In the March 2016 Quarterly Connections Newsletter Recent Progress in Our Strategic Direction, we announced the Steering Committee’s decision to hire a full-time coordinator. The search then began for a highly qualified individual to be the lead facilitator of cooperative activities and programs. The new coordinator’s responsibilities are: 1) to ensure the Cooperative coordinates across geographic areas and other boundaries; 2) provides scientific and technical coordination support to the activities and programs of the CLCC; 3) facilitates scientific expertise, coordination, and leadership in developing fish and wildlife conservation strategies and plans; 4) provides leadership in creating, guiding, facilitating, and nurturing an interdependent network; and 5) serves as supervisor for a staff of scientists, planners, and other professionals from CLCC-member agencies assigned to or working for the CLCC.
While the search for the full-time coordinator was underway, Brent Murry, CLCC Science Coordinator and Science Applications Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS); Iván Llerandi-Román, Caribbean Coordinator of the Partner for Fish and Wildlife and Coastal Programs, USFWS; and Soledad Gaztambide, Policy and Government Relations Coordinator for Para la Naturaleza (the Puerto Rico Conservation Trust) each served as the Acting Coordinator for varying periods of time. Prior to the selected coordinator being able to assume his new role, Lisamarie Carrubba, Natural Resource Planner and lead of the NOAA Fisheries Caribbean Field Office and a CLCC founding member will fill the role of Acting Coordinator. Thank you to the USFWS, Para la Naturaleza, and NOAA Fisheries for providing this series of detailees.
At the same face-to-face meeting at Para La Naturaleza headquarters in November 2015 where it was decided to hire a full-time coordinator, the Steering Committee acknowledged the need to set a strategic direction for the CLCC. It was determined that a new internal structure was needed to maximize the energy and resources of individual member organizations. Chairperson Leo Miranda, USFWS Assistant Regional Director for Ecological Services in the Southeast U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and founding CLCC member, presented the committee with his decision to step down as chair. Leo acknowledged the need for a chair who can dedicate more time to CLCC issues, such as the restructuring process. In accordance with this new direction, the co-chairs and founding members Jean-Pierre Oriol, Director of the Virgin Islands DPNR-Division of Coastal Zone Management, and Ernesto L. Diaz, Director of the Puerto Rico DNER-Climate Change and Coastal Zone Office, also stepped down, though all three continue serving on the Steering Committee. The CLCC staff wishes to thank Leo, Ernesto, and Jean-Pierre for their leadership and service since 2012. We look forward to continuing to work together in these exciting times of large-scale conservation partnerships in the region.
In subsequent meetings in February and March 2016, it was determined that the Cooperative will be guided by an Executive Team working to inform the larger Steering Committee when needed, at least until a new full-time coordinator is hired to help with the full reorganization. This Executive Team helps the staff with three main tasks: (1) transitioning towards a new full-time CLCC coordinator; (2) drafting a new selection mechanism for committee members and toward a new structure of the organization; and (3) working with Cooperative agencies to define and reach proposed strategic goals.
The Steering Committee continues to meet in person one to two times per year, also corresponding with the staff and Executive Team via email and phone when critical decisions are needed. An in-person Steering Committee meeting occurred recently on June 28th at the EPA Caribbean Environmental Protection Division offices in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. The Steering Committee met to continue developing strategies for the CLCC to move forward using the Science, Business, and Communications plans and existing CLCC structure to inform decisions by conservation implementers. Facilitated discussions were led by CLCC Staff, principally Acting Coordinator Soledad Gaztambide of Para La Naturaleza, and individual Steering Committee members Gerard McMahon, DOI Southeast Climate Science Center, and Sharon Wallace, U.S. Forest Service El Yunque National Forest. Through these discussions, the Steering Committee reflected on how is and how would we like the CLCC to be governed and how we contribute to and can enhance our contribution to conservation implementation. The meeting also focused on key achievements and methods for the FY16-FY17 Work Plan, as well as the terminology used domestically and internationally related to the Landscape Approach to conservation planning. By the end of the meeting, the Steering Committee members were fully informed and engaged regarding progress made since the November 2015 and February 2016 restructuring decisions and the renewal of the interagency agreement between USFWS and U.S. Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestry (IITF) to support operations of the Cooperative.
Important decisions made on June 28, 2016 were:
- Staff will modify the draft Landscape Conservation Design (LCD) graphic and process for the CLCC to include planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation in order to clarify how Landscape Conservation Design is a tool for Landscape Conservation which seeks to effectively enhance the conservation of natural and cultural resources on-the-ground in the region.
- Staff and Steering Committee will choose a geographic focal area or two focal areas (one in PR and one in USVI) as a pilot in order to work through a Structured Decision Making framework using the CLCC’s Fundamental Objectives to develop and implement conservation strategies. CLCC Staff will use existing spatial prioritizations and available data from across all CLCC organizations to make recommendations to the Steering Committee regarding criteria for selection of one or two focal areas. Criteria for selection will be based on spatial overlays, hydrological considerations for watersheds (ridge to reef approach), need for coordination assistance, and connection with all four CLCC fundamental objectives, including “how to bring more resources to the Caribbean.”
- The CLCC will use a “reverse engineering” approach with the pilot so it can also provide guidance for CLCC strategic planning efforts over the next few years.
- Staff will revamp the FY16-FY17 Work Plan and Budget to recast it around the first two points.
- The CLCC will utilize the expertise of staff and select partners to work through the first few Structured Decision Making steps. The results will be then presented to the Steering Committee for modification.
- Staff will work with the Conservation Action Teams (CATs) to integrate their knowledge into the focal area(s) landscape conservation design.
- Staff and partners will integrate the outputs of the spatial analyses used for the focal area selection and development into the Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy, but keep the primary focus on achieving local conservation implementation.
- Staff and the Executive Team will modify some of the language in the interagency agreement between the USFWS and IITF.
- The Executive Team will continue for six months and then be reevaluated. They will meet only as needed to accomplish work plan and other critical tasks.