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NALCC Steering Committee Endorses Key Next Steps

Regional partners chart course for developing, integrating, delivering, and communicating science toward a common goal of sustainable landscapes.
NALCC Steering Committee Endorses Key Next Steps

NALCC Steering Committee members John O'Leary and Sharri Venno discuss an issue during a break in the meeting.

The North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative Steering Committee, a group of 40 partners representing conservation agencies and organizations in the Northeast Region, has agreed on a series of next steps for developing, integrating, delivering, and communicating science toward a common goal of sustainable landscapes.

Established in 2010, the North Atlantic LCC is focused on developing and applying science to conservation planning, delivery and evaluation as part of a shared conservation framework in the Northeast region, as well as providing critical conservation planning capacity to its members.  During its fall meeting Nov. 5-6 in Gardiner, N.Y., the Steering Committee renewed its commitment to this vision and charted a course for developing and delivering LCC science and tools – including landscape conservation designs collaboratively developed by LCC partners – to inform conservation delivery throughout the region. These include:

Continued collaboration and support for an iterative process of landscape conservation design testing and learning in the LCC. This process includes:

  • Continued development of regional and sub-regional landscape habitat designs for sustaining: representative/surrogate species; rare fish, wildlife and plant species; and important and resilient ecosystems and geophysical features;
  • working more closely with practitioners to understand their decision needs and to collaboratively apply and test these regional and sub-regional designs;
  • incorporating local knowledge, needs and values into conservation designs;
  • cross-walking  designs with other regional and state conservation systems to identify the most effective way to complement existing knowledge and approaches; and
  • piloting a watershed-scale landscape conservation design process with regional context in the Connecticut River watershed.

Consensus on the LCC’s involvement and role in working with the Department of the Interior, its bureaus, and the broader conservation community to increase coordination among Hurricane Sandy resiliency science projects. This includes a portion of Interior’s recently announced $162 million investment in 45 projects throughout the region impacted by Sandy, as well as science projects funded previously by DOI.  LCC partners also agreed to identify resiliency science needs not yet addressed through funded projects and to work collaboratively on proposals for the competitive grant process managed by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The Foundation will look to the LCC for guidance on priority science needs and priority areas for future investments in restoration.

Strong agreement on the importance of having an organized program of science "delivery" – the translation of science into usable conservation planning tools for on-the-ground conservation decisions.  Next steps include:

  • adding additional capacity for translating science and data to meet user needs and providing technical assistance on landscape conservation science
  • a grants program supporting demonstration projects to encourage partners and partnerships to use, test, or develop applications of data/tools and providing initial support for partners to provide technical assistance to local communities and other groups, and
  • organizing and customizing spatial data and other information relevant to specific geographies and partnerships.

Support for a comprehensive communications framework that provides for consistent messaging on the North Atlantic LCC and underscores its value and relevance through use of real stories and examples. The communications framework will be aligned with the LCC’s science delivery program to ensure that users understand, have access to and can apply the best science available to inform conservation decisions and actions.

Funding for projects that meet fundamental science needs in the region while leveraging additional funding in these areas. Approved proposals include compiling and adding to vernal pool mapping efforts across the Northeast and a comprehensive and consistent approach to identifying, categorizing and prioritizing road stream crossings for aquatic connectivity and resiliency to future floods.

While Steering Committee members grappled with questions on how to translate regional landscape-scale conservation designs into conservation delivery at state and local levels, the partners expressed strong support for the LCC’s overall direction, functionality and evolution.

“We’ve taken conservation from the ER to a family practice,” said Jim Connolly, Director of Resource Management for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Others said the LCC’s diversity of partners and collaborative support of a landscape conservation approach helped advance state initiatives that otherwise might stall.

“Together we can accomplish much more than any of us can accomplish alone,” said Patty Riexinger, Director, Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources (NY DEC) and Steering Committee vice-chair.

The meeting signaled an expanding role for the LCC, beyond providing science products and tools for conservation planning and design to more actively helping users apply those products and tools at various scales throughout the Northeast.

Click here to view the meeting agenda, list of participants and supporting handouts and presentations.

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