Appalachian LCC News

“Report Card” to Assess Current Conditions, Ecological Health of Natural Resources in Tennessee River Basin

The Report Card will provide a vital baseline on the current conditions of important natural resources and contain colorful illustrations, graphics, and meaningful measurements. Key natural resource indicators, such as water quality, will be identified and prescribed a grade (A-F) based on an assessment of ecological health. The product will be a helpful outreach tool for partners in the region as well as a technical resource for conservation planning and prioritization. It is anticipated to be used as a companion to the Appalachian LCC NatureScape Conservation Design, with future trends analysis of major stressors and landscape-level corridors to facilitate conservation objectives.

Researchers from the University of Maryland’s Integration and Application Network will work with the Cooperative partnership to initiate a series of webinars to introduce the process and scope of this initiative with key stakeholders and technical experts. Participants in these webinars will help identify existing relevant datasets and target key values and major threats in the region. Researchers will then propose indicators and metrics for the report card, solicit suggestions for modifying indicators and metrics, and seek additional data that would be helpful for the analysis.

Initial presentations on the Tennessee River Basin Report Card was first shared with our LCC community on July 7 and an initial draft will be shared at the Tennessee River Basin Network’s annual meeting in August, so each body can have the opportunity to engage with researchers and better understand the goals, process, and data used to create the final deliverable. The University of Maryland’s Integration and Application Network has produced several other similar products for the Chesapeake Bay Program and South Atlantic LCC.

Workshops Introduce New Way to Evaluate Changes to Benefits of Nature

LanDAT is one of the final research products generated as a result of a three-year collaboration between the Appalachian LCC, the U.S. Forest Service Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center, and the National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center.

Held May 16 and June 21 in Asheville, NC, the workshops presented case studies demonstrating how LanDAT can be applied to understand the impacts of changing forest growth and land use patterns on forest carbon storage, and to measure the severity of hemlock tree loss relative to other kinds of landscape change in the region. The workshops included in-depth discussion and exploration of the LanDAT website, data products, and map viewer and provided workshop participants an opportunity to evaluate the tool’s potential for use in additional landscape assessment and monitoring scenarios, as well as its design and functionality.

"As conservation practitioners strive to restore and maintain landscapes and the ecological services and benefits they provide, judging success or even progress requires objective, quantifiable, and rigorous means of defining and measuring landscape resilience through time,” says Lars Pomara, an ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center and one of LanDAT’s key developers. “LanDAT can help these users characterize changing landscapes across multiple scales and measure the influence of management activities on resilience and adaptive capacity."

Natural resource managers, planners, and spatial data analysts can use LanDAT to integrate assessments of landscape change and ecosystem services in their efforts locally and regionally to guide landscape planning and management decisions.

Two more workshops will be held this year in the northern and western subregions of the Appalachian LCC.

  • Northern subregion Workshop scheduled for July 26 at NCTC in Shepherdstown, West Virginia
  • Western subregion Workshop scheduled for September 13 at Land Between the Lakes National Recreational Area in Golden Pond, Kentucky

 

In addition, a webinar providing a general overview of LanDAT will be presented to the Appalachian LCC community on Friday, August 4 at 9:30am Eastern. If interested in attending a future workshop or have additional questions, contact Lars Pomara, lazarusypomara@fs.fed.us.

Integrating Cultural Resources into Regional Conservation Planning

The goal is to address the major stressors of land-use conversion associated with energy expansion, urbanization, sprawl, and impacts of climate change on cultural resources that society values.

The PSU research team led by Dr. Tim Murtha, began work by conducting pilot studies in Pennsylvania and West Virginia in 2016-2017. The team investigated relevant resources, data requirements, and opportunities to identify the best process for integrating cultural resources into landscape planning and scaling up local results to apply to the entire Appalachian LCC 15-state geography. Some of the key work accomplished so far include:

  • Development of a comprehensive geospatial library relevant to cultural resources for the state of Pennsylvania.
  • Review of state and local comprehensive planning documents for an analysis of policy related to cultural resource management, preservation and planning.
  • Assembling of available data for test modeling Pennsylvania pilot study and then completing around 270 million test models for identifying landscape-scale conservation priorities for Pennsylvania
  • Developing a comprehensive geospatial library relevant to cultural resources for the state of West Virginia.
  • Comparing and analyzing data sources and resolution with particular attention paid to evaluating data quality and coverage for PA and WV.

 

Work to date in the pilot studies of Pennsylvania and more recent comparisons to West Virginia indicate that there are important topics to study to best integrate cultural resources early on in the natural resource planning process. The team is examining twelve cultural resource themes in these pilot studies and each theme has produced fascinating results. The results of this ongoing research will be integrated into an Open Science Framework over the next several weeks, in addition to producing three manuscripts in preparation for peer review as well as several invited presentations in the upcoming months.  Researchers will participate at the Tennessee River Basin Network meeting in August with University of Maryland researchers conducting a current ecological assessment (Report Card) of the Basin to explore possible integration of cultural metrics into the Report Card.

Land Trusts are Vital Links for Regional Conservation Planning and Management

Over 20 participants representing 12 local organizations participated in this science delivery workshop. This included staff of neighboring land trusts in the area who had the opportunity at this meeting to discuss common challenges they are dealing with and how to better work together to enhance capacity and overcome barriers.

The workshop familiarized participants with the Appalachian LCC - its mission, recent activities, and newly developed resources available to partners to improve their conservation efforts. The workshop provided a wealth of regional information and provided a larger context to the local conservation taking place in the greater Chattanooga, Tennessee area.

