Wednesday, May 8, 2019
by Rua Mordecai, Coordinator for the Southeast and South Atlantic Blueprints
Last month, Addie’s blog talked about the Southeast Regional Partnership for Planning and Sustainability (SERPPAS) Good Map project. The idea is for the Good Map to serve as a visual way for diverse partners to identify overlapping interests and areas for collaboration where they could get mutual benefits. Sounds familiar, right? Mallory and I have been involved in SERPPAS for awhile, but this project in particular seemed like a perfect fit for the Blueprint. Addie already mentioned that the Blueprint is being included in the Good Map, but I thought I’d follow up with some more detail on the benefits to the Blueprint and Blueprint users.
Benefit #1: More potential Blueprint users – This is the most obvious one. As a plan for shared conservation action, the more people that use the Blueprint, the more powerful it becomes.
Benefit #2: New data to improve the Blueprint – We’re always on the lookout for better data to improve the Blueprint. This is a good chance to hear about other data available that we could use to improve the indicators.
Benefit #3: Data on co-benefits for the military mission, agriculture, and renewable energy – Whether you’re a Blueprint user and working for the military, agriculture, or conservation, these new data layers can help you make a more compelling case for your actions. If you like to do things on your own, there’ll be a web portal for you to access all the data. If you’d like some help, Blueprint user support staff can help integrate this information into proposals or your organization’s priorities! Just visit the contact page and reach out to the user support lead for your state.
Monday, May 6, 2019
by Hilary Morris, User Support and Communications for the Southeast and South Atlantic Blueprints
This fall’s SEAFWA annual conference will be held from October 27-30th in Hilton Head, SC. This year, the conference will include three special symposia with connections to SECAS. If you’re thinking of attending, consider marking your calendar!
The SECAS 10% Goal: How Do We Get There?
- Mallory Martin (SECAS Coordinator)
- Todd Ewing (NC Wildlife Resources Commission)
- Anna Smith (South Carolina Dept. of Natural Resources)
- Jessica Graham (Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership Coordinator)
Last fall, the SEAFWA Directors approved an overarching goal for SECAS: a 10% or greater improvement in the health, function, and connectivity of Southeastern ecosystems by 2060. This long-term goal also includes shorter-term metrics for different ecosystems across the Southeast. This symposium will discuss progress so far in tracking the goal, and what conservation actions may be needed to meet it. We will start by providing background on the SECAS initiative and sharing results on tracking progress toward the overarching goal. We will then explore challenges and opportunities for meeting the goal in two presentations, with one focused on terrestrial ecosystems and another focused on aquatic ecosystems. Next, we will highlight examples of how the Southeast Conservation Blueprint has been used to contribute to meeting the goal in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and showcase the latest updates to the Blueprint. Finally, we will consolidate the insights of the presenters and conclude with a group discussion of what’s working well, what isn’t, and next steps needed to achieve the SECAS 10% goal.
Responding to SEAFWA’s Wildlife Management Needs at the Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center
- Nils Peterson (NC State University)
- Mallory Martin & Louise Vaughn (Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy)
- Ryan Boyles (Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center)
- Bruce Stein (National Wildlife Federation)
This half-day session focuses on how Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center (SE-CASC) can respond to SEAFWA’s wildlife management needs, particularly needs linked to rapid urbanization, landscape fragmentation and inundation, and adapting to changing climates. The proposed session will include six talks (15 minutes with 5 minutes of questions) followed by a 1-hour facilitated discussion. Several of these presentations link directly to SECAS. Anna Smith (SC DNR) will describe a Regional Species of Greatest Conservation Need project, which is a collaborative initiative to develop a targeted list of SGCN species for the SEAFWA geography that will encourage cross-jurisdictional conservation action for priority species and contribute to the SECAS vision. Louise Vaughn (SECAS) will describe the SECAS initiative and describe cases where states used the Southeast Conservation to help implement conservation actions in response to climate change. Adam Terando (SE-CASC) will present results from the latest modeling work in support of SECAS, and how it can inform risk management in prescribed fire programs. Lydia Olander (Duke) will describe ecosystem service mapping that has been conducted for 10 states within the CASC region, opportunities to include all states in future mapping, and highlight potential uses of this data (including applications to the Southeast Blueprint).
