Major report on large landscape conservation released
For immediate release
Contact: Anthony Flint 617-503-2116
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (May 28, 2010) – On this Memorial Day Weekend as many Americans head outdoors to open spaces, the nation is reminded about the importance of land conservation. Today the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy released a report highlighting new grassroots and collaborative strategies for managing large areas for the enjoyment of generations to come.
Large Landscape Conservation: A Strategic Framework for Policy and Action, the latest Policy Focus Report published by the Lincoln Institute, describes regionally based initiatives currently underway in forest lands, ecosystems, watersheds, and wildlife corridors that involve multiple jurisdictions and ownership. The report recommends ways to encourage such efforts and foster innovation going forward.
Nearly a century after President Theodore Roosevelt expanded the national parks system, a new approach is needed to balance many different stakeholders in large land areas that cross many boundaries, said Lincoln Institute senior fellow Armando Carbonell. “We are in a new era,” he said.
The report will be available at the first of several “listening sessions” being scheduled by the Obama administration June 2 in Helena, Bozeman, and Missoula, Montana. At the White House Conference on America’s Great Outdoors in April, President Obama announced his interest in new approaches for modern-day land conservation and the importance of reconnecting Americans to parks, forests, and working landscapes.
Recognizing that the most important land and water issues facing North America—including land use patterns, water management, biodiversity protection, and climate adaptation—require new approaches, several regional groups have come together to focus on land and water issues at the appropriate geographic scale, which almost always transcend the reach of existing jurisdictions and institutions.
A leading example is the Crown of the Continent Roundtable, a network to unite the more than 100 government agencies, non-government organizations, tribal groups, and place-based partnerships with a stake in the 10-million acre area spanning western Montana across the Canadian border into Alberta. The Crown of the Continent is known as a cultural and ecological crossroads, where plant and animal communities from the Pacific Northwest, eastern prairies, southern Rockies, and boreal forests mingle.
The common currency in large landscape conservation is regional collaboration—the ability to work across boundaries with people and organizations that have diverse interests yet share a common place, said Matthew McKinney, director of the Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Policy at the University of Montana, and lead author of the report. The other co-authors are Lynn Scarlett, former deputy secretary at the U.S. Department of the Interior under President George W. Bush, and Daniel Kemmis, former mayor of Missoula, Montana, and former speaker and minority leader of the Montana House of Representatives.
The report concludes with the following recommendations to improve the practice and performance of large landscape conservation initiatives:
* Gather and share information. Establish a common, coherent scientific database, and develop an annotated atlas of governance efforts.
* Encourage a network of practitioners to build capacity. Catalyze collaboration through a network similar to the Land Trust Alliance to identify best practices and advocate for policy reforms.
* Establish a national competitive grants program to enable and sustain promising efforts. Facilitate homegrown partnerships, improve coordination among ongoing efforts, and recognize the most promising approaches to large landscape conservation.
* Improve the policy toolkit. Strengthen incentive-based tools for landowner conservation and improve coordination and participation by federal and other governmental agencies.
* Facilitate innovative funding opportunities. Maximize and focus the use of existing federal and state programs and authorities that can be implemented quickly and without significant new funding.
While there is no single model for large landscape conservation, key guiding principles can be applied to create homegrown solutions for particular places. Successful efforts thus far include:
Freedom to Roam: A coalition of business, government and conservation groups ensuring that wildlife can move, migrate, and adapt under the challenges of habitat fragmentation and a changing climate in North America.
America’s Longleaf Pine Initiative: An ad hoc public-private partnership with a multi-state strategy to restore Longleaf pine forests in the southeast U.S.
Platte River Cooperative Agreement and Implementation Program: A negotiated agreement for managing the river basin in Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming, to protect endangered species while allowing recreational water uses to continue.
Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor: A grassroots initiative blessed by Congress to protect the natural and cultural heritage of the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution, along the 46-mile run of the river from Worcester, Mass. to Providence, R.I.
Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan: A $7 billion inter-governmental effort for the nation’s most ambitious ecosystem restoration initiative, encompassing an 18,000-square-mile region of subtropical uplands, wetlands, and coral reefs from south of Orlando to the Florida Keys.
Las Cienegas National Conservation Area: A shared decision-making authority authorized by Congress through the Bureau of Land Management and the Sonoita Valley Planning Partnership to manage public lands and resources across a high-desert basin and wildlife corridor across the Southwest and northern Mexico.
Tahoe Regional Planning Agency: The nation’s first interstate land use authority to maintain environmental quality within the 500-square-mile Lake Tahoe Basin spanning Nevada and California, amid private development, tourism, ranching, and logging.
About the Authors
Matthew McKinney is director of the Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Policy at the University of Montana. Lynn Scarlett is an independent environmental consultant working on climate change, ecosystem services, water, and landscape-scale conservation. From 2005 to 2009 she served as deputy secretary and chief operating officer of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Daniel Kemmis is a private consultant, working primarily in the natural resource and philanthropy arenas. He is a former mayor of Missoula, Montana, and a former speaker and minority leader of the Montana House of Representatives.
About the Lincoln Institute
The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy is a leading resource for key issues concerning the use, regulation, and taxation of land. Providing high-quality education and research, the Institute strives to improve public dialogue and decisions about land policy. The work on cross-boundary large landscape conservation has been part of the ongoing joint venture of the Lincoln Institute and the Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Policy.
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