Innovations in large landscape conservation at White House conference

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

For Immediate Release
Contact: Anthony Flint 617-503-2116

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (April 14, 2010) – A group of non-profit leaders will highlight a new, ground-up, collaborative approach for the conservation of large landscapes – ecosystems, watersheds and wildlife corridors that involve multiple jurisdictions and land ownership -- at the White House Conference on America’s Great Outdoors Friday April 16, 2010 in Washington D.C.

The conference, centered on the challenges, opportunities and innovations surrounding modern-day land conservation and the importance of reconnecting Americans to parks, forests, and working landscapes, will be led by Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, and Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture.

The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Policy at the University of Montana, The Nature Conservancy, the Sonoran Institute, and the Program on Conservation Innovation at Harvard University are promoting strategies for protecting, managing and funding large landscapes across state and in some cases international boundaries, in community-based collaborations of private landowners, local and regional non-profit organizations, and governmental agencies. Representatives from these organizations have been meeting with senior administration officials in the Interior and Agriculture departments to highlight these “outside the beltway” innovations.

“A century ago, Teddy Roosevelt held a White House conference that built on our great national parks system. We are now in a new era,” said Armando Carbonell, senior fellow and chairman of the Department of Planning and Urban Form at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. “Today we recognize that large landscapes don’t fit neatly inside park or forest boundaries -- they spread across states and even nations, and involve multiple agencies and stakeholders. A fresh approach for management and funding reflects the wisdom of grassroots regional collaboration.”

At the conference, Carbonell, chairman of the Department of Planning and Urban Form at the Lincoln Institute, will cite a leading example of the new approach in land conservation: 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 from western Montana spanning 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 roundtable is an ongoing forum that connects individual initiatives across an international boundary.

Other examples, which will soon be featured in a Lincoln Institute Policy Focus Report, 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.

These individuals are available for interviews on innovations in land conservation:

Armando Carbonell, senior fellow, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Matthew McKinnney, executive director, Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Policy at the University of Montana, and author, Working Across Boundaries, a guide to regional collaboration with accompanying Web site

Robert Bendick, director of governmental relations, The Nature Conservancy

Luther Propst, executive director, the Sonoran Institute

James Levitt, director, Program on Conservation Innovation at Harvard University, and author, Conservation Capital in the Americas and From Walden to Wall Street, both detailing innovations in conservation finance.

The White House conference will be a listening exercise; the Obama administration has solicited ideas for the conservation and management of future open spaces to build on the system of national parks, national forests, and other public lands.

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. In the forthcoming Policy Focus Report, the Lincoln Institute will offer a strategic framework to foster large landscape conservation as one of the most effective ways to address issues related to climate change, biodiversity protection, water management, and land use. Within this strategic framework, the federal government would partner with state and local government, tribes, business, community, and conservation interests to support "bottom-up” approaches to large landscape conservation, while meeting national conservation priorities.

Another key component is a menu of options on how to fund large landscape conservation, to integrate existing federal funding programs to catalyze, enable, and sustain large landscape conservation initiatives. The recommendations build on the Lincoln Institute’s longstanding commitment to develop innovative conservation finance strategies.

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.

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