The State of Conservation Social Sciences in the Southeast: Highlighting a Growing Field
- Nia Morales (FL Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission)
- Betsey York (OK Dept. of Wildlife Conservation)
- Wylie Carr (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
- Ashley Gramza (AR Game & Fish Commission)
- Marianne Hudson (AL Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources)
- Ken Wallen (University of AR at Monticello)
Natural resources agencies and conservation organizations have made concerted efforts over the past decade to increase the visibility of and capacity for social science. Several state and federal agencies, as well as private conservation organizations, have hired research social scientists or human dimensions (HD) specialists who develop research and programmatic initiative to address the complex relationship between stakeholders and natural resources. This session will highlight those efforts and the growth of the field by focusing on HD initiatives implemented across the Southeast region. This session will feature a panel discussion and presentations to share social science tools and emphasize how to apply social science to improve agency-stakeholder relations and natural resource management decision-making. Wylie Carr with the U.S. FWS will highlight intersections between SECAS and regional social science approaches to better understand how people connect to the natural world.
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
by Rachel Greene, Research Associate, and Kristine Evans, Assistant Professor, at Mississippi State University
with support from:
Greg Wathen, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
Mallory Martin, Hilary Morris, & Todd Jones-Farrand, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Henry Horton State Park in Tennessee, where the workshop was held. Photo by Michael Hicks/Flickr. CC BY-ND 2.0.
Tennessee’s forestry and wildlife agencies are tasked with managing the state’s forest and wildlife resources to meet a list of increasing demands for a growing population. Both the Tennessee Division of Forestry and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency have developed statewide assessments and action plans. These plans identify a number of shared priorities, and collaborative actions can result in synergistic accomplishments that neither agency would be able to achieve on its own.
The “Aligning Southern Conservation Priorities” team hosted a workshop on March 29th directed at a deep exploration of three disparate but related conservation planning frameworks: The TN State Wildlife Action Plan, the TN Forest Resource Assessment and Strategy, and the Southeast Blueprint. Through this exploration, we reviewed available data products and tools, explored areas of alignment and mis-alignment and their reasons, and identified potential themes for future development and collaboration. Topics included:
- Evaluating development threats to Conservation Opportunity Areas
- Riparian buffer restoration
- Coastal Plain expansion and associated species range shifts
- Future conflicts between urbanization and prescribed fire priorities
During and following the workshop, attendees expressed interest in three areas and identified associated action steps:
- Identify how the Southeast Blueprint, along with other regional datasets, can be integrated into state action plans to enable Tennessee’s state agencies to secure additional funds.
- Continue exploring datasets about riparian buffers, fire, future urbanization, and the wildland-urban interface in support of Tennessee’s upcoming Forest Action Plan revision.
- Dig deeper into amphibian and reptile species range shifts in response to climate change, particularly across state lines and for species of greatest conservation need.
SECAS governance - Refining an organizational model to sustain collaborative conservation in the Southeast
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
by Mallory Martin, Coordinator for the Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy
The SECAS initiative has achieved a noteworthy record of conservation accomplishment since its inception in 2011, including the Southeast Conservation Blueprint v.3.0, adoption of an overarching goal and step-down metrics, and successful completion of a number of symposia, workshops, and technical sessions advancing collaborative conservation across the Southeast.
When SECAS began, LCC partnership networks and steering committees provided much of the technical support and coordination functions for SECAS. Since then, dedicated support for LCCs nationwide was substantially reduced, resulting in most LCCs disassembling or transitioning to new organizational structures. Due to these changes in the Southeast, some of the decision-making and directional guidance for SECAS that arose through the LCC partnerships and their extended networks is no longer available. To fill that gap, SECAS must refine its organizational structures and governance if it is to realize its full potential as a collective approach to addressing the conservation challenges of importance in the Southeast.
Additionally, the 2018 Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) resolution on Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Landscape Scales recognizes “the need to establish durable partnerships with strong governance structures that include relevant, engaged and contributing governmental members, private conservation organizations, private landowners, academic institutions and other partners…” This recognition is specific and timely guidance in support of formalizing the governance structures within SECAS that will ensure its sustainability and success into the future.