“I worked for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service back in 2009 when we started talking about LCCs and I realized that what we hoped for back then was finally coming to fruition,” said Huffines. “I was just overwhelmed to see how far the LCC had advanced and felt there was a need to share my excitement with others.”

After the workshop, Rick brought the Cooperative staff out into the field to get a beautiful view of the Gorge, a reminder of the beautiful places Land Trusts protect and the value of all of our work.

Appalachian Conservation Heroes Retiring

For decades, they have been conservation heroes that have improved terrestrial and aquatic environments in the Appalachians for many wildlife and people. We are thankful for their commitment to Appalachian conservation and indebted to them for sharing their expertise and passion with us.

Bill Reeves: Bill Reeves was another vital Steering Committee member for years and the Chief of Biodiversity with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) where he administered the state wildlife grant, ESA Section 6 and wildlife diversity programs. He was instrumental in sharing the Cooperative’s science, resources, and tools to partners throughout the state of Tennessee. He helped to put on one of our first science delivery workshops with TWRA and its partners, demonstrating the need behind working at a landscape scale to better plan and manage and how Appalachian LCC derived tools and resources can enhance collaboration between federal, state, and local entities and aid conservation planning efforts that transcend state lines. In his over 40 years of experience, Reeves held positions of Chief of Fisheries (TWRA), Assistant Chief of Fisheries, Community Lakes Supervisor, and District Fisheries Biologist (Alabama Game and Fish Division). Reeves is a Certified Fisheries Scientist and served as the President of the Alabama Fisheries Association, Chairman of the Mississippi Interstate Resources Association (MICRA), co-founder and co-chair of the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership (SARP), and member of the core team for the National Fish Habitat Initiative.

Roberta Hylton: Roberta, the Supervisory Fish and Wildlife Biologist out of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Virginia Ecological Services Office, was a key voice of conservation and partnerships in the Tennessee River Basin. She helped to spearhead the Conservation Strategy for the Upper Tennessee River Basin, which is designed to help the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service better integrate its efforts internally and with local partners in identifying aquatic species conservation objectives for 36 imperiled freshwater fish and mussel species as well as recommending a management approach for conserving and recovering prioritized species and locations across the basin. Roberta’s conservation career spanned 40 years, with 23 out of the Southwestern Virginia field office. “I have loved this job and have appreciated the chance to work with so many other great folks in the Upper Tennessee River Basin, the Southern Appalachians, and across the nation.”

Patricia Morrison: During her tenure as the wildlife biologist for the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Patricia Morrison worked tirelessly to secure partnerships and funding to advance the recovery of imperiled mussel species including pink mucket, clubshell, orange-foot pimpleback, spectaclecase, purple cat's paw pearlymussel, northern riffleshell, fanshell, ring pink, white wartyback, and sheepnose. Her work led to significant conservation milestones including the establishment of new mussel populations and advances in propagation techniques such as the first ever in-vitro propagation of orange-foot pimpleback. These efforts greatly reduced extinction likelihood by addressing population decline and population fragmentation for these species.

New Conservation Fellow Joins LCC Team

Her work will focus on geospatially-referenced social and cultural resource conservation and aid Appalachian LCC research already underway for our “Integrating Cultural Resource Preservation at a Landscape Scale” project.

Maddie is an Ecological Anthropologist interested in how social relationships mediate natural resource management and access. Her work combines ethnographic fieldwork with quantitative spatial and network analysis to examine individual and cooperative strategies in resource management systems. She earned her PhD in Ecological Anthropology at Stanford University in 2017.

Appalachian LCC Conservation Fellowships, a program unique within the National LCC Network, provides opportunities for post-graduate level training in applied landscape conservation and resource management. Fellows work across many facets of applied conservation to coordinate efforts (meetings, workshops, webinars) that promote resource sharing and collaboration within networks and partnerships. Although opportunities may vary, examples of the different conservation practices and perspectives the Fellowship may work with include industry, regulatory, advocacy, education and outreach, cultural stewardship and natural resource management.

Saying Goodbye to a Central Component of the LCC Team: Communications Coordinator Moves onto New Opportunity at University of South Florida, St. Petersburg

Matthew was a critical component in the evolution and growth of the LCC, translating conservation science to key audiences, developing products for media, congressional briefings and science delivery workshops, and overseeing communications for the regional partnership. Before leaving, Matt sent a heartfelt message to friends and colleagues he has worked with over the years that helped move landscape conservation forward in the Appalachian.

Hello Friends and Colleagues,

After extensive thought and deliberation, I have decided to take a job opportunity with the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg in their Communications Department. My last work day will be Friday, August 11.

I have had a wonderful experience over the last 5 years (they go by fast) with the Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture, a truly remarkable partnership doing great conservation work in one of the best places on Earth. The opportunity to lead communications with our partnership has made me into a better writer, improved my ability to handle multiple tasks at once, enhanced my comfort with public speaking in front of intimidating crowds (ok, the Board wasn't too intimidating), and made me realize the amazing value of partnerships to contribute lasting results. Most importantly, it allowed me to be part of and contribute to a mission I hold dear, the conservation of birds and their habitats throughout the Appalachian Mountains. A mission I have been proud to be a part of since day 1.

Though I am moving away from conservation work for the moment (I will be documenting sea-level rise and sustainability issues quite a bit in my new gig), my passion and love for the outdoors has not diminished. I plan to stay engaged with the issues of conservation in the Appalachians and continue to return often to hike those beautiful mountains. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I have been provided over these last years and wish you all the best of luck in the future.

