Photo courtesy of Christine Ellis, Winyah Rivers Foundation

First, let’s look at Blueprint use by the numbers! More than 100 people from 45 different organizations have used, or are in the process of using, the Blueprint. And the Blueprint has informed at least $19.7 million of conservation investment, 99% of which supported on-the-ground actions like acquisitions, incentives, or management. Keep in mind, that’s only counting the examples we know about! Plenty of people are using the Blueprint on their own without help from staff, so those are all conservative estimates.

Now, it’s been awhile since we all sat down around the virtual campfire and heard stories about the great ways folks have been using the Blueprint lately. With the facts and figures out of the way, get comfortable, and let’s look back on some of the highlights from Blueprint 2.1!

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission used the Blueprint and ecosystem indicators to strengthen a coastal wetlands grant application that secured the final $1 million needed to acquire a 3,000-acre parcel of forested wetlands on the Waccamaw River of NC. The proposal was submitted in collaboration with the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust. In addition to enhancing a significant conservation corridor, this project will add 1,009 acres of game lands open to the public for fishing, hunting, hiking and wildlife observation and provide a new canoe/kayak landing for public access to the Waccamaw River Blue Trail. The entire tract is highest priority in the Blueprint, which is a truly exceptional score! It supports habitat for priority amphibians and reptiles, the federally threatened Waccamaw silverside fish and wood stork, and other at-risk aquatic and terrestrial species. By protecting more than 7 miles of riverfront habitat and riparian buffers, this project preserves ecological integrity, improves connectivity, and supports water quality by complementing other ongoing conservation efforts in the Waccamaw River watershed.

The U.S. Forest Service in South Carolina used the Blueprint to inform the Land Ownership Adjustment Strategy (LOAS) for Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests. The LOAS is a partner-driven plan identifying restoration and protection opportunities. The Blueprint also supported a Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) proposal to acquire more than 3,500 acres of highest and high priority Blueprint areas, which would expand the U.S. Forest Service’s conservation legacy in South Carolina and begin implementation of the LOAS. That LWCF application successfully brought in $1.6 million for land acquisition!

In its third year, funding from the DOI Wildland Fire Resilient Landscapes program grew to a grand total of $3 million! As you may remember, the Blueprint, ecosystem indicators, and strong partner relationships in the cooperative helped bring that funding to the South Atlantic to support burning in priority longleaf pine focus areas. That investment has supported prescribed burning in priority longleaf pine focus areas on federal, state, nonprofit, and private lands. The indicators also served as metrics for reporting back on the impacts of prescribed burns on the integrity of the pine system.

Those are just three great examples of how Blueprint 2.1 was used. Staff have another 41 ongoing uses currently in progress, so there are a lot more to come!  If you haven’t already, take a look at the “Who’s Using the Blueprint” page. I think of it as a Who’s Who in Blueprint users! I hope some of the stories will inspire some new ideas about how the Blueprint can help advance your work. If you want assistance using the Blueprint, please reach out to me at hilary_morris@fws.gov or 919-707-0252.