The Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative recently awarded funds to support science and information needs focused on integrated landscape-scale conservation within the Great Northern Geographic area including the Rocky Mountains, interior Columbia Basin and associated sage-steppe arid lands.
The grants for research, totaling approximately $1.4 million, are the first to be allocated by the Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative. In addition to funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Mountain-Prairie Region, the agency's Pacific Region contributed $100,000, the U.S. Geological Survey's Rocky Mountain Science Center contributed $100,000 and the National Park Service contributed $70,000.
Landscape Conservation Cooperatives are part of the Department of the Interior's response to climate change and other environmental stressors on natural resources. LCCs employ strategic and collaborative approaches to landscape conservation. LCC partnerships include federal, state and local agencies, as well as tribes and non-governmental organizations.
The goal of LCCs is to add value to large landscape conservation efforts and to build and maintain resilience in natural resources through science support, coordination, information, monitoring and evaluation and outreach and education.
"LCCs are going to provide enhanced scientific information to conservation partners for more effective and efficient resource management planning and design. This information, applied strategically through key conservation actions, is critical to building resilience into natural resources in the face of landscape stressors. From sportsmen to naturalists, those who love and use the great outdoors can see the landscape changing. Only by working together across all boundaries, can we ensure intact landscapes, viable wildlife populations and resource conservation into the future," said Stephen Guertin, regional director, Mountain-Prairie Region.
The Great Northern LCC focused Fiscal Year 2010 funding on three priority information needs: data sharing and integration; habitat connectivity; and water resource vulnerability. A few of these funded projects are:
-- GNLCC Multi-dimensional Synthesis -- This project will provide a synthesis of ongoing landscape information, monitoring activity, and specific regional summaries of climate and ecological response. This synthesis will enhance decision-support systems and science applications to ensure we focus resource conservation where needed and track or evaluate management actions.
-- Support to State Directed Decision Support System Pilot Projects sponsored by Western Governors Association -- Funding was allocated to support the states of Idaho, Montana, Washington and Wyoming for their work on pilot integrated decision-support systems that will establish a useful and consistent source of mapped biological information that decision makers and the public can use to understand crucial habitats and wildlife corridors particularly as they evaluate proposed energy, land-use, transportation development and other landscape impacts.
-- Document Fine Scale Linkage Areas and Conservation Delivery in the Northern Rockies of US and Canada -- This project is an initiative to identify landscape-scale movement opportunities for multiple wildlife species in the Rocky Mountains of Montana and Idaho and adjacent transboundary areas of British Columbia and Alberta. Wildlife movement is necessary as wildlife populations move across the Northern Rockies landscape in response to changes in distribution and abundance of habitats and key foods.
-- The Washington Connected Landscapes Project: Supporting Connectivity Conservation Now and Under Future Climates -- The project will conduct comprehensive habitat connectivity analyses for Washington, including lands in adjacent states and provinces and develop and release innovative methods and GIS tools to support land managers' efforts to plan for connectivity.
-- SageSTEP Long-term Ecological Monitoring Network -- This monitoring network follows changes in sagebrush habitat with land-use, climate and management response and will benefit management agencies by focusing regional conservation and land management options in regions likely to sustain sagebrush ecosystems and the wildlife that depend on them.
Predicting Effects of Climate Change on Aquatic Ecosystems in the Great Northern Landscape: Combining Vulnerability Assessments, Landscape Genomics, and Modeling for Conservation -- This pilot watershed-scaled, water resource vulnerability project in the transboundary Flathead River system assesses hydrologic,, geomorphic and thermal changes from landscape impacts on foodwebs, particularly native salmonids (threatened bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout), and lotic habitats in the transboundary Flathead River system. The project will apply new and existing techniques for combining downscaled climate spatial data with fine-scale aquatic species vulnerability assessments, population genetic data to understand salmonid population response, and remotely sensed riparian and aquatic habitat change.
-- Forecasting the impacts of climate change in the Columbia River Basin: Threats to fish habitat connectivity - This project will use and extend existing data and infrastructure to develop spatially-explicit bioenergetics models to assess effects of climate change on the viability of resident salmonid populations using models being developed in the Methow River Basin.
The results of these key science and information research projects will be networked for a regional understanding of landscape impacts. Through these projects, the Great Northern LCC is supporting critical science and information gaps that, when filled, will be strategically applied to help inform landscape conservation within various government, private and public land management efforts.
For more information on the GNLCC, including a full list of funded projects and proposals, go to http://www.nrmsc.usgs.gov/gnlcc