Partnership Pulse Check
Over the last several weeks, Kenny Ribbeck (Chair of the GCPO LCC Steering Committee) and I have been conducting phone conversations with individual Steering Committee members, to provide us with a sort of pulse check on where we are as a partnership, and to learn more about our partners’ individual priorities and needs from their association with the GCPO LCC. We’re not finished with those discussions yet, but we have been able to talk with 10 Steering Committee members thus far, and I want to provide you with a brief synopsis of what we have learned. All in all, the conversations have been very positive and constructive, and Steering Committee members have been able to be frank and honest in their comments to Kenny and me, and I really appreciate that. Each conversation has started out with a discussion about the individual organization’s participation in the GCPO LCC, and whether the individual representing the organization on the Steering Committee is the right individual. For me personally, my best hope is to have a Steering Committee representative who has both the authority to represent their agency and a passion and interest in landscape-scale conservation that they can bring to the table with them. You don’t often get both qualities with an individual Steering Committee representative, but when you do, magic can happen.
Participation and communication challenges
We also discussed the challenges of our partner organizations in maintaining their active participation in the GCPO LCC, and how to best keep each organizations staff informed about what’s going on in the partnership. These issues are not trivial, and perhaps are really one of the biggest challenges that we face in moving conservation forward. Several Steering Committee members discussed the difficulties of fitting LCC activities into their busy schedules, and the challenges of having their staffs become engaged in the GCPO. But this so critical to the ultimate success of the GCPO LCC. So, for each organization, I have requested contact information for individuals who need to be included in the various LCC communications that we send out, primarily through our monthly newsletter. We are also seeking additional participation on the Adaptation Science Management Team, and later this fall, will be soliciting input from our partners and other interested stakeholders at Stakeholder Workshops where we’ll be rolling out an initial conservation blueprint that will become part of the Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy (SECAS). We’ll be advertising the dates and locations of those workshops in early November.
Where and how LCCs meet the needs of partners
Lastly, we asked Steering Committee members about their organizations’ interests and priorities in being a part of the GCPO LCC. Their responses were varied, and reflected both the diverse interests of our partners, but also the niche that they play in landscape-scale conservation. For example, an organization like Ducks Unlimited has waterfowl conservation as its core mission; a state fish and wildlife agency is focused on the conservation of their state trust species; The Nature Conservancy has a broad mission to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends; and a federal agency such as the Corps of Engineers has multiple missions that serve the interests of our country. Even with these diverse interests among the partners, certain themes were mentioned that provide a common foundation for our partnership.
Several Steering Committee members mentioned the importance of thinking and planning at a large landscape scale. Members mentioned that their daily activities and work priorities don’t allow them the luxury of looking at a bigger picture of conservation, and they believed that this was an important perspective for the LCC to bring to their staffs and organizations. This has certainly been an important focus of the GCPO LCC, and it’s nice to have that reaffirmed by our Steering Committee members. Another topic discussed was climate change, especially understanding the impacts of climate change on rare species, critical habitat systems, migration patterns, and the resiliency of both ecosystems and human-natural systems. For some members, they simply don’t have the capacity or expertise to address these conservation questions, and they appreciated the fact that the LCC can bring science and tools to the table for their benefit and use. Other partners, especially on the federal side, have capacity to address these issues, but find value in the LCC’s ability to bring a diverse partnership together to collaborate on those solutions. Finally, even organizations with a fairly narrow focus, such as Ducks Unlimited’s on waterfowl conservation, have a good understanding that larger conservation issues like the impacts of global change, whether it be climate or urban growth, on water quality and quantity are critical to understand and to solve. The GCPO LCC can help to bring about the science and collaboration needed to provide those answers.
I just want to offer a quick note of thanks to the Steering Committee members that Kenny and I have been able to talk with – we really appreciate your willingness to provide both your time and your honest responses to our inquiry. I also want to extend an invitation to those Steering Committee members whom we haven’t been able to speak with. We’re always open to having a conversation with you, and look forward to that opportunity.