On August 21st, I attended the 3rd annual meeting for the Partnership for Gulf Coast Land Conservation in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The Partnership, formed with assistance from the Land Trust Alliance, is a coalition of land conservation organizations and trusts working across the 5 Gulf States. Following the tragedy of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, land conservation organizations in the Gulf Coast wanted to find a way to contribute to discussions about regional recovery and restoration. The formation of this coalition of local, regional, state, and national organizations elevated discussions about the important role that voluntary land protection can play in recovery and restoration efforts. As the Partnership’s website says, this coalition “is helping land trusts in the region have an effective voice regarding how the money will be spent for real, meaningful and lasting restoration.”
Their 3rd annual meeting demonstrated how far the Partnership has come in solidifying their coalition with representatives attending from all 5 Gulf States. The meeting focused on how the Partnership and its members can impact policy and funding decisions, build relationships with federal and state agencies as well as other organizations, and conduct landscape scale conservation planning. The Partnership, recognizing the potential role Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) can play to help them achieve these priorities, invited the Gulf LCCs to give a presentation.
In my role as the Gulf Coast Landscape Conservation Liaison, I attended the meeting to represent the four LCCs that share the Gulf Coast region. My presentation focused on providing an overview of the mission of the LCCs, the partnership between NOAA and the LCCs for the Gulf Coast, and examples of how each Gulf LCC is advancing landscape conservation science and planning with a variety of partners. The presentation is available online and the Partnership will also make other presentations from the meeting available soon on their website. The discussion throughout the day’s agenda built on several ideas for bringing together land protection priorities of Partnership members to develop a regional strategy for the Gulf of Mexico. Specific next steps are being developed by their leadership based on the ideas generated during their meeting.
I came away from the meeting very encouraged by the dedication of the Partnership members to advancing land conservation in the region and excited about the opportunities to work together on shared goals. As they continue to refine their collective priorities and next steps, I’m certain that the Partnership for Gulf Coast Land Conservation will be an important partner for the Gulf Landscape Conservation Cooperatives.