Last week the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership Science and Data Committee (SARP SDC) met in Atlanta to discuss potential changes to the structure and function of the Science and Data Committee. Following development of the five southeastern Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs), the role of SARP is changing in the biological planning arena. In the past, the SARP SDC has played an active role in aquatic planning, as well as, funding conservation delivery. However, in an attempt to avoid duplication of effort and drive development of meaningful aquatic tools across the Southeast, SARP will now entrust aquatic biological planning to occur on the LCC forum.

In order to facilitate SARP needs between and among the LCCs, the SDC discussed a formalization of SARP-SDC representatives that serve as liaisons between SARP and the five Landscape Conservation Cooperatives. The liaisons are tasked with bringing the science needs of SARP to the biological planning table within each partnership forum. The liaisons will also communicate regularly with one another, to ensure consistency across the LCCs and back to the SARP SDC to report on progress and receive input as needed.

As a result of these changes, the SARP SDC will work on shifting emphasis to interpreting the data that is developed through the LCC forum (e.g. prioritization tools) and will use these data to determine appropriate conservation design and guide implementation of conservation delivery based on the objectives of the Southeast Aquatic Habitat Plan. In addition, the SARP SDC discussed implementing several conservation projects this year, including validating the existing aquatic assessments, and examining and updating the aquatic targets set by SARP to incorporate newly available aquatic data and in consideration of LCC aquatic indicators being developed. The next SARP steering committee meeting is being planned for spring.