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Regional Environmental Framework

The REF serves to strengthen environmental stewardship in the transportation planning process by identifying and informing decisions concerning environmental resources and areas potentially impacted by transportation projects.

Regional Environmental Framework

Welcome to the Champaign County Regional Environmental Framework (REF)

The REF began development in May 2019, with its first phase report published in November 2020. The second phase, the Web-based REF, began in March of 2021 and includes all updated REF content, as well as an interactive map with resource and compliance analysis tools developed specifically for Champaign County. As an interactive online planning resource, all REF content is contained in this public website rather than hardcopy. The Web-based REF allows for more interactive content with links to related resources, downloadable data, and interactive maps. Explore the plan by clicking on the section drop-down tabs at the top of the page which are also summarized in the menu below.

Project Lead: Champaign-Urbana Urbanized Area Transportation Study (CUUATS)

Project Timeline: May 2019 - December 2022

Project Funding: Statewide Planning and Research funds from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT)

Project Working Group:

  • Illinois Natural History Survey
  • Illinois Department of Transportation
  • Illinois State Geological Survey
  • Illinois State Archaeological Survey
  • University of Illinois Facilities and Services
  • Champaign County Soil and Water Conservation District
  • Champaign County Forest Preserve District
  • Champaign County Department of Planning and Zoning
  • Champaign Park District
  • City of Champaign Department of Planning and Development
  • City of Urbana Planning Department
  • Urbana Park District
  • Resource Environmental Solutions, LLC

Updates from REF Phase 1 Report

  • Made all data and analysis from the Phase 1 Report, maps, and other pertinent layers available to users in a user-friendly, online resource.
  • Leveraged CUUATS’ existing web mapping tools to display inventory of resources in a more accessible and functional way through the Interactive Map.
  • Developed Composite Scoring system aggregating attributes of included resources to identify potentially ecologically vulnerable areas within Champaign County.
  • Expanded resource selection to capture broader range of significant and potentially review-triggering resources: Agricultural Land, Historic Districts.
  • Expanded analysis of previously included resources to facilitate environmental review processes and improve overall environmental outcomes: Soil Development Potential, Grant Funded Sites.


This section contains an executive summary of the REF, including an overview of the planning-region, and access to the REF Interactive Map.

Learn more about Overview

Plans & Guidelines Review

This section contains an overview of federal and state environmental review guidelines and requirements relevant to transportation planning.

Learn more about Plans & Guidelines Review


This section includes key information on topography, soil, hydrology, cultural resources, vegetation and wildlife habitat, regulated-waste sites, and the ambient environment. Data is updated regularly and is current as of 2022.

Learn more about Resources

Composite Score

This section contains the methodology for the REF Composite Score, a classification system based on the potential ecological vulnerability of a Census block within Champaign County.

Learn more about Composite Score

Goals & Objectives

Regional Conservation and Mitigation Goal: The REF will seek to foster and maintain conditions for productive harmony between the built and natural environment by reducing environmental impacts of transportation projects within Champaign County, expanding coordination between planning agencies and resource agencies, and incorporating strategies to maintain and improve the ecological function, integrity, and economic value of Champaign County’s natural resources. The regional conservation and mitigation goal advances the stewardship component of the overarching REF goal: “REF will provide comprehensive and centralized information on environmental, social, and cultural resources to understand and incorporate into the transportation planning process, strengthening environmental stewardship and facilitating all levels of environmental reviews.

Learn more about Goals & Objectives