I’m really excited about the improvements in this next version of the Blueprint. Even though we’re still in the middle of running models, there are a few things that already seem clear.

Much better approach for urban open space: In the upland hardwood ecosystem, Blueprint 2.0 was only really capturing a few very large parks near cities. So far the latest runs are pulling out more parks, key riparian areas, places with potential for future parks, and even ecologically important parts of greenways.

Big improvements in freshwater aquatic priorities and terrestrial / aquatic linkages: Blueprint 2.0 had a hard time capturing a number of key places for aquatic endemics. With the new aquatic diversity hotspots indicator and a new approach that uses the active river area to combine upland and freshwater indicators, the results for Blueprint 2.1 are looking much better.

Accounting for seasonality and uncertainty in the marine environment: For version 2.1, we’ll probably only be able to do this for the marine mammal indicator. This approach incorporates monthly time steps and spatially explicit uncertainty in the prioritization. For all you nerds out there, it’s using information-gap decision theory to incorporate the uncertainty. This will be a good chance to preview some new methods for dealing with time and uncertainty in the Blueprint.  In the future, I’m hoping we can apply it to other ecosystems to work on issues like restoration, early successional habitat, and wetland migration corridors.

Better overlap with state based priority layers: So far I’ve only looked at Florida CLIP and the NC Natural Heritage Program. For Florida CLIP, there’s improved overall overlap, but I’m still expecting some disagreements in panther corridors that run through pine plantations. For NC Natural Heritage Program Natural Areas, there’s been a big improvement. This is mostly due to the improvements in the aquatic priorities. I’ll be looking at other state layers over the next few weeks. Feel free to send me any you’d like me to test against.

Timeline:

  • 1st week in May: Draft version released for review. Comments open for everyone
  • May – June 1: Individual and group review sessions with targeted individuals
  • May – June 1: Staff improve draft based on comments
  • May 19 – Overview and review during Third Thursday Web Forum. Review open to everyone.
  • June 6 Steering Committee Meeting – Approval of version 2.1
  • June – July: Updating blueprint viewers and metadata to reflect version 2.1