The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) maintains an expansive statewide roadway network of approximately 16,432 miles of highways with an estimated 173,520 acres of right-of-way (ROW) associated with these highways. The current ARDOT (ROW) management practices may negatively affect butterflies (pollinators) and burrowing crayfish species, primarily through permanent or temporary removal or degradation of suitable habitat.
The voluntary prelisting species conservation program (program) establishes the commitment of ARDOT, as the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) non-federal representative for consultation under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, to pursue voluntary prelisting conservation credits for “at-risk” species by implementing a conservation roadside vegetation management regime. The voluntary conservation actions proposed under the program benefit the following species and subspecies: monarch butterfly, Texas frosted elfin, Irons Fork burrowing crayfish, Ouachita burrowing crayfish, slenderwrist crayfish, Bayou Bodcau crayfish and the Jefferson County crayfish.
The ARDOT developed this voluntary prelisting conservation program based on the conservation strategy outlined in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s January 18, 2017 Policy Regarding Voluntary Prelisting Conservation Actions, Fish and Wildlife Service Manual at Part 735 (May 31, 2018 Policy Supersedes Directors Order 218)). This program follows the principles described in the Policy and is expected to attain a net conservation benefit for the covered species, uses a landscape-scale approach, is designed to ensure transparency and consistency, and bases the conservation actions and resulting crediting on the best available science. The program addresses the process of site selection, and the duration, effectiveness, and durability of conservation actions in accordance with the requirements of a voluntary prelisting program in the Policy.
By incentivizing a conservation roadside vegetation management regime, it is our larger intention to reframe our traditional views of what roadside vegetation management looks like to State Departments of Transportation, conservation and natural resource agencies, and the traveling public in order to provide a safe, cohesive, and functional transportation system that benefits both the natural and human environments.