The IEF is intended primarily to support mid to long-range transportation and infrastructure planning rather than individual project assessment and design. However, by proactively addressing information needs at the regional scale, the IEF supports better project level design, construction, and maintenance. The IEF products lay the foundation for implementing a watershed approach under the Clean Water Act, and lays the foundation for a regional-scale approach to conservation and consultation under the Endangered Species Act. This approach is meant to more effectively avoid environmental impacts, improve restoration and mitigation results, and generally streamline decision-making and leverage resources across multiple agencies.
There is compelling evidence that integrating regional-scale ecological needs early in transportation and infrastructure planning processes can achieve significant ecosystem, economic, and societal benefits.