Ohio River Basin Fish Habitat Partnership FY 2018 Call for Project Proposals

The Service and the ORBFHP recognize that a substantial amount of the protection, restoration and enhancement of aquatic habitat will be done at the local level by local watershed associations, municipalities, tribes, states and nongovernmental organizations. The Service and the ORBFHP will work with organizations to encourage local conservation actions that fit within the ORBFHP’s Strategic Plan priorities. A “project” is defined as an action that will protect, restore or enhance Ohio River Basin fish/mussel habitat. Project proposals will be reviewed and ranked by the ORBFHP Steering Committee. The Service will use the recommendations provided to them by the ORBFHP in making final decisions regarding project funds, and anticipates making final decisions regarding project selection by spring 2018.

Please use the following guidelines in this RFP to submit your proposal to Donovan Henry (Donovan_Henry@fws.gov) and Collin Moratz (Collin_Moratz@fws.gov) by October 6, 2017. For questions, please email or call Donovan or Collin, USFWS, at 618-997-6869, ext. 104 or ex. 122, respectively.

The Ohio River and its basin are of national significance in both geographic scope and the fish and mussel resources contained within them. The Ohio River is the second largest river in the United States as measured by its annual discharge. The basin also contains at least 350 species of fish and more than 120 mussel species, including a number that are federally listed.  Sportfishing is a major recreational activity with over 2.5 million angling hours recorded and 2.8 million fish caught within just the main-stem Ohio River during past surveys. It was with these resources in mind, that the Ohio River Basin Fish Habitat Partnership (ORBFHP) coalesced from a meeting of approximately 50 federal and state agencies, NGOs, and academic representatives interested in the aquatic habitat of the Ohio River Basin.

The ORBFHP’s focus is embodied in its mission statement:  The Ohio River Basin Fish Habitat Partnership focuses protection, restoration, and enhancement efforts on priority habitat for fish and mussels in the watersheds of the Ohio River Basin for the benefit of the public.

The Ohio River Basin Fish Habitat Partnership will accept proposals for

Fiscal Year 2018 aquatic habitat projects in the Ohio River Basin as follows:

Priority Areas:

Fish habitat protection and restoration projects that are within ORBFHP priority areas will be given primary consideration. Projects outside of these areas are still eligible (see map below):

Eligibility:

  • Projects must be within the Ohio River Basin.
  • Ohio River Basin Fish Habitat Partnership (ORBFHP) funding requests typically range between $10,000 and $40,000, but larger project requests can be submitted and will be considered depending on funding levels.
  • Federal agencies, states, tribes, tribal authorities, local governments, non-profits, for-profits, and private individuals can all apply.
  • Match and partner contributions of 3:1 are encouraged, but others will be considered. In-kind and federal match is allowed.
  • Post-project monitoring is required. This requirement can be met by using existing state, fed, local, or other monitoring programs.
  • Incomplete applications will not be accepted.
  • Applications submitted after the deadline of midnight, October 6, 2017 will not be accepted.


Fund Request Restrictions: ORBFHP funding cannot be used for:

  • Realty costs (e.g., lease or purchase interests in real property or to make rental or other land use incentive payments to landowners).
  • Operation and maintenance of facilities or structures.
  • Actions required by existing regulatory programs, except that funds may support activities under voluntary agreements that exceed regulatory requirements for conserving habitats (e.g., hydropower licensing in which the licensee enters into a voluntary agreement to restore habitat that exceeds regulatory requirements).

 

Priority will be given to projects that address these factors in your online application:

  • Projects in priority areas and directly related to the focus of the ORBFHP’s Strategic Plan (Appendix 1).
  • Address conservation or restoration actions where ORBFHP signature species are present (Appendix 1).
  • Consider watershed-scale ecological and hydrological processes that affect fish habitat and fish populations.
  • Are part of a watershed restoration effort that works to provide permanent solutions to the root cause of habitat decline.
  • Are integrated and aligned with other conservation plans (e.g. State Wildlife Plans, Watershed Management Plans, etc.).
  • Evaluate their actions on target habitats, ecosystem processes and fish populations over time.
  • Leverage resources from partners.
  • Provide benefits to broad spatial scope of aquatic resources, beyond the immediate project site (e.g. reconnects multiple miles of river)
  • Identify measures of success and performance targets that are observable and amenable to pre- and post- project monitoring.
  • Include an outreach/education component in the local community.
  • Where applicable, incorporate best management practices that:
    • Ensure they will not spread invasive species
    • Use the most current science and technology for project design.
    • Incorporate climate change adaptation.

 

Other Considerations:

  • If you have multiple projects that are different project types, please submit separate proposals for each project type. For example, a project that will restore fish passage in one stream or watershed in three different locations is considered one project, but a project that removes a fish passage barrier and restores a wetland downstream of the barrier is considered two projects.
  • Fund recipients must follow federal requirements for accounting, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act, State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), and other applicable laws.
  • Please note that additional information may be REQUIRED at a later date.

 

Additional Information about the Online Application Process

Please include the following information in your proposal.  Section titles are guidelines based off the previous website-based application.

Overview

  •  Project title and type.
  •  Provide a project abstract in 500 characters or less.
  •  Identify project location. If your project includes multiple sites in a watershed, select a latitude and longitude for one of those sites. You can provide additional information about project locations later in the application.
  •  Select the 12-digit Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) for your project location. You may select more than one watershed.
  •  Identify the state/federal agency responsible for fish management.
  •  Is land ownership Federal, State, County, City, Tribal, Private, or Other?
  •  Will public fishing access is available at the project site?
  •  Please include your congressional district as well as all congressional districts in which physical activities of the project will occur.
  • Has NEPA been initiated? If so, to what extent?
  • Has federally threatened/endangered species review with USFWS and/or state natural resource agency been completed?
  • Has historical/cultural review with SHPO been completed?

