Public lands planning

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Peggy Jo Nadler
Realty Specialist
U.S. Forest Service

Peggy used Blueprint 2.1 to inform the Land Ownership Adjustment Strategy (LOAS) for Francis Marion and Sumter National Forests, a partner-driven plan identifying restoration and protection opportunities. She also referenced the Blueprint in a Land and Water Conservation Fund 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.

Enhancing threatened species habitat and monitoring

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Terry Peacock
Refuge Manager, St. Marks and St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuges
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Terry referenced the Conservation Blueprint and South Atlantic ecosystem indicators in a successful Cooperative Recovery Initiative grant proposal to conserve threatened frosted flatwoods salamander populations on St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. The funding will support prescribed burning, salamander surveys, feral hog control, and water quality monitoring. The decline of the salamander is a local symptom of the broader decline in longleaf pine communities across the Southeast. The area around St. Marks is a high priority in the Blueprint and scores highly in the South Atlantic pine and prairie amphibians indicator.

Conserving private lands near military bases

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Michelle Lovejoy
Executive Director
NC Foundation for Soil & Water Conservation

Working with a coalition of state, nonprofit, and military partners, Michelle referenced the Blueprint and ecosystem indicators in a successful Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) proposal through the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). The funding will support voluntary conservation, restoration, and sustainable management projects on private lands near military bases across Georgia, North Carolina, and Mississippi. The projects are designed to benefit at-risk species, military readiness, and local economies at sites within “Sentinel Landscapes” where Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, and Department of Interior priorities overlap. Conservation measures include protecting working forestlands from conversion to non-forest uses, prescribed burning, and conservation easements focused primarily on longleaf pine and associated species like the pine snake, gopher tortoise, and red-cockaded woodpecker. The aquatic and terrestrial indicators underlying the Blueprint will model the resulting benefits to ecosystem health.

Assessing habitat ahead of major disasters

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Keith Walls
GIS Analyst/Environmental Scientist
Dial Cordy and Associates, Inc.

Drawing on lessons learned in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) recognized the need to identify conservation priorities before the next disaster strikes. To inform future project funding, NFWF sponsored a rapid assessment of fish and wildlife habitat across the broader South Atlantic region and locally within the Cape Fear River watershed, based only on existing data. The South Atlantic LCC helped connect Keith with a coalition of partners who collaborated on a successful proposal, including the Cape Fear River Partnership, NatureServe, and the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program. The assessment anchored the Cape Fear River watershed prioritization around Natural Heritage data, and anchored the broader South Atlantic prioritization around Conservation Blueprint 2.0 and the Florida Critical Lands and Waters Identification Project (CLIP). Efforts to integrate spatial priorities across the boundaries of neighboring LCCs through the Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy (SECAS) laid the groundwork for quickly combining Blueprint 2.0 with Florida CLIP.

Longleaf pine management

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Vince Carver
Deputy Regional Fire Management Chief
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Working with colleagues and collaborators, Vince submitted a proposal for Department of Interior Wildland Fire Resilient Landscapes funding in the South Atlantic LCC geography. The Blueprint, ecological indicators, and strong partner relationships helped demonstrate the project’s importance and secure $1.75 million for the first two years alone. The funds will support prescribed burning in priority longleaf pine focus areas, benefiting rare species like the red-cockaded woodpecker.

Coastal wetlands protection

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Eamonn Leonard
Nongame Natural Resources Biologist
Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Eamonn used the Blueprint in a coastal wetlands grant proposal to help justify protecting the Altamaha Connector, one of the gaps remaining in the conservation of the lower Altamaha River in the Georgia Coastal Plain. The parcel is a climate-resilient biodiversity hotspot likely to continue supporting biodiversity into the future. The proposal successfully received funding from the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program, along with another 2015 proposal citing priority in Blueprint 2.0, which will protect part of the Musgrove Plantation on St. Simons Island. In total, the $2 million awarded will help protect over 1,500 acres of habitat important for estuarine-dependent fish and imperiled plant and animal species.

National Wildlife Refuge planning

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Pam Wingrove
Natural Resources Planner
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Pam is using the Conservation Blueprint to inform land protection planning for National Wildlife Refuges on the Albermarle-Pamlico Peninsula of North Carolina, including Pocosin Lakes and Roanoke River. The Blueprint helps her demonstrate the importance of areas to include within the new Refuge acquisition boundaries and provide landscape context for the planning efforts. She has also used the Blueprint to show national funding sources like the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service uses a regional lens to inform its Refuge planning.

Riparian forest and coastal wetlands protection

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Anna Smith
State Wildlife Grants Coordinator
SC Department of Natural Resources

Anna referenced Blueprint 2.0 in a Forest Legacy grant proposal that secured over $1 million to fund the protection of almost 1,000 acres of forest alongside the Savannah River, with high-quality pine and forested wetland habitat ideally positioned to connect to a nearby Wildlife Management Area and Sumter National Forest. She also referred to Blueprint 2.0 in a successful National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program proposal for $1 million to protect 400 acres on South Fenwick Island off the South Carolina coast. The project area is part of the ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve and is highest priority in Blueprint 2.0 due to the integrity of its maritime forest and estuaries.

Climate-smart wildlife management

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Beth Stys
Research Administrator
FL Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission

Beth used the Blueprint in a State Wildlife Grant application to successfully obtain funding for climate adaptation for wildlife and habitat management in the highest-priority Big Bend region of Florida. This project will coordinate implementation of climate adaptation strategies with state Wildlife Management Areas, a local National Wildlife Refuge, and Peninsular Florida LCC.

Fish passage barrier removal

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Mark Cantrell
Fish & Wildlife Biologist
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Mark typically focuses his fish passage and hydrologic barrier removal efforts in pristine watersheds. But, the convergence of three different landscape-scale plans—the Conservation Blueprint, a U.S. FWS Fisheries strategic watershed plan, and an American Rivers dam removal prioritization tool—recently steered him to less pristine Piedmont basins like parts of the Cape Fear and Yadkin-Pee Dee, where restoration opportunities abound for migratory fishes.

National Forest planning

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Mary Morrison
Forest Planner
U.S. Forest Service

Mary has already used the Conservation Blueprint to inform the revision of the Francis Marion National Forest Plan. At public meetings, the Blueprint provides context to demonstrate to stakeholders the forest’s significance in the larger landscape. The Blueprint helps her determine the impact on the Francis Marion of future threats like climate change and urbanization.

Ecosystem-based fishery management

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Roger Pugliese
Senior Fishery Biologist
South Atlantic Fishery Management Council

Roger plans to integrate the Conservation Blueprint with the SAFMC’s Fishery Ecosystem Plan revision. Ensuring compatibility between the Blueprint and the Plan will better link habitats, species outcomes, and fishery regulations, enabling the Council to more effectively implement ecosystem-based management. As progress toward this goal, the Council has adopted an official policy of proactively working with the South Atlantic LCC and Southeast Climate Science Center to adapt to climate change.

Wetlands protection

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Maria Whitehead
Winyah Bay and Pee Dee River Basin Director
The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy and many partners are engaged in land protection and acquisition efforts. Maria used the Blueprint in North American Wetlands Conservation Act program grant applications to describe how proposed projects fit into larger conservation initiatives, how they will be impacted by climate change, and whether they support priority habitats and species. The Blueprint provides an objective tool for assessing the merits of candidate projects through a regional lens.

What conservation efforts are you involved in?

This could be you! Have you used the Blueprint, or do you want staff support? Contact Blueprint User Support at 919-707-0252 or southatlanticlcc@gmail.com.