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2014 Winter Newsletter

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Providing the Foundation

One of the chief road blocks to large-scale, collaborative planning and action for conservation envisioned by the North Atlantic LCC partnership is the lack of accessible high-quality, regionally consistent information about fish, wildlife and plant species, habitats, and landscapes. Such information serves as the foundation upon which partners can build planning tools and set strategic priorities for effective conservation action. Consequently, since its inception the North Atlantic LCC has placed a high priority on creating, organizing, and making available foundational data and information at scales and in the formats that partners need.
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Table of Contents


SCIENCE DELIVERY AND TOOLS: Regional Synthesis and Context for Conservation Actions in the Northeast Region | Connecticut River Watershed Pilot: Landscape Conservation Design in Action  |  Putting Science on the Ground

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS: Protecting People and Communities, Helping Fish and Wildlife  |  Conserving Important Habitat for Amphibians and Other Wildlife Assessing Aquatic Habitats and Threats

IN THE NEWS: Conservation Planning and Design in the Northeast  |  LCC Sea Level Rise Project Featured at Biennial Piping Plover Least Tern Workshop and in Ecological Modeling North Atlantic LCC Conservation Design Approach Presented to National Refuge Planners Addressing Coastal and Marine Science Needs |  LCC Helps Highlight Atlantic Salmon and Sea-run Fish Restoration in Maine | Jess W. Jones Receives FWS Science Excellence Award | LCC Network Coordinators and Science Coordinators Chart Course for 2014

UPCOMING EVENTS:  Northeast Climate Science Center Colloquium WebinarsRegional Landscape Conservation GIS Training Workshops | North Atlantic Vernal Pool Workshop | North Atlantic LCC Steering Committee Meeting

SCIENCE DELIVERY AND TOOLS

Regional Synthesis and Context for Conservation Actions in the Northeast Region

Northeast states and LCCs have developed or are developing species and habitat assessments, modeling frameworks and tools that provide support to evaluate alternatives and make decisions about conservation actions in the face of change. These tools collectively help articulate landscape conservation priorities for the Northeast and provide regional context for state and local actions.
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Connecticut riverConnecticut River Watershed Pilot: Landscape Conservation Design in Action

The Connecticut River watershed landscape conservation design pilot is a collaborative effort to develop tools and strategies to help partners conserve ecosystems and the fish, wildlife and plants they support within the watershed. Facilitated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and supported by the North Atlantic LCC, the pilot also will help establish a landscape conservation design process that can be applied elsewhere within the Northeast region and beyond.
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Putting Science on the Ground

As part of its ongoing effort to ensure that science information and tools are available in the scales and formats needed by various partners in the Northeast, the North Atlantic LCC announced in January that it is seeking proposals for science delivery partner support and demonstration projects. Science delivery partner support projects should promote the use and adoption of landscape conservation science investments by teaching and providing technical assistance to others. Demonstration projects should promote the use and adoption of landscape science investments by creating examples of on-the-ground applications of landscape conservation science.
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PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS

Protecting People and Communities, Helping Fish and Wildlife

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has received $1.27 million in Hurricane Sandy mitigation funds from the Department of the Interior to work through the North Atlantic LCC to coordinate and support a collaborative, region-wide effort to restore fish passage while reducing the likelihood of damage to  road stream crossings from future floods.
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Conserving Important Habitat for Amphibians and Other Wildlife

Vernal pools are small, temporary bodies of water that can serve as critical habitat for frogs, salamanders, and other wildlife. In 2013, the North Atlantic LCC initiated a new project to address a critical first step in conservation efforts for highly vulnerable, vernal pool dependent wildlife: better understanding where vernal pools are located across the region. Following a competitive grant process, the LCC selected a team from the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, the University of Vermont, and High Branch Conservation Services to lead the effort. The project will assemble known vernal pool locations across the Northeast; describe current approaches for mapping vernal pools; and develop a new approach for using remote sensing to vernal pools not previously mapped.
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Assessing Aquatic Habitats and Threats