Contacts

Provide contact information for the project officer for this proposal, and co-officer if appropriate.

If known, please include DUNS number and EIN

Funding

If federal funding has been received in the past, provide a general list of federal funding sources in 350 characters or less.

 Were you required to submit an A-133 single audit for last fiscal year?

 Is your SAM.gov profile currently active?

 Are you enrolled in ASAP (Automated Standard Application for Payments)?

Enter your project funding request and match. Applicants are encouraged to meet a three to one match for proposed projects. Matching funds may be federal or non-federal, in-kind or cash that has been applied to the proposed project within 2 years of the start date of this proposal.  Letters of intent may be requested from contributing partners before obligating funding.

To provide budget information, you may use the federal form SF 424a for non-construction projects or form SF 424c for construction projects. Please include a budget justification, including calculations for personnel allocation and descriptions of other expenses for all budget categories.  Forms available at: http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/forms/sf-424-family.html#sortby=1

Alternately, you may attach a file indicating how ORBFHP funding money would be spent using an excel spreadsheet. Please itemize costs and rationale for costs with as much detail as possible (e.g. purchase of 100’ bottomless culvert = $22,500; labor for backhoe operation and planting vegetation (100hrs @ $25/hour) = $2,500). Please do not inflate or underestimate costs. Indirect costs cannot exceed 10% unless applicants have an indirect cost agreement established with the federal government. We encourage minimizing indirect costs (10% or less).

 Identify one or more ORBFHP priorities that your project addresses.

 Enter the aquatic species that your project benefits. Be sure to include all applicable

ORBFHP Signature Species (Appendix 1).  Included species must be near enough project to be directly affected.

 Describe project objectives and methods using SMART format (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time bound).

Enter metrics that will be used to measure success for assessment and/or conservation projects: conservation actions taken, number of aquatic populations assessed, total miles of in-stream/riparian habitat assessed, number of aquatic organism passage barriers removed or bypassed, number of acres of upland/wetland habitat assessed, number of miles reopened to fish passage.

 What are the root causes of habitat degradation? Use up to 250 characters to describe the root causes of habitat degradation in the project area and the causes your project will address.

 

Management

 What is your desired start date and anticipated project duration?

 Describe how the project is part of a watershed scale effort in 1,000 characters or less.

 Describe how the project will be monitored in 1,000 characters or less.

You may provide additional information you feel is relevant to your proposal and not covered elsewhere in 1,000 characters or fewer. Provide a map and photos of your project site.

 Please answer the following in fewer than 1,000 characters each:

1. Describe why you feel you and your organization are qualified to successfully complete all aspects of this project.

2. Describe any planned outreach or educational component(s) and partner(s) involved.

3. What methods will you use to promote the project if it is funded?

4. Will the project prevent the spread of invasive species, and if so, please describe how.

5. Describe how the project will use best management practices and/or use most current science/technology.

6. Does the project incorporate strategies that will respond to climate change? You may include additional information that you feel is relevant to your proposal, including planning documents, additional information on project sites, project fact sheets, etc. Please limit uploaded materials to 10 pages total. Links to a website that has additional information are welcome.

 

Partnership Info

Please include existing plans that your project addresses or is integrated with.  Links to websites of partnering organizations are appreciated.

Please send your completed proposal to Donovan Henry (Donovan_Henry@fws.gov) and Collin Moratz (Collin_Moratz@fws.gov).  Please e-mail or call, (618) 997-6869, with any questions.

FY 2018 Brook Trout Conservation Funding Opportunity

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture (EBTJV) are jointly requesting project proposals that are focused on Brook Trout conservation actions. Federal funding available under the Service’s National Fish Habitat Action Plan (NFHAP) budget allocation will be used to support top ranked proposals. All proposed projects must be developed in coordination with the appropriate U.S Fish and Wildlife Service Sponsoring Office.

The maximum award amount for an individual project is $50,000. These funds can only be used for on-the-ground habitat conservation and restoration projects and related design and monitoring activities; they may not be used for research projects or acquisitions in fee or easements. Applicants are encouraged to review the Service’s guidelines for the use of NFHAP funds.  All projects must also have a minimum of a 1:1 contribution from other funding sources.  If your project involves removing more than one barrier to Brook Trout movements, a separate application is required for each individual barrier.

To ensure available funding is being directed most effectively, proposed projects must be geared toward meeting the EBTJV’s range-wide habitat goals and objectives.  Project applications will be reviewed and ranked by the EBTJV based on their ability to meet other key factors that can be found in the EBTJV’s 2018 Project Scoring Criteria.

Project application requirements:

2018 Project Application Form

Letter of Support from the State Fisheries Management Agency - Please obtain a letter of support from the appropriate State Fisheries Management Agency for your project.  This letter should be from the individual that represents the state in the EBTJV (i.e., EBTJV State Contact).

Photographs and USFWS Photo Release Form -Photographs in JPEG or TIFF format should be uploaded into your project folder independently of the application.  A photo release form needs to be completed and uploaded for each photo submitted.

Coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sponsoring Office - Applicants are required to develop their projects in coordination with their local Service Fisheries Office that will sponsor the project in advance of the application deadline. Sponsoring Fisheries Offices must enter the project in the Service’s database for funding consideration.  Additionally, they can provide technical assistance to applicants during project development, the application process, and during project implementation and monitoring.

Applications must be submitted electronically via the EBTJV website in the folder labeled "Add and Upload required materials for your 2018 Application Submission".

The deadline for submitting project applications is 5;00 p.m. Eastern time on September 22, 2017. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Applicants will be notified of their project’s ranking and funding status as that information becomes available. The amount of funding and time of availability is unknown at this time.  All projects that receive Service NFHAP funding are required to provide annual progress reports to the Service and project completion forms, with after project photos, to the EBTJV.

For questions, please contact:

Stephen Perry, Coordinator

Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture

Phone: (603) 528-1371

Email: ebtjv.coordinator@gmail.com

Land Trusts: Bringing Landscape-Scale Resources to Local Communities

“Just because we all wear tan shirts, doesn’t mean we all play in the same sand box,” said Rick Huffines, Executive Director of the Tennessee River Gorge Trust (TRGT). “It’s all about conservation work, but each entity has their own mission and way of doing business.”

For land trusts such as the TRGT that means working with and addressing the needs of the communities they serve. While other agencies rely on and interact with their local communities, Huffines explains “(Land Trusts) live and die by the community. Folks don’t have to support what we do; folks choose to support what we do.”

That sentiment is carried by land trusts throughout the Appalachians. Kelly Watkinson, now with the Land Trust Alliance and former Executive Director of the Cacapon and Lost Rivers Land Trust in West Virginia, shared Huffines community-driven philosophy, “Our primary focus is working with private land owners to protect important resources in the watershed. We’re driven by the local land owners and their strong connection to the resources of the area.”

The TRGT near Chattanooga, Tennessee is a perfect example of the unique role land trusts play in local conservation. The Trust was formed in 1981, not by a government mandate but from a dinner party at a Chattanooga resident’s home where she and her guests expressed concern about the development on the mountains bordering Chattanooga. The residents decided the 27,000-acre gorge was worth protecting and from there the Trust was born to ensure the land would remain as a healthy and productive resource for the community.

To this day, land trusts are still operated by and for the communities they serve—keeping community involvement a central theme in their efforts. The territory of focus for the Cacapon and Lost Rivers Land Trust encompasses three wildlife management areas, two state parks, and cushions up against both the Washington and Jefferson national forests—all offering ample opportunities for outdoor recreation. Within five miles of the bustling city of Chattanooga, the TRGT encourages residents to take advantage of the Gorge’s immense beauty and many recreational opportunities, offering camping, kayaking, cycling, hiking, and much more.

Many of these recreational opportunities can also offer a double purpose. For example, a new bird observatory at the TRGT encourages birding and keeps track of what birds’ visitors can expect to see. It also allows the Trust to monitor populations as they come through the Gorge. Since birds are an indicator species, monitoring their populations over time can reveal vital information about the unique ecosystems within the Gorge and their health.

The information gathered by land trusts is vital, not just to the immediate territory of land trusts, but to the landscape on a larger level. As Watkinson puts it, “It’s essential to think about how our lands fits within the larger region. If we’re not seeing that, we’re not seeing the bigger picture.”

That’s where a partnership like the Appalachian Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) comes in. It brings together a diverse coalition of scientists and resource managers from federal, state, NGOs, universities, and tribes to harness expertise, creativity, and passion to work at a larger scale and collectively tackle long-term conservation challenges.

Work on a landscape scale can mean a number of things, but the main purpose is to create a network of people that share data and information, technology and tools, and lessons learned along the way to enhance conservation collaboration and make a greater impact on the landscape. As Huffines puts it, “It’s not just people working in silos. If someone needs something, needs assistance, we should be coming together to help each other out.”

Recently Huffines and the Trust staff hosted a workshop with their partners and Appalachian LCC staff in the hopes of spreading this landscape conservation philosophy to neighboring organizations. The workshop familiarized participants with the Appalachian LCC; its mission, recent activities and newly developed resources available to partners to improve their conservation planning and management efforts. The workshop provided a wealth of regional information, provided a larger context to the local conservation taking place, and maybe more importantly brought neighboring land trusts in Tennessee together in the same room to talk about the challenges and issues they are dealing with.

“I worked for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service back in 2009 when we started talking about LCCs and I realized that what we hoped for back then was finally coming to fruition,” said Huffines. “I was just overwhelmed to see how far the LCC had advanced and felt there was a need to share my excitement with others.”

The Appalachians are a big place with many incredibly unique ecosystems dotted across the landscape, each one worth protecting. There is no simple solution to how to achieve that, especially in a way where protected lands are connected to each other so wildlife can migrate and adjust to changing conditions. But we do know that one group cannot accomplish it alone. When neighboring organizations band together it lightens the work load for everyone.

CumberlandRiverBasin.org

  • CumberlandRiverBasin.org is home to a warehouse of over 1,500 watershed stewardship resources. These resources link visitors to the water-related work of over 75 agencies, city governments, and NGOs who are working to promote water quality in our basin.
  • iCreek is a web application found at CumberlandRiverBasin.org. iCreek connects any basin address to the waterway it impacts. If that waterway is unhealthy, iCreek suggests mitigation strategies that could improve its health and also lists basin resources and organizations that may be able to help address the problems in that waterway.

