No doubt some of you follow the stock market. You might even participate in other forms of gambling, such as dog racing or poker. The rewards and sustainability of these types of endeavors depend on risk—that is, the potential for downside results versus the potential for upside results. Evaluating risk usually involves dealing with various levels of uncertainty.
In the conservation world, we’re experiencing increasing levels of uncertainty in many areas of our daily work. This includes everything from issues related to long-term climate science to immediate concerns like how to adequately archive data. Yet these issues of uncertainty don’t have to drain resources and cause undue concern; instead, they can be channeled into positive actions and opportunities for growth.
Recently, a number of actions at the federal level have increased the uncertainty surrounding LCCs and cooperative conservation in general. This includes various program evaluations, the Department of Interior advisory bodies review, proposed budget reductions, and workforce reorganizations. In responding to this increased uncertainty about the future of LCCs, your cooperative staff have focused on continuing our core functions of supporting Blueprint uses, improving the Blueprint, and promoting the Blueprint, but also we’re thinking about ways to continue and to sustain the mission of the cooperative under alternative scenarios of funding support and business model. These conversations are on-going and are taking place at multiple levels, from within the South Atlantic LCC, to regional scales, and nationwide. While there may be much uncertainty about the face of collaborative conservation, there is little uncertainty about the need. I look forward to sharing these conversations with you, particularly as the federal budget and administration’s priorities continue to evolve and the veil of uncertainty begins to recede.
We are still under a Department of Interior review of advisory bodies, which necessitated the postponement of South Atlantic LCC steering committee meetings and conference calls until September. Unfortunately, our compliance with this directive meant postponement of the in-person steering committee meeting which would have occurred June 27-29. In the meantime, I urge steering committee members, and cooperative partners and participants at large, to visit our website, newsletter, and blogs to stay up to date with the continuing progress of your cooperative.
Cooperative staff continue to provide support and assistance to more than 20 active Conservation Blueprint user efforts. These range from using the Blueprint to enhance land acquisition grant proposals to incorporating the Blueprint into organizational policy for allocation of resources. Some of these new user support efforts stem from collaborations at the Blueprint workshops that were held earlier this spring.
Staff are also focused on incorporating feedback received at the workshops into final revisions to the draft Blueprint 2.2. We are still on track to finalize the draft and release Blueprint 2.2 in early fall.
Using the process approved by the steering committee, your cooperative submitted letters of support for a number of project proposals this spring, including:
- NC Sentinel Landscape application for a Department of Defense REPI Challenge grant for multiple objectives including conservation of listed and at risk species in eastern NC.
- Upper Apalachicola River Ecosystem Florida Forever conservation easements project for 80 miles of river frontage to protect water quality and ecosystem integrity.
- Waccamaw River Partnership application for acquisition of 3,000 acres to preserve ecological integrity in southeastern NC.
- Georgia DNR application to install living shorelines to protect and preserve globally-significant maritime forest habitat on Little Cumberland Island.
- NC Wildlife Resources Commission application to acquire 6,300 acres on Albemarle Sound for protection of forested wetland habitat and public access.