Long-Range Transportation Planning in Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak region, Colorado, United States

About This Project

In support of the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) Long-Range Transportation Plan, the Colorado Natural Heritage Program (CNHP), in collaboration with NatureServe, has been applying Vista and other tools to support regional transportation and advance mitigation planning. CNHP used three analytical tools (NatureServe Vista, Marxan and N-SPECT) to analyze the ecological impacts of various transportation and development scenarios to assist PPACG in developing their 2035 plan, the 2040 plan update, and an advance mitigation plan. NatureServe Vista and N-SPECT are both scenario evaluation tools that work together to evaluate the cumulative impacts to resources under various scenarios. Marxan is a conservation prioritization tool that used NatureServe Vista outputs to identify priority areas for conservation and mitigation in the region. N-SPECT examined the relationships between land cover, soil characteristics, topography, and precipitation data to model non-point source water pollution; it can be used in combination with the land-use scenarios to provide a more accurate picture of overall impacts and mitigation opportunities. The results of all three analyses contributed to the development and evaluation of a series of land-use scenarios and the identification of PPACG’s preferred development scenario: the Small Area Forecast (SAF). Remaining unavoided impacts will be addressed in the advance mitigation plan developed with Marxan and Vista. A case study of this work was published by the American Planning Association.

The images at right illustrate scenario evaluation results generated in Vista. At left is the Current or Baseline Scenario of actual land use and infrastructure. At right is the Buildout Scenario based on current plans. Tan-colored areas have conservation elements (e.g., habitats) that have met their retention goals under the scenario or do not conflict with other land uses in those locations. Pink to red areas are where conservation elements occur that have not met their goals and are in conflict with land uses or other features in the scenario at those locations. The darker the shade of red, the greater the number of elements in conflict.


Analyze the ecological impacts of various transportation and development scenarios within the planning region of the Pikes Peak Area and assist PPACG in developing their preferred future development scenario and advance mitigation plan.


The primary product of these analyses was a standardized, scientifically based, well-documented process for evaluating the potential impacts of several development scenarios on the conservation elements of interest in the Pikes Peak area. In addition, it supported input from the PPACG stakeholders throughout the planning and analysis process, and the identification of a preferred scenario—the Small Area Forecast (SAF)—that, based on the analyses, showed the least amount of overall impacts to conservation elements. The advance mitigation plan will direct mitigation actions to those areas that have the least conflict with development and contribute the most to meeting resource conservation goals. The project has also been summarized as a case study for the American Planning Association (APA).