Developing Strategies to Address Vulnerabilities, Emily Preston, June 2013


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Developing Strategies to Address Vulnerabilities: NH Partnerships broaden possibilities Emily Preston, June 2013

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  • Like many states, we did a vulnerability assessment. Ours was done by habitat in an expert opinion format. We also used the results of species vulnerability assessments done by Maine and Massachusetts. The next question was – How do we help mitigate for these vulnerabilities? NH is a partnership state. We do almost everything in partnerships, which is very productive and also fun. Because if this, our wildlife action plan is used by many organizations – state agencies, planners, NGOS and others. So it made sense to invite them all to help .
  • I’m going to give you a brief overview of how we approached this. There were four steps, with varying levels of effort to accomplish each. The steps are identifying partners, bringing them together to generate ideas, organizing the ideas into a useful format and sending the results out for review. We have a standing Wildlife Action Plan Implementation team, made of biologists from NHFG and from partners such as Natural Heritage, NH Audubon, The Nature Conservancy and NRCS. This group helped determine how we would pull together a climate adaptation plan.
  • First, we wanted to broaden the list of partners that we brought in. We knew from our vulnerability assessments that many actions that human might take to mitigate or adapt to climate change could have an effect on wildlife and habitats. So we invited a broad range of partners, from the Dept. of transportation to stormwater management policy makers. We pulled in scientists, including those who helped with the vulnerability assessments, planners, decision makers, educators and of course conservation organizations. One key new partner is emergency management planners – those who do hazard mitigation plans for towns, and they are involved in climate related hazard mitigation.
  • We brought together groups of these partners at 4 meetings, scattered around the state. Each meeting was 3 hours in length. We invited them to review the vulnerability assessments online prior to the meeting. At each we started by introducing the main vulnerabilities that applied to many habitats, and handed out a compilation of the key vulnerabilities for each habitat for reference. We broke into work groups of about 10. We had them brainstorm about one major habitat grouping at a time – forests, freshwater or coastal. Once they were done one group, we gave them a break then headed into the second. Coastal was done only once, at a meeting in the coastal area. Some recent research has shown that we generate more out-of-the box ideas if we are allowed to brainstorm by ourselves for a time. So we handed out a stack of large sticky notes to each person and had them write their ideas down. This also insured that we got their whole idea, not just notes from a poster sheet. We let them write for 10 minutes or so, using one sticky note per idea.
  • On the wall were large poster sheets with headings for each individual habitat at the top. Participants would put their sticky notes up under the habitat that it fit. We soon found that many ideas fit multiple habitats, or even the whole group, so we often added a “overarching” sheet. For those of you like me who worry about too much paper being used, you need the large poster sheets to get the sticky notes back to your office in an orderly fashion.
  • The group was invited to read others’ ideas and move the sticky notes to group ideas that were similar. They could continue to add ideas as they thought of them. This movement generated quite a bit of discussion, and a few new ideas.
  • We did use a standard ants let us know which priorities they considered the most important. We used this information in the document, but really found that there were similarities between groups that made the priorities obvious.
  • The last thing was to give them larger sticky dots and have them write the name of the organization they represented and put those dots on strategies they thought that they might be interested in assisting us on. I assured them that this was just for ideas, and that we would not hold them to anything. But it did create a lot of buy in by potential partners and we’ve already used that in implementing the plan.
  • This pile has almost a thousand ideas. There are repeats and the ridiculous. But many, many thoughtful ideas. Since the work groups did some lumping of ideas, that helped. But I recommend either a secretary or voice recognition software!
  • Organizing all these ideas took a lot of time. This is where the WAP Implementation Team was really valuable. This group really understands the wildlife action plan, and has worked a lot with it. First we had to cull them down to those that really were climate focused. Then we had to figure out how to organize them so they were useful. We started with the habitat groups of forests, freshwater habitats and coastal that we collected them under. But there were too many that crossed those boundaries. We then tried the categories that we used for our wildlife action plan. These did not fit well either for a variety of reasons. Interestingly, like our original strategies, the climate ones ranged from very specific to very broad. We decided that that was OK. We briefly discussed partners – assigning strategies based on what type of partner we thought would be best to lead the strategy, and other categories before coming up with distinct functional groups which seemed to make the most sense. It definitely was an evolutionary process, and was not easy to do. Here is what we came up with.
  • These first four address a number of freshwater and coastal issues. Under stormwater and floods, one strategy is to Develop strategies and decision trees to deal with infrastructure that will be impaired or destroyed by sea level rise and increased storm surge. Tools could include abandonment, insurance increases, altering culvert sizes, incentive and the like. Some of the strategies are ones that we already have in our plan, such as wetland buffers, but there is more emphasis and more detail.
  • These three fit our more traditional activities, but highlight differences between now and the future under a changing climate. But to address climate change more directly, one strategy is to Protect land adjacent to certain habitats to allow for migration of those habitats (e.g. salt marsh).
  • These two involve two different sets of decision makers. Comprehensive planning includes both regional and municipal. A major thrust is to Require the incorporation of ecological services provided by wildlife habitat into all types of planning. State energy policy is a more diverse group of state agencies with federal agencies, NGOs and power providers all taking part.
  • These last three involve all types of habitats. I expect all of you have the last two in your wildlife action plans. A big goal of monitoring is to have more types of monitoring occurring simultaneously at certain sites.
  • We stressed that the ultimate goal is intact natural ecosystems, whatever they might look like in the future. It requires everyone to work together and requires a great deal of communication. I said at the beginning that partnerships were critical to the success of these endeavors. Writing a plan is only the beginning. Now the important work can begin. In fact, I have started working with the NH Dept of Environmental Services to get some of our strategies into their planning processes, despite the fact that our plan had not yet been approved by our director.
  • Developing Strategies to Address Vulnerabilities, Emily Preston, June 2013

