectively while improving baseline ecosystem functions. Achieving balance in new and changing physical, fiscal, political and social environments relies on science, is reinforced through policy, and is best implemented through collaboration, adaptation and innovation.

The highway and rail transportation organizations in our host state of California exemplify the 2019 theme as they continually face many challenges to achieving the balance between vulnerable ecological systems and safe, efficient transportation systems. Some of these challenges include fluctuating funding, intensified emergency work due to more frequent extreme weather events, and increased accountability to an informed and interested public. Around the world, transportation organizations are responsible for improving or replacing aging and deteriorating infrastructure built decades ago under a very different development paradigm while addressing current ecological needs and in consideration of future environmental changes. Advances in our knowledge of transportation ecology will provide new opportunities to better integrate sustainable transportation infrastructure into complex and vulnerable natural landscapes.

Implementing transportation solutions using the best science and policy guidance while maintaining scope, schedule and budget requires collaboration, adaptation and innovation. As we celebrate our 10th biennial conference year in 2019, ICOET continues to serve as an invaluable conduit for transportation and ecology professionals around the world to share applicable research and best practices, and to transfer knowledge between experienced practitioners and future leaders as we strive to achieve balance between ecology and transportation.