In 2018, Ed Carter, Executive Director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, requested the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to work with the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) specifically to collaborate in development of a best practices report on effective governance approaches for landscape conservation initiatives. To that end, the Science Applications program of the FWS drafted a scope of work for a project to address specific governance issues and needs regarding SECAS. The project, which is expected to begin this spring, is a collaborative effort between FWS and the Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Policy at the University of Montana, directed toward the following tasks and deliverables:
Conduct research on different governance structures currently in use by landscape scale conservation efforts across the country.
Develop a practitioner’s guide based on the research findings, to include a succinct summary of different governance models that includes benefits, drawbacks, and other considerations as well as examples for different governance structures.
Facilitate meetings with SECAS leadership to further their understanding and application of the research findings to advance the core purpose and objective of SECAS.
At the spring 2019 SEAFWA business meeting, the Directors established a subcommittee to participate in and provide guidance to this collaborative governance project and related actions to strengthen the SECAS initiative. The subcommittee of state Directors will review and approve any final recommendations from the project and oversee their implementation. The subcommittee will also report on its actions as appropriate at the fall and spring SEAFWA business meetings.
Monday, April 15, 2019
by Addie Thornton, Coordinator for the Southeast Partnership for Planning and Sustainability, Texas A&M Natural Resources Institute
The Southeast Regional Partnership for Planning and Sustainability (better known as SERPPAS) has been collaborating at the intersection of protecting military readiness, conserving natural and working lands and sustaining communities for the last 14 years. The critical equation for accomplishing this mission in the Southeast region (AL, FL, GA, MS, NC, SC) has been to build effective working relationships between the partners, which include State and Federal agencies that have responsibilities for natural resources, working lands and military readiness. This means cultivating relationships built on mutual interest, mutual gain and mutual trust. In addition to these important relationships, the Partnership also utilizes good data and good maps to ensure that good decisions are made to advance the missions of all partners. All of this equates to the identification of overlapping priorities where multiple and mutual benefits can be found for all the partners. This is where SERPPAS finds success.
SERPPAS developed a Strategic Plan for 2018 - 2020 to focus their efforts and serve as a road map for success. Over the last year, SERPPAS has focused on developing the ‘Good Map’ in order to better implement some of the objectives from the plan. For the purposes of this effort, SERPPAS defined ‘Good Map’ as a term that implies the use of good data to depict the priorities of a diverse group of partners in a visual way (on a map or many maps) to identify overlapping interests as well as areas where collaboration for mutual benefits can be achieved. While being able to depict all the partner missions on a map sounds really great, SERPPAS recognized that, without some specific questions that the partners wanted to answer, simply mapping all the different priorities (there are quite a few) would end up being a mess and not usable for real action.
The process SERPPAS used for the Good Map effort, thanks to support from the Southeast Conservation Blueprint as well as the REPI Map (Readiness & Environmental Protection Integration Program), was to identify some fundamental questions that spatial data could help answer, and pursue use cases based on that. This would help SERPPAS understand the specific data needed and potential gaps in data, as well as identify some fundamental areas where partners could take action to implement shared objectives.
The three fundamental questions and use cases that SERPPAS focused on for the Good Map effort were:
1) How much prescribed fire is being implemented in the Southeast; where is it occurring and for what purpose?
Use Case: Compile geospatial fire data at a regional scale and establish baseline/minimum data fields to track actual prescribed fire conducted annually to understand where we are today compared to state and regional goals, as well as current gaps where fire is needed, including areas around military installations.
2) What is the military mission footprint in the Southeast?
Use Case: Compile a military mission footprint to better depict the regional military mission, as it relates to land use change/compatibility impacting the test and training mission, to identify partnership priorities areas.
3) What and where is the shared risk in the coastal areas of the Southeast between installations and communities?
Use Case: Use existing data to identify areas of shared risk to infrastructure, coastal at-risk species, and water availability where SERPPAS can promote resilience efforts (planning, protection, risk assessment) that benefit installations, communities and habitats in the form of a pilot project(s).
These three fundamental questions will be critical in understanding the overarching information needed to identify where and how SERPPAS implements the objectives of the Strategic Plan. For example, a better regional understanding of where the military is interested in land and resource conservation is a fundamental layer of the SERPPAS Good Map, whether it be overlaid with species habitat suitability, wildfire risk or critical coastal resources. The SERPPAS Good Map is an ongoing effort, with work groups collaborating to understand next steps and move each of these topic areas forward. For now, the SERPPAS Good Map is a collaboration of already existing tools and data, incorporating layers from the Southeast Conservation Blueprint and the REPI Map, as this effort has been sustained by in-kind support from willing partners. However, as SERPPAS makes progress on answering these fundamental questions, it may become clear that a standalone SERPPAS mapping tool/application may need to be developed.
