Intergovernmental Agreements

Federal Lands MOU

The transportation facility activities covered in this Memorandum of Understanding include those within the Highway Easement Deed (HED) or for areas undergoing a HED process on U.S. Forest Service (USFS) or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands. This revised MOU (updated in 2021) assists in streamlining the interactions among agencies involved. The 2016 version was updated as part of a routine update every 5 years.

Issues:  In updating the 2010 version back in 2016, discussions between 33+ individuals representing all parties (FHWA, CDOT, BLM, and USFS) took place involving several teams with differing goals:

  1. Environmental Streamlining: Clarified environmental language that help streamline transportation projects conducted inside the existing HED AND in areas where HED's are in process (these areas in process are new in this MOU version for allowing FHWA/CDOT to take the lead).
    • Inside the HED, FHWA/CDOT would take the lead on environmental clearances – this means that CDOT can use FHWA’s CatEx's in these areas, and CDOT’s streamlining tools and agreements with the regulatory agencies can be used.
      • Involves early coordination between relevant agencies on all projects
      • Can use CDOT’s SHPO Programmatic Agreement streamlining SHPO/historian review
      • Can use CDOT’s SWIFT streamlining tool for endangered species consultation
      • USFS/BLM will provide a narrowed, project-specific sensitive species list to FHWA/CDOT for surveying
      • No longer require USFS/BLM to approve biological qualifications of the biologist conducting a Species of Concern survey for those not-yet-listed as threatened or endangered on Federal Lands within the HED
    • Outside of the HED area, the level of analysis completed would need to be adequate to address USFS and BLM processes (which relates to the “One Shared Analysis”)
  2. ROW/HEDs: Confirmed/clarified how the MOU applies under US Code Title 23 (Highways) vs. US Code Title 5 (Government Organization and Employees) and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.
    • Streamlined how to establish Survey “Monuments” when creating a new HED – now CDOT can use roadway centerline where Monuments are not already established and easily accessible.
    • Clarified 3rd party user expectations.
    • Clarified bicycles as transportation vehicles and paved bike paths as likely transportation facilities, however was not able to resolve the issues of USFS charging for bike events on the Vail Bike Path due to the varied land ownership of the path. This will have to be solved under a different agreement.
  3. Visual/Maintenance: Developed a new section on Visual and Scenic Resources Guidance that addressed visual requirements, revised avalanche mitigation coordination, and clarified roles and responsibilities for both operations and maintenance.
    • The new Visual Guidance in this revised MOU has blended CDOT, USFS, and BLM requirements/expectations for new work. As part of this, gained agreement on guardrail so that “staining” guardrail so it has a low contrast with the background is better than using weathered or painted guardrail.
    • Defined and clarified routine operations and maintenance actions.
    • Documented handling of CDOT herbicide applications on federal lands.
    • Clarified requirements for CDOT avalanche mitigation measures requiring new construction.
    • Clarified that CDOT will install USFS/BLM signs in CDOT ROW but will not provide them.

Planning and Environmental Linkages