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Crafting Our Conservation Future

The North Atlantic LCC is working to conserve the nature of the Northeast -- stitch by stitch.
Crafting Our Conservation Future

Bill Hyatt (far left) and Patty Riexinger relax with Mike Rasser, a marine biologist with BOEM, and Mike Slattery, FWS Chesapeake Coordinator, at the November 2013 NALCC Steering Committee meeting.

Patty Riexinger, former vice chair of the North Atlantic LCC Steering Committee, has said our LCC is something like a quilt. As a partnership, we collectively provide the backing – consistent science, tools, information and regional context partners need to work across boundaries to conserve fish, wildlife and natural resources in the Northeast. And then each partner in the LCC stitches on their own piece of cloth – regional, state or local conservation planning and actions that add up to sustainable landscapes that support fish, wildlife and people.

One of the best examples of this collaboration is the LCC’s work with state partners to develop a synthesis of regional conservation information focused on providing the species and habitat information needed for State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) revisions. Following our agreement on a Northeast Conservation Framework in 2011, the Northeast states and the LCC have been filling in the gaps in regional information building on the work of the state’s Regional Conservation Need program.  We have developed regional terrestrial, aquatic, coastal and marine habitat classifications and maps.  We are producing vulnerability assessments and climate scenarios for our species and habitats. We are analyzing threats and opportunities for regional species of concern, assessing ecological functions, and developing tools to evaluate alternatives and make conservation decisions in the face of change.

The synthesis of this information will provide regional context for Species of Greatest Conservation Need and their habitats and is available for voluntary inclusion in each state’s plan via a web-based information management system. The states and LCC are now working together on the next steps to use this information to identify and map regional priority areas for conservation of fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats – Regional Conservation Opportunity Areas.  As state directors, we can tell you this will be vital information for ensuring that our state conservation efforts are contributing to the broader conservation goals in the Northeast.

As you will see in this issue of our newsletter, the North Atlantic LCC is gaining ground on many more fronts. To expand our role in science delivery, the LCC has invested in four projects that will expand our delivery network and serve as examples of applied landscape conservation science in the Northeast. And in the Connecticut River watershed, we are working with a broad array of partners to design, implement and learn from a landscape conservation approach that collectively will result in a more resilient and connected matrix of lands and waters supporting people and wildlife in the watershed.  This pilot effort is also intended to serve as a model for similar planning efforts in landscapes across the Northeast. 

For the past four years, we have watched our partnership grow and make progress. Now we are poised to reach the next level as this quilt becomes stronger, more connected and a source of comfort to all who are out there conserving the nature of the Northeast every day.

Bill Hyatt, Chief of the Bureau of Natural Resources for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, is current vice chair of the North Atlantic LCC Steering Committee, elected at the April, 2014 Steering Committee meeting.

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