SERPPAS expects that this process will continue to help the partnership identify and implement strategic objectives that will benefit collective state and agency missions of the Southeast region. For more information on the overall effort, you can read the full SERPPAS Good Map White Paper here.
Thursday, March 7, 2019
by Mallory Martin, Coordinator for the Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy
The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) Landscape Conservation Working Group held a special session on Collaborative Landscape Conservation as part of the North American Fish and Wildlife Conference this week in Denver. This session followed an active year for the Working Group, which included completion of a white paper and an AFWA resolution on collaborative conservation at the landscape scale.
The session brought together leaders from non-governmental organizations as well as federal, state, and private partners to focus on the following critical elements:
- Learn about past and current landscape conservation initiatives
- Provide an opportunity for diverse partners to share expertise and insights
- Identify elements of a work plan for AFWA’s landscape conservation working group
The session opened with overviews of the history and trends in landscape scale conservation and recognition from the working group leadership of the need to advance collaborative conservation at the North American scale. An overview of the AFWA resolution emphasized the commonalities of action that mark successful collaborations, including appropriate recognition of states’ authorities in existing approaches and a focus on effective governance models. A series of lightning talks summarized regional approaches to landscape collaboratives from across North America. Greg Wathen, of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, is a member of the AFWA working group and provided the overview for SECAS.
Through break-out sessions, participants considered several overarching themes to provide feedback to the working group on next steps. These deliberations will help inform the working group’s future directions through development of a committee work plan. Session leaders and participants strongly favored continuing the efforts of the working group with deliberate emphasis on engaging diverse perspectives in developing a national framework for collaborative conservation. Stay tuned for continuing progress coming from the AFWA working group.
Thursday, March 7, 2019
by Hilary Morris, User Support and Communications for the Southeast and South Atlantic Blueprints
A new online user guide is available to help you use the Southeast Blueprint to support grants and inform decision-making. A companion guide is also available for the South Atlantic Blueprint, one of the subregional inputs to the Southeast Blueprint. While this blog will focus on the Southeast guide, if you want to learn more about the South Atlantic guide, check out this blog post on the South Atlantic website.
The user guide compiles different examples of real Blueprint uses to provide new ideas about how to connect to this larger strategy. For the last several years, staff have been helping individuals and organizations in the conservation community use the Blueprint. We’ve learned a lot about the types of approaches, wording, and maps that work best in different situations, and we want to share those lessons with you. The guide showcases a range of case studies, grouped into a few themes that summarize the primary ways people have used the Blueprint.
So who is this user guide for?
It’s for anyone who wants more detailed instructions on how to use the Blueprint on their own. As always, staff are still here to support you if you want help. But some folks prefer to work independently. If that sounds like you, this guide is intended to help you analyze and interpret the Blueprint, particularly if you need to demonstrate the conservation value of a parcel when writing a grant proposal. That’s one of the most common and straightforward Blueprint uses, so we dedicated an entire section to that topic. As user support staff, we generally follow a consistent template for parcel analysis, so we’ve written out all the steps.
It’s also for anyone who wants to see concrete examples to help them imagine how a plan like the Blueprint could apply to them. The user guide does more than tell general stories about helping “identify priorities” and “bring in fire funding”. It gets into the nitty-gritty details—how users filtered the Blueprint down to find the piece relevant to their question, how they reported out on urbanization impacts, what indicators they used to tell the unique story of their area. If that interests you, check out the case studies at the end of each section. We hope that they will inspire you to use the Blueprint in your work, in ways you may not have thought of before.
Of course, the user guide, like the Blueprint, is a work in progress. So what are the next steps? We welcome feedback on whether you find it helpful and what other information you might want to see. Would you like a a detailed GIS appendix explaining how to analyze raster datasets? More case studies? Something else? I’ll be walking through both the Southeast and South Atlantic user guides on a webinar on March 21st at 10 am. There will be plenty of time to discuss future improvements. Or, you can always contact me directly to share your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-707-0252.
