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North Atlantic LCC workshop puts regional data in hands of state and local decision makers

Partners from across the Northeast took part in a two-day workshop to learn how to access, visualize, and apply regionally consistent data layers that can provide perspective on conservation decisions across multiple scales.

At a North Atlantic LCC Science Delivery Workshop, held at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Regional headquarters in Hadley, Mass., in August, eight participants representing Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, states, and federal agencies, took a tour of regionally consistent data sets for the Northeast that can be used to inform conservation decision processes - from State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAPs) to endangered species management to habitat restoration. Four similar workshops were held previously in the region. 

North Atlantic LCC staff - including Lori Pelech, Renee Farnsworth, and Steve Fuller - began the workshop with a hands-on introduction to key habitat suitability models, including the Regional Species of Greatest Conservation Need (RSGCN), and demonstrated a suite of methods and tools for using the data in analyses.

Incorporating environmental data layers from the University of Massachusetts Landscape Ecology Lab, The Nature Conservancy, and other third-party sources, the models allow managers to look at different landscape and habitat conditions across large geographic areas. The data can be visualized through a web map viewer on the North Atlantic LCC Conservation Planning Atlas hosted by Data Basin, or downloaded for use in GIS software programs.

During the second day, participants explored possibilities for integrating, prioritizing and weighting environmental conditions, climate change predictions, habitat models, and more, for the purpose of developing a conservation design. Using examples from the Connecticut River Watershed Pilot project, North Atlantic LCC Science Coordinator Scott Schwenk illustrated how regional data layers and models are being applied on the ground to develop a Landscape Conservation Design.

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