November 2016 CLCC Quarterly Connections Newsletter

 

 

Steering Committee Selects Two Puerto Rico Pilot Areas

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Inside this Issue:

  • First 100 Days – Connecting International Landscapes as part of the Regional Component of the Cooperative
  • Two Pilot Areas Selected in Puerto Rico and Process Begins in U.S. Virgin Islands
  • FY17 Annual Work Plan Approved
  • Dune-CAT Partners with Knights of Columbus
  • New on the CLCC Conservation Planning Atlas
  • Joint Workshop Connects Data Users to New Caribbean Climate Information
  • Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy Releases Blueprint 1.0
  • National Wildlife Refuge Association Announces Fernando Nuñez García as new Caribbean Conservation Coordinator
  • New Opportunities and Upcoming Events
  • Resources, Reports and Publications

Feature Photo: Lago Dos Bocas Reservoir, located in one of two new pilot watersheds selected by the CLCC Steering Committee. Photo Credit: Puerto Rico Water and Sewage Authority

First 100 Days
Connecting International Landscapes as part of the Regional Component of the Cooperative

By Miguel A. García-Bermúdez, CLCC Coordinator, US Fish and Wildlife Service

In many Latin American countries, one of the cheaper and more effective ways in a transportation system consists of a motorized vehicle that does not make a full stop while you are boarding it. I have been experiencing a similar sensation since I assumed the CLCC Coordinator position on August 8, 2016. This feeling results mostly from the work of our cooperators, particularly the Steering Committee members, who have been pulling and pushing (and lifting!) the CLCC cart, fueled by a commitment to “make a difference” by teaming to leverage and augment accomplishments beyond their particular agencies. However, these actions have not been purely altruistic since they boomerang back to each cooperator, supporting each agency’s mission and vision.

I had served before as an alternate CLCC representative for the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources and changed when realizing that this position will provide me the opportunity to combine crazes―island ecosystems conservation and partnerships (team work) — and to add more “sweetness”, to the necessity of connecting international landscapes as part of the regional component of the cooperative.  These add uniqueness to our landscape cooperative―the biodiversity hotspot gets more diverse by its multiculturalism.  Consequently the bar is raised due to the additional challenges brought in by different languages, politics and, very importantly, by the economical inequalities found within the region.  All of this should leads us first to identify the shared biological (e.g. migrants, pelagic species, ecosystems), climatic (e.g. trade winds, cold fronts) and historical (colonization and severe exploitation of natural resources) elements of the region.  Then, insert the common threats that are and will continue to  impact those shared features and define clearly and strategically our role, realizing what other Caribbean conservationist initiatives are doing, aiming to synergize with them while providing directly and indirectly the science and the support, including active involvement  to the long term conservation of the Caribbean biological and cultural features.

I must confess that until today, (give or take) the first hundred days,  I have benefited prominently from the great job of the previous coordinators, both formal and acting, as I move to know the nuts and bolts of a new agency, learn the subtleties and differences between my former duties as director and the new  coordinator.   Meanwhile, we are all entrusted to build an even stronger cooperative, successful and unique, that is fed and sustained by the internal contribution of our partners and the synergies from the other local and international initiatives.


Image: From the CLCC Ecosystem Governance Map and Page. Click on the image to go to the page.

Two Pilot Areas Selected in Puerto Rico and Process Begins in US Virgin Islands

By Brent Murry, CLCC Science Coordinator, US Fish and Wildlife Service

The Steering Committee has focused the Cooperative’s attention on developing landscape conservation design (LCD) as a tool to facilitate collaborative, large landscape conservation and to help address multiple shared partner objectives (i.e. ecosystem integrity, human well-being, and preservation of cultural and historical resources).  Recognizing that this level of collaborative conservation is not well-tested, the decision was made to select a pilot area to focus the Cooperative’s efforts.  Focusing in a pilot area allows the Cooperative to focus resources and align partner investments and efforts with greater ease. By doing so, there is a greater probability of synergistic conservation outcomes and a better understanding of how to best approach collaborative conservation.  A ‘ridge to reef’ model was adopted because the Cooperative understands and values ecosystem connectivity.  To this end, watershed units (HUC-10) were selected as the base unit for pilot area selection in Puerto Rico.

A decision model using seven qualitative (expert opinion scores) and eight quantitative criteria was developed and weighted by participant values.  The model was parameterized prior to the September 2016 Steering Committee meeting and the model was demonstrated and discussed.  Through discussions revolving around the watershed specific attributes relative to the selection criteria, the Steering Committee selected two distinct pilot area regions, each with a different focus to not only improve conservation in Puerto Rico, but to also explore ways to proceed with collaborative conservation into the future.