    1. 1. Developing Strategies to Address Vulnerabilities: NH Partnerships Broaden Possibilities Emily Preston WAP Coordinator
    2. 2. Steps to Success 1. Identify partners 2. Meet to brainstorm and discuss 3. Organize and consolidate 4. Review by partners
    3. 3. Bring Together Partners • Stormwater and Dams • Energy • Transportation • Emergency Management • Planners • Municipal • Policy Makers • Educators • Land trusts and the other usual partners
    4. 4. Strategy Compilation Address vulnerabilities • Brainstorm silently for 10 minutes onto sticky notes
    5. 5. Strategy Compilation Address vulnerabilities • Brainstorm silently for 10 minutes onto sticky notes • Sort by habitat
    6. 6. Strategy Compilation Address vulnerabilities • Brainstorm silently for 10 minutes onto sticky notes • Sort by habitat • Group reorganizes notes to lump similar ideas
    7. 7. Strategy Compilation Address vulnerabilities • Brainstorm silently for 10 minutes onto sticky notes • Sort by habitat • Group reorganizes notes to lump similar ideas • Prioritize
    8. 8. Strategy Compilation Address vulnerabilities • Brainstorm silently for 10 minutes onto sticky notes • Sort by habitat • Group reorganizes notes to lump similar ideas • Prioritize • Identify strategies their organization could help with.
    9. 9. Results!
    10. 10. Organization • Dealing with overarching strategies • How to group: – Original WAP strategy groupings? – Habitat grouping? – By partner? – Threat? – Functional Group?
    11. 11. 1. Stormwater Policy and Flood Response 2. Restore Watershed Connectivity 3. Protect Riparian and Shoreland Buffers 4. Revise Water Withdrawal Policies Strategy Categories
    12. 12. 5. Invasive Species Plan 6. Conserve Areas for Habitat Expansion and/or Connectivity 7. Habitat Restoration and Management Strategy Categories
    13. 13. 8. Comprehensive Planning 9. State Energy Policy Strategy Categories
    14. 14. 10. Funding 11. Modeling, Research and Monitoring 12. Technical Assistance and Outreach Strategy Categories
    15. 15. Goal: Intact natural ecosystems! Not necessarily those we have now – they will probably look different. • Intact ecosystems will help mitigate effects of climate change for humans and wildlife. • How can we help and how can we avoid making thing worse?
    16. 16. Join us in our year-long celebration!Join us in our year-long celebration! For event details, or to support the program,For event details, or to support the program, please visit visit Celebrating 25 years of protectingCelebrating 25 years of protecting endangered species and keepingendangered species and keeping common species commoncommon species common