You are here: Home / News & Events / All News Items / NOAA's Ellen Mecray sees room for more at LCC table

NOAA's Ellen Mecray sees room for more at LCC table

The Eastern Regional Climate Services Director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration values the LCC for bringing regional fish and wildlife managers together in the same room, and hopes to see partners from others sectors invited to join the conversation.

When the head of the eastern region for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recommended that Ellen Mecray get involved with a nascent regional partnership called the Landscape Conservation Cooperative in 2011, she was pleasantly surprised to learn that LCC coordinator Andrew Milliken had been in her graduate program at the University of Rhode Island. But as NOAA’s Eastern Regional Climate Services Director, Mecray said the value of her involvement with the LCC is not in finding familiar faces, but in reaching new partners across the region.  

“We are trying to work with partners in as many sectors as possible to increase awareness of NOAA’s climate information, and provide technical assistance for using it,” said Mecray. Partners ranging from the Northeast Regional Ocean Council (NROC) to state health and human services agencies that can help disseminate information to residents about winter heating. She said as a regional convener of conservation agencies and organizations, the LCC offers a means of connecting decision makers across the region with NOAA information that has direct applications for conservation.

“One of the benefits to being on the LCC Steering Committee is that it provides access to multiple states at the same time, and our regions are very similar,” she said, pointing out that NOAA’s Eastern Region spans from South Carolina to Maine. In addition to the North Atlantic LCC, she sits on the Steering Committees for the South Atlantic and Appalachian LCCs, which altogether cover the full geographic range under her purview.

Mecray said sitting down with many managers in one room provides an opportunity to understand first hand what they need in order to make decisions, and then to connect them with the right information, and find a place for them in relevant projects.

However Mecray said she thinks there is room to grow at the LCC table. “There is a real opportunity to think across sectors, and that has started a little bit with the LCC bringing in groups like NROC, but there are many others that could bring valuable interdisciplinary perspective.”

That’s where the networking potential represented by the Steering Committee comes in handy. “There are groups that I am involved with that can bring in that critical multi-sector perspective, and I would hope that the LCC takes advantage of all of its members and the trusted relationships they have formed to gain access to new groups.”

And while gathering partners around the same table is the critical first step for collaboration, Mecray pointed out that real progress demands knowing what each partner brings to the table, and facilitating opportunities for them to exchange information. “I would like to hear more discussion about what federal partners bring to the LCC that could be useful to state managers,” she said. “There may be additional information from agencies like NOAA and the Environmental Protection Agency that would be useful to them, and would make it more meaningful for us to be there as well.”

It is these kinds of frank conversations about identifying needs and figuring out how best to address them that are most personally rewarding to Mecray. “I had a kind of ‘Dawn breaks over Marblehead’ moment at the North Atlantic LCC technical committee meeting,” she said, explaining, “That’s where the real discussion happens about turning requirements into projects, and I am the kind of person who needs to know the background information, to understand what went into an analysis.”

For Mecray, a successful partnership demands that all parties are similarly able to find what they need from it, and answer the all-important question: Why am I here?

“This takes a lot of time, but I can say it has been good for NOAA to be involved,” said Mecray. “It has been good for our work with the Fish and Wildlife Service, and I see real opportunities to leverage this partnership in the future.”

Document Actions