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For Kevin Kalasz, the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative puts Delaware’s coastal issues in perspective

Delaware’s Biodiversity Program Manager says the North Atlantic LCC provides regional perspective on one of the largest conservation priorities in his coastal state: sea level rise. “It’s been a great opportunity to really work on coastal conservation, understand the impacts of sea level rise in the region, and see how it all fits together.”

Kevin Kalasz has worked for the same program in the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife since moving from Michigan in 2001, but you wouldn’t know from the name. Fourteen years ago, it was called the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program. Now it’s known as Species Conservation and Research.

It’s a change that reflects the evolution of the field conservation itself over the past decade.

“There is so much more information available to us now,” explained Kalasz. “What we are really trying to do in Delaware with the help of the LCC is to improve how we make decisions so we are more effective in implementing actions.”

In addition to drawing upon more sophisticated conservation resources, Delaware has placed greater emphasis on cooperation, an effort in which Kalasz has had a growing role. From his first job as an assistant zoologist, he transitioned to a position as a wildlife biologist with lead responsibility for coastal migratory shore birds and a seat on the North Atlantic LCC’s Coastal and marine Technical Team, and as a member of the Structure Decision Making team on Landscape Conservation for Sea Level Rise Adaptation.

In his current position as the Program Manager for Biodiversity, Kalasz has become involved in the regional coordination work required for State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAPs), which led to his appointment to the North Atlantic LCC Steering Committee in 2013.

“As part of the SWAP process, we are considering all of the tools available so the plan will be much more robust and much more actionable in the end because of the information and support from the LCC,” said Kalasz.

“I think my involvement has really helped incorporate regional conservation issues into the state’s plan, and simultaneously, helped bring the issues we have in our state to the LCC.”

Chief among them: Issues related to sea-level rise. In Delaware, coastal resources are a major conservation focus, and Kalasz said the LCC provides a forum for looking at sea-level rise in the regional context, and ensuring that the state’s priorities are part of the conversation.

He said science products like sea-level rise models will help in developing and implementing plans at the state level, and just as important, science delivery will help get the plans into the hands of practitioners and stakeholders.

“We may not always have the capacity to develop products or on science delivery to conservation partners, but we have the perspective to know who needs what.”

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