Working with the Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partnership, the North Atlantic LCC has launched a project to develop a decision support tool for assessing aquatic habitats and threats in watersheds and estuaries of the region. Selected following a competitive grant process in 2012, Downstream Strategies is leading the tool development effort. During the first year of the project, effort was focused organizing project partners, assembling regional data and beginning pilot habitat modeling for the first fish species selected, winter flounder. Ultimately, the tool will allow resource managers to visualize and manipulate information on aquatic habitats and threats for multiple coastal and aquatic species to prioritize areas for conservation action as an aquatic complement to the Designing Sustainable Landscapes project. The LCC and Downstream Strategies also are working with the Chesapeake Bay Program Partnership and the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture on a case study to develop a prototype brook trout habitat/restoration prioritization tool to be available for testing during late summer 2014.  A team of leaders representing these conservation partnerships are currently assembling and organizing data, evaluating and addressing data gaps, and determining appropriate next steps for the project.
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Click here for a complete list of North Atlantic LCC projects

IN THE NEWS

Conservation Planning and Design in the Northeast

Sixteen representatives of the 13 Northeast states and the District of Columbia met February 5-6, 2014 in the FWS Northeast Regional Office in Hadley, Massachusetts to review requirements for revising State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAPs) and to share information, tools and approaches. The group also joined with FWS and North Atlantic LCC staff for a demonstration of regional datasets that have been synthesized by the LCC and can be used to provide regional context for decisions regarding species and habitats that span multiple states.  Technical training on these regional datasets for state Geographic Information Systems (GIS) staff will be held March 10-11, 2014 in Hadley, MA and March 13-14 at the National Conservation Training Center in West Virginia.

 

LCC Sea-Level Rise Project Featured at Biennial Piping Plover Least Tern Workshop and in Ecological Modelling

An LCC-supported project to assess the vulnerability of piping plovers and other beach-dependent species to sea-level rise and increased storms and to guide beach management decisions was featured at the Piping Plover Least Tern Workshop at the National Conservation Training Center February 4-6, 2014.  The first phase of that work is also described in the latest issue of Ecological Modelling.  The project is a joint effort bringing together plover expertise from Virginia Tech with the sea-level rise impact expertise from the USGS Woods Hole Science Center.  Attendees at the workshop reviewed the results of the initial phase of that project on Assateague Island, Virginia and agreed on next steps to expand the approach to New Jersey, New York and several other areas in the North Atlantic in 2014 through Hurricane Sandy resiliency funding provided to the LCC.   One next step is to pilot “i-plover” – an application for smart phones that allows for real time plover and beach habitat data collection – on about nine National Wildlife Refuges in the North Atlantic.  The ultimate goal is to initially have North Atlantic wide vulnerability assessment and decision support for plovers and other beach dependent species.
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North Atlantic LCC Conservation Design Approach Presented to National Refuge Planners

North Atlantic LCC efforts to develop and apply information and tools for landscape scale planning including the pilot landscape conservation design efforts in the Connecticut River Watershed were presented on a national webinar for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) National Wildlife Refuge Planners on January 8, 2014.  This presentation followed the release of a report by the Service examining how Refuge System planning will use collaborative landscape-scale approaches to address conservation challenges such as climate change while maintaining the integrity of management and conservation delivery within refuge boundaries.  
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Addressing Coastal and Marine Science Needs

The North Atlantic LCC is coordinating closely with the Northeast Regional Oceans Council (NROC) to address coastal and marine science needs. Two of these LCC projects were featured at the fall meeting of NROC in Narragansett, Rhode Island.  North Atlantic LCC Coordinator Andrew Milliken attended the meeting to participate in the discussions. Projects are:
  • Research and Decision Support Framework to Evaluate Sea-level Rise Impacts for the U.S. Atlantic Coast is a joint effort of the LCC and the Northeast Climate Science Center (NROC) being led by the U.S. Geological Survey.  The goal is to develop decision support models to address critical management decisions at regional and local scales, considering both dynamic and simple inundation responses to sea-level rise.  The project is being guided by a group of decision makers assembled by the LCC to address sea level rise through Structured Decision Making. States represented on NROC hope to use this information to support their efforts to plan coastal actions in the face of sea level rise and storms. 