A National Experiment in Manager-Scientist Partnerships to Apply an Adaptation Framework

However, there is a lack of on-the-ground forest adaptation research to indicate what adaptation measures or tactics might be effective in preparing forest ecosystems to deal with climate change. Natural resource managers in many areas are also challenged by scant locally or regionally relevant information on climate projections and potential impacts. The Adaptive Silviculture for Climate Change (ASCC) project was designed to respond to these barriers to operationalizing climate adaptation strategies by providing a multiregion network of replicated operational-scale research sites testing ecosystem-specific climate change adaptation treatments across a gradient of adaptive approaches, and introducing conceptual tools and processes to integrate climate change considerations into management and silvicultural decision-making. Here we present the framework of the ASCC project, highlight the implementation process at two of the study sites, and discuss the contributions of this collaborative science-management partnership.

https://www.fs.fed.us/nrs/pubs/jrnl/2017/nrs_2017_nagel_001.pdf

NatureServe Enhances LandScope Chesapeake Conservation Tool with New Data and Content

LandScope is a conservation tool promoted by the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership (the Partnership), a regional coalition of 50 plus partners among the six states of the watershed and DC. The Partnership has long-term goals for the Chesapeake Bay to encourage a vibrant economy, strong communities, healthy people, working farms and forests, vital habitat for native wildlife, clean water, our shared heritage, recreation, and quality of life.

LandScope Chesapeake offers GIS and multimedia content as well as communications and training tools that can be used to set priorities for strategic conservation. In this NALCC funded project, NatureServe added or updated over 60 map layers including national, regional and state extent maps that overlap the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. NALCC is leading the habitat goal map development. Feedback from partners will result in a published set of priority goal maps. Accompanying the priority goal maps will be dashboard-style landing pages for each goal that will track partnership needs and accomplishments in each of these categories. During this project phase, NatureServe added 17 featured places in the Chesapeake Bay watershed in cooperation with local organizations. NatureServe also worked to promote the LandScope tool throughout the region, and engaged in multiple discussions with technical partners about advancing interoperability among shared services and tools.

The accomplishments under this grant benefitted from a concurrent cooperative agreement between NatureServe and the National Park Service. Through the two grant agreements, NatureServe supported the Partnership objectives of developing and sharing content to inform coordinated, collaborative conservation activities throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Welcome Aboard: Greg Sheehan Appointed as FWS Deputy Director

Prior to his appointment, Sheehan served as Director of the Utah Division of Wildlife Service. Sheehan has more than 25 years of experience with the State of Utah working in wildlife and natural resource management.

“We are grateful to have Greg Sheehan join our team and help lead USFWS as we advance a pro-conservation and more collaborative agenda at the Department,” said Secretary Zinke. “His experience and proven record in wildlife service as well as his organizational management skills will be an invaluable asset to the Service and the Department.”

On his appointment, Mr. Sheehan said, "I am thrilled to have an opportunity to work with Secretary Zinke and the great team at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. I look forward to helping promote the fish and wildlife resources in America through collaborative partnerships with states, local government, the sportsmen's community, and others."

Prior to joining the State of Utah, Sheehan worked with the Air Force for six years as a civilian, where his focus was on correcting inefficiencies in cost and pricing between the Air Force and major DoD government contractors. Sheehan is a lifelong hunter, angler, and aspiring wildlife photographer. Sheehan will begin in mid-June and will serve as the Acting Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service until a Director is nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

Chesapeake Executive Council signs resolution in support of Bay Program partnership

The resolution calls upon the President and United States Congress to continue the current level of federal support for the Chesapeake Bay Program, including the coordinating role of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Chesapeake Bay Program. It also calls for science, monitoring, modeling and restoration to continue with the full participation of local, state and federal agencies and private sector partners as appropriate.

Established in 1983, the Chesapeake Executive Council is responsible for guiding the Chesapeake Bay Program’s policy agenda and setting conservation and restoration goals. Its members include the governors of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, the Mayor of the District of Columbia, the Chair of the Chesapeake Bay Commission and the Administrator of the EPA on behalf of the federal government. Because of advocacy statements contained within the resolution, federal law and practice prohibited the EPA from signing.

Members of the Executive Council also elected Maryland Governor Larry Hogan as the new Chair. Governor Hogan succeeds Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, who became chair on January 1, 2015.

Under Governor McAuliffe’s two consecutive terms as Chair, the Executive Council announced the release of 25 management strategies outlining how the Bay Program will achieve the goals and outcomes of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement. Governor McAuliffe also oversaw last year’slandmark funding agreement between EPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to commit an additional $28 million dollars to help reduce nutrient pollution in the state.

“It has been my honor to serve as Chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Executive Council for the last two and a half years” said Governor McAuliffe. “We are seeing real, measurable progress in water quality and habitat in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries which bodes well for the future of the ecology of the bay and the significant economic activity it supports.  It is time to forcefully build on our success and continue to make the necessary state and federal investments in restoration, science and public engagement that have been the hallmark of this partnership.”

Executive Council members also heard from the local government, citizen and scientific communities from the council’s three advisory committees—the Citizens Advisory Committee, the Local Government Advisory Committee and the Science and Technical Advisory Committee—who voiced their support for the partnership.

"Now more than ever, we must work together to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay,” said Governor Hogan. “Our administration has invested more than $3 billion in Bay restoration efforts, fully funded the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund and Program Open Space, and expanded innovative partnerships to preserve this priceless resource and national treasure we call home. As the newly elected chair of the Executive Council, I pledge to be a fierce advocate for greater environmental progress and deeper collaboration upstream and throughout the Bay watershed."

Learn more about the 2017 Executive Council Meeting.

To view more photos, visit the Chesapeake Bay Program's Flickr page.

