Big thanks to the 91 people from 45 different organizations that helped review the draft Blueprint update for the U.S. Caribbean and the offshore Atlantic and Gulf. That feedback has been essential in prioritizing what we work on improving before this year’s update is final. We got 59 different spatial comments during the workshops. Those comments included places that looked good, were under or overprioritized, or highlighted areas where people had questions.
Based on those comments, here are the improvements we’ve been working on:
- Improved indicator for Gulf coral and hardbottom (including new data sources for things like coral locations, artificial reefs, and shipwrecks).
- Updating the Gulf marine mammal indicator based on models from GoMMAPPS.
- Improved indicator for Atlantic coral and hardbottom (including new data sources for things like coral mounds in the Blake Plateau, coral locations, artificial reefs, and shipwrecks).
Gulf and Atlantic
- New indicator for highly migratory marine fish based on models for bluefin tuna, skipjack tuna, and blue shark.
- Improved indicators for habitat patch size and landscape condition. There were multiple places in St. Thomas and St. Croix where wetlands and important large habitat patches were being underprioritized. Based on early testing, it looks like these indicator improvements will fix most or all of those underprioritized areas highlighted both in the May and February workshops.
- Small improvement in greenways and trails indicator to fix a road on the east side of St. Croix that’s now a trail.
- New indicator for karst habitat.
I can’t say for sure yet if all these improvements will make it in the final Blueprint, but there’s a good chance they will. Just like we do every year, we’ll try to fix as many things as we can and then document what we can’t fix in the Blueprint “known issues”. The final version of the 2023 Southeast Conservation Blueprint will come out in October.
Want to know more about who came to the workshop and hear about the results from the polls? Read Hilary’s blog.