Road access to U.S. public lands provides millions of visitors with recreational, educational, and economic opportunities. However, providing road access also increases the potential for wildlife-vehicle collisions (WVCs) and impacts other natural resources to which Department of Interior (DOI) agencies and other federal land management agencies (FLMAs) are entrusted. The dynamic interactions between traffic and wildlife presents challenges to develop solutions that increase human safety, provide safe passages for wildlife and increase transportation project delivery. Currently, a standardized WVC data collection system for FLMAs does not exist, which makes it difficult to adequately analyze WVCs and determine where and what mitigation measures are most effective. Reliable, accurate, standardized WVC data will affect how FLMAs understand and prioritize problematic road segments and support the balance between public access and wildlife conservation.
The National Park Service (NPS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) have partnered with the Western Transportation Institute (WTI) at Montana State University to develop a standardized WVC data collection system that can identify road segments in need of mitigation to increase human safety and provide ecological conservation. Called Roadkill Observation and Data System (ROaDS), the system is a mobile device application (app) used for collecting wildlife data and includes features for storage, retrieval, and analyzing WVC data by DOI agencies. The collected data can be used to identify optimal sites for mitigation; evaluate WVC mitigation measures; support transportation planning and budgeting decisions; monitor wildlife movement; quantify mortality rates of species of special concern; and inform regional cooperative conservation and driver safety initiatives.
In Phase 1, ROaDS was created using the ESRI Survey123 platform. A beta-test was implemented by volunteer FLMA personnel to test the initial version of the ROaDS app and provide feedback on its performance, limitations, and benefits. The feedback and results from Phase 1 helped inform the deliverables in Phase 2 of the project. Phase 2 seeks to further develop an operational system managed by DOI agencies and deliver recommendations for the data collection standards that the NPS, FWS, and potentially other DOI agencies will use for the deployment of ROaDS.
A technical poster at ICOET will provide an educational opportunity that brings awareness to the need for standardized WVC data collection systems among FLMAs; and potentially, other partners. It will highlight ROaDS as one potential solution to increase efficiency, accuracy, and the ease of WVC data collection and analyses as a national system. It will demonstrate that nationally standardized data collection can generate high quality, precise data that can be used to inform strategies to improve motorist safety and wildlife movement on public lands at a variety of spatial scales.