Photos by Will Parson and Skyler Ballard

Wildlife refuge biologist in West Virginia honored for endangered mussel conservation

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Acting Director Jim Kurth noted that Morrison’s “leadership, professionalism, and commitment to sound science have helped foster highly successful partnerships involving 24 state and Federal agencies and nonprofit organizations.”

During her tenure as the wildlife biologist for the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Patricia Morrison worked tirelessly to secure partnerships and funding to advance the recovery of imperiled mussel species including pink mucket, clubshell, orange-foot pimpleback, spectaclecase, purple cat's paw pearlymussel, northern riffleshell, fanshell, ring pink, white wartyback, and sheepnose. Her work led to significant conservation milestones including the establishment of new mussel populations and advances in propagation techniques such as the first ever in-vitro propagation of orange-foot pimpleback. These efforts greatly reduced extinction likelihood by addressing population decline and population fragmentation for these species.

Recovery Champions are U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff and their partners whose work is advancing the recovery of endangered and threatened species of plants and animals.

Survey: Controlled Invasive Plants on Property

To do this we rely entirely on the landowners - both public and private - in our region to take the required actions.  We seek to empower landowners with the best possible information to make the work as easy and effective as possible, while minimizing your costs.  The more we understand about the challenges you face and your interests and needs, the more effective we can be in serving you.

To this end we are seeking information from landowners who are already doing the work.  If you have controlled invasive plants on your property in the past, or are doing so now, we would like to know about your good work!   In addition, we hope to expand invasives control by encouraging the development of stewardship areas (collaborative groups) in each of our ten counties.  Stewardship areas typically begin with landowners who not only control invasives on their own properties, but who are willing to collaborate with their neighbors.  If you would like to be part of this effort, or again if you would just like to report the work you are doing on your own property, we invite you to answer the following short survey.  We will use the information to create a map of invasive control efforts in our region, and we will be in touch if you would like support in reaching out to your neighbors and organizing a stewardship area.

Note that there are only 2 required questions on the survey (noted with red asterisks); all the other questions are optional.

The survey can be accessed at: https://goo.gl/forms/D8FXah0dxlRju9S13.

Request for Statements of Interest: Assessment of Natural Resource Condition for First State National Historical Park

Approximately $65,000 is expected to be available to support this project.  This Request for Statements of Interest and Qualifications has been distributed to partners of the North Atlantic Coast, Chesapeake Watershed, and Great Lakes- Northern Forest Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Units (CESU).

National Park Service’s (NPS) Financial Assistance Policy Office is requiring a process change for awarding financial assistance under cooperative and task agreements in the CESU Network. Consistent with this Policy, the Northeast Region of NPS now requires non-federal CESU partners to have individual $0 Master Cooperative Agreements in place before Task Agreements can be created using the existing process. This project will be funded as a Task Agreement under these new Master Cooperative Agreements. Each non-federal partner will need to respond to the CESU Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) that is currently posted at: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/search- grants.html?keywords=p17as00037,which contains complete details of the process and what is required. Please contact your Office of Sponsored Projects and ask them to respond to the CESU NOFO as soon as possible, if they have not done so already. If you are selected for this project, it is essential that a new Master Cooperative Agreement is in place for the Task Agreement to be processed this fiscal year.

Background: Congress, in its FY 2003 Appropriations Act, instructed and funded the National Park Service (NPS) to assess environmental conditions in watersheds where National Park units are located. Threats from nutrient enrichment, exotic species, water/air pollution, climate change, and development pressure are management concerns for many Parks. The NPS Natural Resource Condition Assessment Program seeks to understand and evaluate the existing condition of park natural resources. Information gained under this program will form the basis for development of actions to restore and provide enhanced protection of park resources if warranted. Visit the following site for additional details on the Natural Resource Condition Assessment Program: http://www.nature.nps.gov/water/nrca/index.cfm

The study proposed here will use existing information sources to assess the condition of natural resources at First State National Historical Park (FRST) which is made up of seven different sites located in Wilmington, New Castle, Dover, and Lewes, Delaware. Beaver Valley is the largest component of FRST consisting of 1,100 acres of rolling hills and wooded areas along the Brandywine River which were preserved to ensure its scenic rural beauty remained for future generations. Fort Christina is located on the banks of the Christina River and is a short walk from the Old Swedes Church. The New Castle Courthouse is adjacent to the Green in Dover and just 6 miles from the John Dickinson Plantation. The Ryves Holt House is located in Lewes. The natural habitats at FRST include aquatic, wetland, forested, and meadow landscapes that are suitable for a variety of plants, fish, amphibians and reptiles, invertebrates, mammals, and birds.

Park managers are challenged to address the issues of water quality degradation, introduction of exotic species, air pollution, habitat fragmentation, recreational use, and others. These may all have dramatic impacts on ecosystem function, integrity, and habitat quantity and quality. Results of these assessments will be integrated into individual park and servicewide databases and provide the parks with an integrated, overall evaluation of current resource conditions for upland, riparian, wetland, and aquatic areas as they exist within park boundaries. The assessments will also identify environmental threats or stressors to park natural resources and offer recommendations on information gaps.

Assessment Objectives

The natural resource assessment will use existing information sources to evaluate (e.g. within watersheds, ecosystem types, park management zones, etc.) the condition of park natural resources, identify stressors or threats to park natural resources, and identify information gaps. The assessment should emphasize, but not be limited to, geospatial analyses and reporting (GIS layers) to maximize usefulness of the assessment findings in park planning and natural resource management activities.