The Rio Grande de Arecibo watershed was selected as the primary pilot area where the Cooperative will develop and implement LCD.  The Rio Grande de Arecibo was selected largely due to its importance for providing water for human (and ecological) uses.  In addition to the groundwater and surface water reservoir resources, the Rio Grande de Arecibo watershed is relatively highly forested with some agriculture in the uplands (e.g. the Bosque Modelo project is in this watershed and so exists the opportunity to coordinate). It is also within the expansion area identified critical for the recovery of the endangered Puerto Rican Parrot. Aquatic connectivity was also discussed as a top priority in this region.  Finally, although most partners have interests in the region there are relatively few existing cross-agency plans that reach across all the partners in the region. The CLCC is empowered to explore the full capacity of the partnership to develop and implement long-term conservation strategies (e.g., LCD).

The Steering Committee also elected to adopt a secondary pilot area, the Rio Herrera to Las Cabezas de San Juan watersheds, essentially the larger Northeast Corridor region, where several partners, including NOAA, DRNA, Para La Naturaleza, and US Forest Service have significant endeavors underway.  The intent of selecting this region is to explore the ways in which the Cooperative can interact and support other on-going landscape conservation partner-led initiatives.  As opposed to leading conservation efforts as in the Rio Grande de Arecibo the idea in the Rio Herrera to Las Cabezas de San Juan watersheds will be to play a supplemental role. The Cooperative will try to bring new resources in support of existing efforts and/or identify gaps in existing efforts, especially relative to the priorities and objectives of the Cooperative that may or may not be being addressed by existing efforts.  The NE Corridor region also differs tremendously from the Rio Grande de Arecibo in that it is more coastal focused and more densely populated.

These two pilot areas were selected because of their differences and what developing collaborative conservation under each scenario can teach us as we continue to forge ahead pioneering new approaches to large landscape collaborative conservation. Visit our website to learn more: why the Cooperative is using LCD and the detailed methodology for choosing the pilot areas.

The CLCC Staff and Steering Committee are currently in the process of selecting pilot area(s) in USVI.

FY 17 ANNUAL WORK PLAN APPROVED

Our last few newsletters have tracked the progress of the Cooperative’s changing structure and focus (here and here) – we are transforming right along with the landscapes we are working to protect. The CLCC Staff and Steering Committee have developed the Cooperative’s first annual work plan to guide these changes in 2017, specifically for the Cooperative’s strategic planning, Landscape Conservation Design efforts, and our Communications Strategy development. If interested, read the work plan summary here.

Dune-CAT Partners with Knights of Columbus

The Dune Building and Stabilization with Vegetation Conservation Action Team (Dune-CAT) is developing a partnership with the Caballeros de Colón (Knights of Columbus) to establish a dune building demonstration project in front of the Caballeros de Colón clubhouse in Isla Verde, Puerto Rico.The project will be used as an educational and awareness raising tool to demonstrate the best practices and procedures when creating dunes using vegetation. The site will also show how these features serve to protect against swells and mitigate erosion caused by sea level rise and more intense swells.  Continue reading…

Photo Credit: Ricardo J. Colón-Rivera, DNER

New on the CLCC Conservation Planning Atlas

 

Last year the CLCC began a partnership with the Conservation Biology Institute to enhance the data discovery, visualization, and analytical platform for stakeholders throughout the Caribbean through the CLCC Conservation Planning Atlas (CPA). The CLCC continues to use the CLCC Data Center and Interactive Map for sharing spatial layers and climate data for the region but the CPA is meant for a broader audience. With the CLCC CPA, users can view, retrieve and perform analyses on geospatial data collected for specific conservation goals and priorities; search for spatial datasets; visualize CLCC-supported projects; and learn more about landscape scale conservation science and design in the region. Currently the CPA has galleries for our Conservation Action Teams, for Caribbean Long-Term Conservation Planning,  one for the PA-CAT and another for the Cay Systems CAT that are open to the public.and more!

Have research or management questions that would benefit from spatial data? View, analyze, and download the datasets today!

Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy Releases Blueprint 1.0

Southeast regional conservation leaders this month announced an important step forward in the development of the Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy (SECAS) during the 2016 Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ annual meeting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Through SECAS, diverse partners are working together to design and achieve a connected network of landscapes and seascapes that supports thriving fish and wildlife populations and improved quality of life for people across the Southeastern United States and the Caribbean.

