Happy New Year!
It’s beginning to look like a really busy year in the GCPO LCC. Of course, it was great to take some time off over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, spend time with family and friends and get outdoors. But now the calendar has flipped into a new year, 2016, and it’s clear that this is shaping up to be quite a year for our partnership.
First, we just concluded a successful Geospatial Science Meeting in Jackson, MS, jointly hosted with the Gulf Coast Prairie LCC. You can read more about the outcomes of that meeting in Kristine Evans’ blog here.
Over the next couple of months, we’ll be hosting a number of workshops throughout the GCPO geography, which are aimed at developing the foundational layers of a conservation blueprint for the GCPO LCC. Over the last year, our geospatial science staff, Kristine Evans, Yvonne Allen and Toby Gray, have been working with Science Coordinator Todd Jones-Farrand to conduct ecological assessments of the LCC’s nine priority habitat systems, based on landscape endpoints that describe functional systems in the GCPO. These rapid ecological assessments are being used as foundational layers to help define the current conservation landscape in the GCPO LCC, as we currently understand it. The Conservation Blueprint workshops are designed to provide our partners an opportunity to review our maps and other Blueprint products, and to help shape the Conservation Blueprint process for the GCPO LCC. You can learn more about these workshops by reading Todd Jones-Farrand’s blog.
Spring Steering Committee Retreat
In June, we’ll hold our annual Spring Steering Committee retreat, and we’re already in the early stages of planning that event. This year’s retreat will be held in Baton Rouge, LA, in conjunction with the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (All-Hands Meeting), June 13-17, 2016. Our planning is still in the early stages for this meeting, but tentatively we’re discussing a Gulf Coast-related session with GOMA and the Gulf Coast Prairie LCC, and also a joint session with the GCP LCC on hydrology in forested wetland habitat systems, a priority for both of our LCCs. We’ll also be providing an overview of the Conservation Blueprint to our Steering Committee. It’s going to be a busy meeting, but also a great opportunity to network with the Gulf Coast conservation community and our colleagues in the GCP LCC. Stay tuned for further updates as we get closer to June.
Fall Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy Leadership Summit
Finally, in October, we’ll be back in Baton Rouge for the Annual Conference of the Southeastern Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) and our annual fall Steering Committee meeting. This fall represents a milestone of sorts, the 5-year timeframe for the Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy, or SECAS. When we first pitched the SECAS concept to the SEAFWA Directors way back in 2011, we suggested to them that the LCCs would be the primary workhorses for the initiative, and we asked for 5 years to produce some tangible products. We’ve been working towards that goal ever since, and have been making steady progress all along the way.
In October, we plan to roll out the first iteration of a SECAS Conservation Blueprint, Version 1.0, which will represent the collective visions of the 6 LCCs that are formally involved in SECAS. We also are planning a SECAS Leadership Summit at the 2016 SEAFWA Annual Conference, which will build on the very successful SECAS Symposium that was held at last November’s SEAFWA Conference in Asheville, NC. October 2016 is an important milestone for SECAS, but certainly not the end product – our vision for SECAS is that it will become ingrained into the way we do conservation work in the 21st century, and helps the conservation community to continue evolving as time moves along.
Yep, 2016 is going to be a busy year! But it’s also going to be exciting to watch the continued progress in the GCPO LCC. I hope you’ll join us for the ride!