June 24, 2015
Gulf Partnership Celebrates Successes, Makes Plan for the Future at Annual Meeting.
More than 40 representatives from partner organizations, natural resource agencies, and funders met in Biloxi last week to make plans for the future of the Gulf Partnership. The Gulf Partnership will become an independent organization in the coming months after having been under the umbrella of the Land Trust Alliance for five years. Kevin Brice, Director of the Southeast Program of the Land Trust Alliance announced a $100,000 grant from the United States Forest Service to assist the Gulf Partnership with the transition.
Bob Stokes, Chair of the Executive Committee, stated, “We are very appreciative of the Land Trust Alliance’s efforts to create and support the Gulf Partnership. I know they are proud of what we have accomplished over the past five years, including the publication of our landmark report A Land Conservation Vision for the Gulf of Mexico Region: An Overview, and the protection of 25,000 acres of critical habitat through our Project Assistance Fund. The Land Trust Alliance will continue to be a long term partner of ours as we craft our way forward as an independent organization.”
The event closed with a luncheon and discussion featuring Laura Bowie, Director of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance; Alyssa Dausman, PhD, Senior Advisor to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council; and Tanner Johnson, Director, Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund (TX, LA) of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The luncheon speakers discussed resources for strategic land conservation in the oil spill restoration process. Laura Bowie provided an overview of the Deepwater Horizon Project Tracker which may be helpful to land trusts and others as they develop proposals for funding sources. Use this link to see the tracker and find out how your proposed project relates to other efforts: http://www.dwhprojecttracker.org/. Alyssa Dausman reminded attendees that the RESTORE Council is using a rigorous scientific review for all Bucket 2 proposals. Tanner Johnson’s take home message was that the Gulf States have significant influence regarding projects funded by the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund.
Kevin Norton, state conservationist in Louisiana for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) recently announced the availability of $17.5 million in financial and technical assistance nationwide to help eligible conservation partners voluntarily protect, restore and enhance critical wetlands on private and tribal agricultural lands. Funding will be provided through the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership (WREP), a special enrollment option under the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program’s Wetland Reserve Easement component. It is administered by NRCS. Under WREP, states, local units of governments, non-governmental organizations and American Indian tribes collaborate with USDA through cooperative and partnership agreements. These partners work with willing tribal and private landowners who voluntarily enroll eligible land into easements to protect, restore and enhance wetlands on their properties. WREP was created through the 2014 Farm Bill and was formerly known as the Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program.
Proposals must be submitted to state offices by July 15, 2015. To find proposal requirements, review criteria and submittal instructions, please visit the Louisiana NRCS Website. http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/la/home/.
NRDA Trustees Extend Public Comment Period until July 6, 2015 for the Phase IV Early Restoration Plan.
The Draft Phase IV Early Restoration Plan is available for public review at www.gulfrestoration.noaa.gov. The draft plan proposes 10 projects that have a combined estimated cost of $134 million. The proposed projects would benefit sea turtles, birds, and fish; increase recreational opportunities; and improve nearshore and reef habitats. The Gulf Partnership will submit comments on behalf of the land conservation community to highlight our concerns with the plan.
Gulf Partnership Connects with Gulf of Mexico Alliance Colleagues at the All Hands Meeting.
Elizabeth Barber, Co-coordinator of the Gulf Partnership, provided an overview of the organization’s work to more than 50 colleagues during the Conservation, Restoration, and Resilience Planning Session. Land protection was discussed as a key strategy for restoration in the Water Quality, Coastal Resilience, and Habitat Resources Teams.
Texas Conservation Organizations Applaud Projects in NRDA Phase IV Plan.
On June 9, a consortium of conservation and environmental groups released a statement praising the Texas projects identified in the latest Early Restoration Plan proposed by the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) trustees. "Nearly all of these projects have broad benefits to fish, wildlife and people,” stated Dr. Todd Merendino of Ducks Unlimited. “For example, even though the funding may restore coastal wetlands to benefit waterfowl, many species of other wildlife and fish benefit, flooding may be reduced, and water quality improved as it enters bays and estuaries. This is a great slate projects and a good start on restoration of the Gulf Coast of Texas." To read the entire statement, visit http://www.nwf.org/News-and-Magazines/Media-Center/News-by-Topic/Wildlife/2015/06-09-15-Latest-Round-of-Proposed-Gulf-Restoration-Projects-in-Texas-are-Right-on-the-Mark.aspx.
Free Seminars Offered on the Science of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
Do you need additional scientific information to strengthen your land conservation proposals? Sea Grant and the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative are hosting free seminars to share the latest oil spill science with conservation professionals, policymakers, and the general public. Consider attending these free seminars:
Navigating Shifting Sands: Oil on our Beaches
Wednesday, August 5th, Pensacola FL
Impacts of Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill to Gulf Wetlands
Tuesday, August 11, 2015, Slidell LA
For more information, visit www.gulfseagrant.org/oilspilloutreach/presentations.
NOAA Releases DIVER & Coastal Flood Exposure Mapper.
The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration has released new online tools to support resilience activities for the Gulf of Mexico. The Coastal Flood Exposure Mapper tool supports users undertaking a community-based approach to assessing coastal hazard risks and vulnerabilities by providing maps that show people, places, and natural resources exposed to coastal flooding. Check out the Mapper here http://coast.noaa.gov/digitalcoast/tools/flood-exposure.
DIVER allows users to search the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill Natural Damage Resource Assessment (NRDA) data. It also includes pre-2010 historical contaminant chemistry data for the onshore area of the Gulf of Mexico. This is a nice companion for the Gulf of Mexico Alliance's DWH Project Tracker. Try out the DIVER tool here: https://dwhdiver.orr.noaa.gov/.
Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust Seeks Executive Director.
The Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust is an accredited land trust located in Seguin, TX. The Executive Director will work closely with the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority and will have responsibility for managing a variety of land and water conservation projects and the daily operations of the organization. For more information, visit http://www.texaslandtrustcouncil.org/index.php/more-info/job-openings.
Land Trust Alliance to Offer FREE Coaching Sessions for All-Volunteer Land Trusts.
The Alliance is offering FREE coaching sessions to Alliance members that operate as all-volunteer land trust boards (defined as those either without staff or with a part-time staff member). This service is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Land trust expert Donna Erickson will provide advice about board development, fundraising, monitoring easements, and other topics. To register for a coaching session, contact Donna directly to schedule a time and to define the topic(s) your land trust wants to discuss (firstname.lastname@example.org or 406-370-0454).
Gulf Partnership Invites Project Assistance Fund Proposals in support of Due Diligence Costs
Partner organizations are eligible for matching funds through the Gulf Partnership’s Project Assistance Fund. These funds can cover costs such as appraisals and reviews, surveys, title and legal work, and environmental assessments for land acquisition and easement projects. To date, 16 proposals have been approved and more than 25,000 acres will be protected. The Fund is being administered by the Galveston Bay Foundation through a generous grant from the Knobloch Family Foundation. For more information, contact Matthew Singer at email@example.com or 281-332-3381 ext. 206.
Visit our new website: www.gulfpartnership.org. The Partnership for Gulf Coast Land Conservation is organized under the auspices of the Land Trust Alliance which provides administrative and fiscal support. The mission of the Gulf Partnership is to work together across the five Gulf of Mexico states to increase the pace, quality and permanence of voluntary land and water conservation in the coastal region. For more information regarding any item in this newsletter, contact Julia Weaver, Partnership Co-Coordinator at 228-219-2279 or firstname.lastname@example.org.