LCC Helps Highlight Atlantic Salmon and Sea-run Fish Restoration in Maine

In early January, partners working to restore Atlantic salmon and other sea-run fish in Maine unveiled their new website Atlantic Salmon and Sea-run Fish Restoration in Maine. The new website is a centralized location for sharing information, improving stakeholder and public knowledge, and connecting recovery efforts with stakeholders. The site is a companion site to the North Atlantic LCC website and funded by USFWS, NOAA and the North Atlantic LCC.
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Jess W. Jones Receives FWS Science Excellence Award

Dr. Jess W. Jones, a national leader in freshwater mussel conservation and restoration, has received one of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s top awards for scientific excellence. Jones received the 2013 Rachel Carson Award for Scientific Excellence (Individual), which recognizes “exemplary scientific contributions to achieving extraordinary results in fish and wildlife conservation.” The award was among several science awards announced by the agency on Feb. 11, 2014.  Jones has worked with the North Atlantic LCC to study interactions between climate change, contaminants and ecosystems.
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LCC Network Coordinators and Science Coordinators Chart Course for 2014

LCC Network Coordinators and Science Coordinators met in Kansas City Jan. 29-31 to chart a course for the network in the coming year. Key outcomes include:
  • Agreement to develop a strategic plan for the LCC network. A proposed goal is to complete an initial version in one year.
  • Agreement that one of the network's core missions will be to encourage the development of an ecologically connected network of landscapes (and seascapes) (also referred to as landscape conservation designs) as called for in the National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy. Coordinators recognized this concept must be adapted to reflect regional situations (e.g. it may have a different application for island systems).
  • Agreement to continue to develop a science agenda for the network. The goal is for a draft to be completed by this summer for partner review.
  • Agreement on a near-term priority of building support for the LCC enterprise and explaining how the depth and breadth of our work is benefiting partners and natural resources. This includes agreement on the importance of congressional visits in the next few months.
  • Agreement to develop a strategic communications plan for the network, which will be incorporated into the broader strategic plan and additional communications tools and materials.

UPCOMING EVENTS/PRESENTATIONS

Northeast Climate Science Center Colloquium Webinars

A list of upcoming and archived presentations hosted by our partners at the Northeast Climate Science Center. The webinars highlight the latest science and information related to understanding and managing for climate change and other landscape-scale stressors.
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Regional Landscape Conservation GIS Training Workshops

March 10-11, 2014 (USFWS in Hadley, MA) and
March 13-14 (National Conservation Training Center, Shepherdstown, WV.)
Technical training on accessing and using regional landscape conservation datasets compiled and synthesized by the states and North Atlantic LCC for state Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
 

North Atlantic Vernal Pool Workshop

Monday, April 7, 2014
Sheraton Springfield Hotel, Springfield, MA in conjunction with the Northeast Natural History Conference (the conference continues through Wednesday, April 9). The Vermont Center for Ecostudies is coordinating the Vernal Pool Data Cooperative with funds from the North Atlantic LCC. The project’s advisors and collaborators include representatives from: Clemson University, High Branch Conservation Services, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, NatureServe, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Paul Smith’s College, the University of Maine, and the University of Vermont.
 

North Atlantic LCC Steering Committee Meeting

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Portland Masonic Temple, 415 Congress St, Portland, Maine (3 blocks from the location of the Northeast Fish and Wildlife Conference - Holiday Inn By the Bay).
Learn more
 
Please submit newsletter essays, stories, images, and video to david_eisenhauer@fws.gov

For more information on the North Atlantic LCC, visit http://northatlanticlcc.org/ or contact NALCC Coordinator Andrew Milliken at Andrew_milliken@fws.gov 413-253-8269

The North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative is an applied science and management partnership working to protect natural lands, valued resources and the biological diversity that provide environmental benefits and services to the human communities across the region.
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