Existing information will be multidisciplinary (e.g., biological-ecological, water chemistry, hydrology, etc.), from a variety of sources, including the NPS, other federal agencies, state and local agencies, and others, and in a number of formats, including published literature and technical reports, databases, and GIS shapefiles. The NPS Inventory and Monitoring Program (http://science.nature.nps.gov/im/index.cfm) has identified core sets of indicators for long-term monitoring of park conditions and responses to stressors which can be a good starting point for developing individual park condition assessments.

EXISTING CONDITION

  • Current condition of park natural resources (terrestrial and aquatic), is to be based on an integration and evaluation of existing data, relying on various information sources and formats.
  • Condition of ecosystem types (forests, wetlands, riverine, meadow etc.), management zones, watersheds, or other appropriate designations should be based on a diversity of factors or indicators such as presence/absence of non-native species, presence of rare habitats, water quality, or incidence of forest pests.
  • Resource condition can be based on comparisons to reference data sets, comparisons to regional conditions, comparisons to established standards (e.g., water quality standards), evaluation of temporal trends in parameters, multi- parameter indices/metrics, or other approaches.
  • Findings should be presented in a geo-spatial framework, where possible (e.g., linear distance of park streams classified as outstanding or impaired, a shapefile showing condition comparisons among park watersheds or management zones).

STRESSORS-THREATS

  • Identify and quantify existing and emerging regional and local threats to park resources, such as sound impacts, encroaching urban/suburban land use, and upstream watershed development.
  • Present findings in a geo-spatial framework, if appropriate (e.g., area of park forest habitat stressed by insect pests, exotic plants, etc.).

DATA GAPS

  • Identify further studies and data needs that would assist in better describing condition and evaluating impacts from threats.

Brief Description of Anticipated Work:

  1. Collaborate with NPS personnel and other appropriate agencies to identify sources of information and natural resource management and protection concerns.
  1. Compile available data sources pertaining to the natural resources identified by park staff as being of critical management significance within the park and available information on threats or stressors to park natural resources.
  1. Synthesize existing information to assess the current condition of park natural resources, where possible. When appropriate, present the synthesis within a geospatial or GIS-based framework, identifying the extent and condition of the target resources (e.g. wetland habitats, waterways, grassland areas, and forest communities). Identify the extent and/or presence-absence of park natural resources influenced by threats or stressors. [NOTE: The NPS will provide access to relevant GIS data layers within the park GIS data management system; however, it is expected that the investigator(s) will seek additional GIS data sources from other federal, state, and local agencies and organizations that may be relevant].
  1. Provide recommendations for future studies that address additional information needs necessary to better define the condition of park natural resources and understand the relationship of stressors/threats to park condition.
  1. Prepare a written report of findings that:
  • Describes the parameters/metrics used to define natural resource condition. Examples of parameters/metrics used in previous assessments include: presence of invasive species; water quality (e.g. dissolved oxygen, pH, and conductivity levels); land use dynamics; avian IBIs, and wetland buffer indices.
  • Describes the quality of the data currently available as it relates to deriving at the condition assessment for a given park resource and subsequent investigator confidence (qualitative) in the assessed condition of a given resource using those data.
  • Describes and synthesizes available information on threats or stressors to natural resources.
  • Provides recommendations for future studies or improved long term monitoring activities that address additional information needs necessary to better define the condition of park natural resources and to understand the relationship of stressors/threats to park condition.
  • Presents all data included in the assessment, including GIS data layers with accompanying metadata.

Examples of completed Natural Resource Condition Assessment documents can be viewed and downloaded at: http://www.nature.nps.gov/water/nrca/reports.cfm.

Materials Requested for Statement of Interest/Qualifications:

Please provide the following via e-mail attachment to: christine_arnott@nps.gov (Maximum length: 5 pages, single-spaced 12 pt. font).

  1. Name, Organization and Contact Information
  2. Brief Statement of Qualifications (including):
  • Biographical Sketch(s) for key personnel (faculty, staff), including a description of discipline(s) of expertise. Curriculum vitas can be submitted as an attachment and not included in the above-stated 5-page limit.
  • Relevant past projects and clients with brief descriptions of these projects.
  • Brief description of the proposed approach(es) for conducting an interdisciplinary, spatially-based assessment of park natural resource conditions, encompassing terrestrial and aquatic resources.
  • Any brief description of capabilities to successfully complete the project you may wish to add (e.g. GIS capability, computers, equipment, access to information sources, previous research experiences at the park or region, etc.).

Note: A proposed budget is NOT requested at this time.

Review Criteria:

Based on a review of the Statements of Interest received, an investigator or investigators will be invited to prepare a full study proposal. Statements will be evaluated based on the investigator’s interdisciplinary expertise and capabilities in studying and synthesizing information related to upland and aquatic ecosystems, landscape dynamics, various terrestrial/aquatic biota (20 points), extracting data from multiple databases (10 points), interpreting data through quantitative analyses (10 points), and demonstrated skills in GIS (5 points).Previous experiences studying at the park or within the region will also be considered (5 points). Because of the broad scope of this project, an interdisciplinary approach is necessary.

Please submit Statements of Interest and Qualifications, via email, to:

Christine Arnott, PhD
Biologist and NRCA Coordinator
National Park Service
Northeast Region
200 Chestnut St., 3rd Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19106
215-597-1158 (office)
christine_arnott@nps.gov

Questions are welcome via email or phone.

Timeline for Review of Statements of Interest: Review of Statements of Interest will begin June 9, 2017.

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