At the 2014 Northeast & Southeast Partners in Flight meeting in Virginia Beach, a group of partners from the Atlantic and Gulf coast began to develop a conservation business plan (CBP) for tidal marsh birds. Led by the researchers involved in the Saltmarsh Habitat Avian Research Program (SHARP), a draft plan was partially completed, which included a set of highest-priority species as conservation targets, including Saltmarsh Sparrow and Black Rail. After the ACJV adopted its strategic focus on saltmarsh birds, we led an effort to rejuvenate the business plan in hopes that the finished product could provide the basis for a new strategic plan for the ACJV. Partners from Maine to Texas met in September, 2016, at the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort, NC, for a three-day workshop to prioritize threats and identify strategies, which are at the core of a conservation business plan. We contracted with “Foundations of Success” (FOS) to facilitate our webinars and help organize and run our workshop. FOS is a non-profit organization involved in the “Conservation Measures Partnership” which has sought better ways to design, manage, and measure the impacts of conservation actions. From fall of 2016 until May of 2017, uncertainty around the federal budget stalled our momentum on the business plan. However, starting last June, with support from the USFWS Northeast Region Migratory Bird Program, along with additional funds from the National Wildlife Refuge Inventory & Monitoring Program, and Partners and Coastal Program, we were able to renew our contract with FOS and continue the business planning. Through weekly webinars throughout most of the summer, partners have now completed most of the “results chains” (flow charts or logic models that explicitly link strategies, indicators, activities, and outcomes towards objectives) at the heart of the CBP.
We want the CBP to reflect the input, ideas, and priorities of partners across the ACJV, and reflect differences that exist in different geographic regions–New England, Chesapeake Bay, the Carolinas, Florida and the Gulf Coast. Stay tuned for your opportunity to provide feedback on the new business plan products for incorporation into the final plan (expected by summer, 2018). Thanks in advance for your input!