Another longer-term next step—the Southeast Blueprint has many different subregional inputs. Someday. we hope to eventually release additional guides for each of the other inputs, not just the South Atlantic Blueprint, so you can get the most out of the underlying datasets.
Thursday, February 14, 2019
by Rua Mordecai, Coordinator for the Southeast and South Atlantic Blueprints
Southeast Blueprint Version 3.0 identifies high value areas for conservation and restoration across the Southeast and Caribbean.
Southeast Conservation Blueprint 3.0 data are now final and ready for you to use. The major improvements in this version include:
- Integration of new data from the Texas Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (CHAT): This fills in a gap in Texas and completes full coverage of the Southeast region.
- New data layer depicting Blueprint input and overlap areas: This will help you figure out which of the subregional Blueprint inputs cover your area of interest. Each of the inputs has more detailed information than what’s captured in the Southeast Blueprint. This layer can help identify where to look for more detailed information.
- Integrated hubs and corridors layer for the South Atlantic and Appalachian subregions: This brings together the hubs and corridors from each of these assessments into a single integrated layer. Work is underway to expand this layer to cover a broader area of the Southeast in a future update.
- Threats and land use change layers: This release includes solar energy suitability, urban growth, and sea-level rise inundation
- Improved documentation: We’ve greatly improved the detail in the documentation on how the Blueprint was put together. That includes both a pdf detailing the Blueprint development process and formal metadata used by various systems and databases that host and link to the Blueprint.
In addition, the draft version of Southeast Blueprint 3.0 released a few months ago included a small gap in coverage between the South Atlantic and Appalachian regions. We fixed this by making a slight technical adjustment to the boundary between those subregions. The spatial depiction of the Appalachian subregion in the Blueprint Input and Overlap Areas layer also reflects this update. That’s the only change in the data between the draft and final version.
You can explore and download the data in the Blueprint 3.0 Data Gallery on the Southeast Conservation Planning Atlas. All the layers and documentation are organized there for you.
If you’d like help using the Blueprint to inform your conservation decision, feel free to get in touch. It’s free and helping Blueprint users is an important part of what we do.
Want to use the Blueprint on your own but looking for some ideas and examples of how to use it? A user guide for the Southeast and South Atlantic Conservation Blueprints will be ready very soon. It’s a compilation of different examples to inspire you and provide new ideas about how to connect to this larger strategy. We’ve been supporting Blueprint users for several years now, and have learned a lot about the types of approaches, wording, and maps that are most helpful in different situations. The guide showcases detailed case studies, grouped into a few themes that summarize the primary ways people have used the Blueprint. We’re hoping to get it out as early as next month.
Friday, November 16, 2018
by Hilary Morris, Blueprint User Support & Communications for the Southeast and South Atlantic Blueprints
Up until now, news about the Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy (SECAS) has been scattered across multiple websites. We’re starting a SECAS blog so future updates will all come from the same place—right here! This adds a new dynamic element to the SECAS website, enabling it to capture not only static information about the initiative and the Blueprint, but also the latest progress and opportunities to get involved.
This is a fresh start for SECAS news, so if you want to take a trip down memory lane to learn more about past events, check out these blogs on the South Atlantic LCC website:
- 11/9/2018: SECAS at the Southeastern Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) annual meeting
- 11/9/2018: Goal for Southeastern ecosystems approved by state wildlife agency directors
- 10/4/2018: Identifying ambitious but achievable ecosystem goals for the Southeast
- 10/2/2018: Updated website for the Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy
- 8/29/2018: The Nature Conservancy in South Carolina uses the Southeast Blueprint to identify their statewide priorities
- 8/7/2018: Updated story map for the Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy
- 8/6/2018: The state of Southeastern ecosystems
- 7/6/2018: Coming this fall in the SECAS update…
- 4/4/2018: SECAS: A model for collaborative conservation
- 11/3/2017: 2017 Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy symposium at SEAFWA annual conference
- 6/29/2017: Upcoming Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy symposium
- 4/4/2017: Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy (SECAS) coordination
- 12/5/2016: SECAS Blueprint now on the Southeast Conservation Planning Atlas
- 11/4/2016: The Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy (SECAS) Leadership Summit
- 9/7/2016: The Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy emerges