Blueprint 2.1 Overview

Blueprint 2.1 is the latest data-driven update to the Conservation Blueprint. It uses similar overall methods as Version 2.0. It incorporates improved data for some of the indicators and address known issues identified in Blueprint 2.0.

Major improvements

Improved priorities for at-risk aquatics: Blueprint 2.1 incorporates a new aquatic diversity hotspot indicator that better captures areas important for threatened, endangered, and at-risk species. Other aquatic indicator improvements include: riparian buffers (improved), permeable surface (improved), migratory fish (new), and network complexity (new).

New approach for aquatic integration: All freshwater aquatic and waterscapes indicators, except permeable surface, are now applied only within the active river area instead of the entire watershed. This allows the aquatic and terrestrial indicators to be run through the modeling process simultaneously.

Better incorporation of historic resources: The low-urban historic landscapes indicator now includes urban historic places in the scoring. While historic places are not scored as highly when surrounded by urban development, the improved indicator now recognizes the increased importance of these historical landscapes when compared with urban areas of less historical significance.

Better urban priorities: Due to the new approach to aquatic integration, the improved low-urban historic landscapes indicator, and revisions to the urban open space indicator, Blueprint 2.1 does a much better job of capturing priorities within urban areas. The improved urban open space indicator better captures protected urban open space in most states (see known issues) and also assigns a higher priority to urban areas lacking nearby protected lands, reflecting the need to ensure equitable access to open space for all urban residents.

Better estuarine and marine priorities: Blueprint 2.1 includes major improvements to the marine priorities, primarily due to an updated marine mammals indicator that incorporates seasonality and uncertainty. Estuarine priorities have also improved due to an updated coastal condition index indicator that now uses data from both the 2010 and 2006 Coastal Condition Assessment.

Filled in “other” ecosystem category: Some areas, particularly agricultural locations in Eastern NC, didn’t fit well into our ecosystem classification rules for Blueprint 2.0. In Blueprint 2.1, those areas are filled in with the appropriate ecosystem type.

Increased incorporation of working lands: In Blueprint 2.1, some categorical indicators were recalculated as continuous to improve the model optimization process. Primarily as a result of making resilient biodiversity hotspots continuous, many working lands that were not included in the previous version of the Blueprint but identified as important in Blueprint workshops are now prioritized in Blueprint 2.1.

Better alignment with neighboring LCCs and other priority layers: Mostly due to the improved depiction of aquatic resources and working lands, Blueprint 2.1 integrates much more seamlessly with the Florida Critical Lands Identification Project (CLIP) and NC Significant Natural Heritage Areas. Improved integration with other priority layers is likely but has not yet been tested on the recent draft.

Review and provide feedback on Draft Blueprint 2.1

Major known issues

  • Some aquatic areas, particularly smaller rivers and streams, are over-prioritized. The new aquatic diversity hotspot indicator is at a subwatershed (HUC12) scale while the species hotspots it seeks to depict are often only a part of that subwatershed.
  • Some aquatic areas important for migratory fish are being under-prioritized in areas far upstream due to issues in the migratory fish indicator.
  • The eastern part of right whale calving ground (off the coast of Georgia and Florida) is under-prioritized. Current right whale models are under-predicting density in that area. Model improvements based on additional data are underway. New right whale models are expected by Fall/Winter 2016.
  • Piedmont prairie areas are under-prioritized. These are not well captured with current indicators and depicting condition and extent of this ecosystem continues to pose a challenge.
  • Urban open space is poorly captured in Georgia and South Carolina. The TNC Secured Lands database is currently missing many urban protected areas in these states. The 2015 updated of the Secured Lands database, due for release later in 2016, will fill in many of these missing urban protected areas.
  • Congaree National Park is under-prioritized. This is likely due to the Forested Wetland Bird Indicator under-predicting Swainson’s Warbler in the area.
  • Historic landscapes have too strong of an effect on corridors in some areas. This is leading some corridor routes to go through overly developed areas at the expense of slightly longer but more suitable routes.

Review


Timeline

  • May 9 – June 1: Staff worked to improve Blueprint 2.1 draft based on reviews and feedback
  • June 1: Draft review deadline (comments after this date are also helpful, but will become known issues to address in future revisions)
  • June 6: Steering Committee approved Blueprint 2.1 conditional on adding back in marine corridors and a small tweak to how Blueprint is displayed
  • July 6: Steering Committee approved of new marine corridors and display tweaks. Blueprint 2.1 now fully approved.
  • August: Official Blueprint release. Simple Viewer updated for Blueprint 2.1. Metadata and all GIS layers available on Conservation Planning Atlas