The SECAS Blueprint stitches together the work of multiple LCCs into a map of shared conservation and restoration priorities across the Southeast and Caribbean. Just as a construction blueprint serves as a plan for achieving an architect’s design of a building, our Blueprint serves as a plan for making the SECAS vision a reality. The Blueprint combines multiple datasets, tools, and resources into one cohesive map that can be shared by regional planners, highway departments, developers, businesses, and conservation professionals alike. By providing regional context for local decisions, it will help organizations with different goals find common ground — opportunities to align their efforts to protect fish and wildlife habitat, improve quality of life for people, safeguard life and property, and develop strong economies. As the Blueprint informs the decisions affecting our communities, our livelihoods, and our natural and cultural heritage, it will shape a more sustainable future for our region.

SECAS is the work product of 15 state fish and wildlife agencies, a dozen federal agencies, six Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs), and more than a dozen conservation groups working through the LCCs. Federal, state, non-profit and private organizations are coordinating their conservation actions and investments to focus on common goals. SECAS was initiated by states of the Southeastern Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies and the federal Southeast Natural Resource Leaders Group with support from Southeast and Caribbean Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) and the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership.

An initial version of the SECAS map can be found at the SECAS website.
Here are several notes to consider when looking at the map:

  • The Blueprint represents lands with high conservation value; it does not represent an acquisition boundary.
  • The Caribbean contribution to the SECAS Blueprint 1.0 is based off of the work of the Protected Areas Conservation Action Team and the watershed prioritization and pilot area selection process the Steering Committee completed in September.
  • A fairly significant amount of the “high” scoring area is already in the conservation estate in both Florida (~53%) and in the Appalachians (~24%).
  • There are many potential conservation layers embedded within the Blueprint map such as prescribed burning and reforestation. When separated out, a much smaller subset of the Blueprint map is relevant.
  • The “medium” scoring areas are important for promoting and maintaining connectivity.
  • The Blueprint is being refined as this collaborative partnership work moves forward and significant efforts are already underway across the region.

Joint Workshop Connects Data Users to New Caribbean Climate Information

                Dr. Ryan Boyles, Deputy Director of the Southeast Climate Science Center, presents at a joint workshop by the Caribbean Landscape Conservation Cooperative and USDA Caribbean Climate Hub for Tropical Forestry and Agriculture in August 2016 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Photo Credit: Kasey R. Jacobs, US Forest Service

A joint workshop in August 2016 connected climate data users in the Caribbean region to the information, tools and people necessary to use a brand new dataset of dynamically downscaled climate data for Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands. The two-day workshop was co-hosted by the Caribbean Landscape Conservation Cooperative and USDA Caribbean Climate Hub for Tropical Forestry and Agriculture at the U.S. Forest Service International Institute of Tropical Forestry in San Juan, Puerto Rico. For three years, climate modelers at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, Florida State University and the U.S. Geological Survey Southeast Climate Science Center at North Carolina State University have been developing this unique dataset of more than 60 climate variables at 2-km resolution, a scale never completed before in the Caribbean.

The joint workshop was designed to make the 33 remote and in-person participants more familiar with the dataset and its capabilities through interactive exercises, small group discussions, a tutorial and a series of presentations. A status update and release of preliminary results were given.Participants included researchers and government officials from both territories. Continue reading…                            

National Wildlife Refuge Association Announces Fernando Núñez García as New Caribbean Conservation Coordinator

                
The National Wildlife Refuge Association announces Fernando Núñez-García as the new Caribbean Conservation Coordinator. Núñez-García will conduct community outreach and public engagement activities throughout Puerto Rico, working closely with the Puerto Rican Parrot Interagency Working Group, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the CLCC to build and enhance a connected conservation constituency. Specifically with the CLCC, Núñez-García will help identify partnership and outreach opportunities that could support landscape conservation initiatives as well as develop and foster relationships to promote conservation of natural resources in the Caribbean in partnership with the FWS and the CLCC.

President David Houghton of the Refuge Association wrote earlier this month, “We are very excited to have Fernando on our team. His exceptional management and scientific experience working with the FWS in Puerto Rico makes him a fantastic asset to the Refuge Association.” And CLCC Coordinator Miguel García has stated that “having him on board brings ample experience and knowledge since he have worked with every possible aspect of doing conservation in Puerto Rico.”

