“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” As this year of 2017 draws to a close, all I find myself thinking and saying is “good riddance!” and “bring on 2018!” A year ago, we were just starting to come to grips with an election that has been calamitous to many of the things I hold dear, especially for conservation, and there has been little to cheer since then. One bright spot for me personally, though, occurred just about a month ago at the National Forum on Landscape Conservation in Shepherdstown, WV.
“In baseball, you don’t know nothing.” - Yogi Berra If you haven’t heard the news, LCC’s are targeted for elimination in the Trump Administration’s FY18 federal budget, which was submitted to Congress a few weeks ago, and would (theoretically) begin October 1, 2017. From a federal budgeting perspective, it’s like the opening pitch in a 9-inning baseball game, and Congress is up to bat next. Ultimately, Congress has the responsibility of passing a federal budget and submitting it to the President for his signature.
"This country has gotten where it is in spite of politics, not by the aid of it. That we have carried as much political bunk as we have and still survived shows we are a super nation." - Will Rogers (1932) Well, the world of conservation was certainly thrown a curve ball on November 8, 2016. The election of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States was unexpected by many people. For those of us in the conservation profession, it raises many questions on what the new President-elect’s priorities will be for our country.
Just shy of three years ago, I took a bold leap and joined the GCPO LCC team as Geomatics Coordinator. I can now say without a doubt that it was one of the best decisions of my life. When I first introduced myself as LCC staff I said “I believe whole-heartedly in the partnership-based vision necessary to address landscape-scale ecological sustainability.” That sentiment is even stronger today as we’ve made such tremendous progress working toward the first LCC conservation blueprint, and subsequently, the first iteration of the Southeastern Conservation Adaptation Strategy.
Two weeks ago I attended the Southeastern Partners in Plant Conservation (SePPCon) meeting  in Atlanta, Georgia.
Introduction: While never a dominant feature in the landscape, natural grassland systems once formed an ecologically cohesive and important “archipelago” or “shifting mosaic” of patches of open grasses and broad-leaved herbaceous flowering plants called forbs, usually on calcareous soils in belted formations, across much of the East and West Gulf Coastal Plains and, more rarely, in parts of the Ozark Highlands and Gulf Coast. About 99% of these landscapes have been converted to other land uses or have transitioned into forested conditions due to fire suppression and ecological succession.
It’s no secret that Landscape Conservation Cooperatives are in uncertain times. A year ago, GCPO staff unveiled our first iteration of the GCPO (in concert with SECAS) Conservation Blueprint, and laid out a vision for the next 5 years of landscape-scale conservation planning in the GCPO LCC. We hoped to advance our work into ecosystem services and better understanding of the social context of conservation decision making.