Fernando Núñez-García lives in Comerio, Puerto Rico and brings 26 years of experience working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to this new position. He started his career working as a Biological Aide at the Institute of Tropical Forestry (now the International Institute of Tropical Forestry IITF) in the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program in 1982. Later he received his Master of Science from the University of Puerto Rico, during which he returned to the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program, as a USFWS biologist. In 1988, Núñez-García left to pursue a PhD at the University of Florida and later continued working for the PR Parrot Program until leaving for the FWS Division of Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) in the Atlanta Regional Office managing all Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands grants. In 2001, he was called to help the Division of Refuges during the controversial transfer of US NAVY lands to the Department of the Interior in Vieques. After the first land transfer, Fernando accepted the position of supervisor of the Río Grande Ecological Services Field Office in charge of the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery program.From his new position, he continued assisting the Division of Refuges with the second land transfer from the US NAVY to the DOI in 2003.In July 2006, Fernando returned to the Division WSFR to manage all endangered species grants for the region, Everglades restoration projects, and all WSFR grants in Puerto Rico. He then became the Wildlife Branch Supervisor of the WSFR program in the Atlanta Regional Office overseeing the implementation of the Wildlife Restoration program in 10 states, all grant programs in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the hydrological restoration of the Florida Everglades.

Welcome Fernando!
                            

Read the official press release.

Funding Opportunities from Partners

Scholarship opportunity for a citizen from the Dominican Republic. Study for masters degree at UPR-Rio Piedras in environmental studies department and work on the project, “Use of iTree tool to Explore the Potential for Urban Green Infrastructure as an Adaption Strategy to Climate Change Resilience in the City of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic”. Time is short, students have to apply to UPR before 8 December 2016. Write to Elvia Melendez-Ackerman if interested (elmelend(at)gmail(dot)com).

The EPA’s Environmental Justice Small Grants Request for Proposals (RFP) is open from November 1, 2016 to January 31, 2017. Information related to the RFP and the Environmental Justice Small Grants Program can be found on the EPA Environmental Justice website here.

Five Star & Urban Waters Restoration Grants. Now accepting proposals: November – January 31, 2017.

NEW: 2017 Healthy Watersheds Consortium Grant Request for Proposals (RFP) now available. The deadline for proposals is February 1, 2017 at 8:00 p.m. est.

EPA, USDA/NRCS, and U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities Announce Availability of $2 million for 2017. Deadline February 1, 2017. See  U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, Healthy Watersheds Consortium website

The NRCS Caribbean Area sign-up for fiscal year 2017 EQIP funding is now open! The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation program that provides financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers to help them install and implement conservation practices on eligible agricultural land. The following are this year’s cut-off dates: EQIP Period 1 cut-off date: November 18, 2016;  EQIP Period 2 cut-off date: February 17, 2017; For more information, follow the links below or contact your local NRCS office.

Upcoming Events December through February

Featuring: NRCS Workshops, Caribbean Recycling Summit, Coastal Summit in New Orleans, Talk at Sierra Club office in Río Piedras, Ag Fairs in US Virgin Islands, and Caribbean Biodiversity Congress in Santo Domingo

Resources, Publications and Reports

NOAA Digital Coast Describing the Ocean Economy of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands

National Park Service New Manual of Coastal Adaptation Strategies

Scaling Up: Landscape-scale Conservation in North America:  Special Theme issue of the journal of the George Wright Society explores the past and current practice of landscape-scale conservation through a diverse set of nine articles.

FACT SHEET: President Obama Takes A Historic Step To Address The National Security Implications Of Climate Change. 

BioScience Article: In this article, a prominent group of agency scientists and conservation leaders call for a cohesive and coordinated national approach to habitat preservation in the United States: “The future of habitat and biodiversity conservation will rely on an unprecedented level of cooperation across private, local, state, tribal and federal agency boundaries.” Read a News Synopsis or access the Paper’s Abstract

New study draws on literature to document the potential of “landscape approaches” for improving land conservation and management. See the Study or read a News Synopsis

Video Presentation on President Obama’s Resilient Lands and Waters Initiative. Watch the Video

Globescapes, an interactive map, has been launched to showcase large landscape conservation efforts across globe. Explore the Map

National Academy of Sciences Review of the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives.

USDA Caribbean Climate Hub Agricultural Vulnerability Assessment for Puerto Rico & the US Virgin Islands.

US Virgin Islands Report: Ecosystem-based Adaptation Guidance Promoting Resilient Coastal and Marine Communities.

US Virgin Islands Climate Products Factsheet

Quantifying key drivers of climate variability and change for Puerto Rico and the Caribbean by K.Hayhoe. Read the Report.

New Landscape Conservation Cooperative Network Strategic Plan 2014. Read the Plan.

Downscaled Climate Projections for the Southeast United States: Evaluation and Use for Ecological Applications. Read the Report.

National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy. Taking Action Progress Report September 2014. Read the Progress Report.

A Compendium of Conservation Organizations for the US Virgin Islands & Puerto Rico. Read the Report.

A Compendium of Conservation Organizations for the Insular Caribbean, Belize, Suriname, Guyana. Read the Report.

State of the Birds 2014 Report. Read the Report.

Forward

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