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Tuesday, January 26 • 10:00am - 10:20am
Mississippi Basin / Gulf Hypoxia Initiative: Seven Lccs Meet Large-Scale Agricultural Conservation Challenges From Grassland Birds and Pallid Sturgeon To Gulf Coast Shrimp

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AUTHORS: Michael Schwartz, The Conservation Fund; Gwen White*, Glen Salmon, Eastern Tallgrass Prairie & Big Rivers LCC; Robert Clevenstine, US Fish & Wildlife Service; Greg Wathen, Gulf Coast Plains & Ozarks LCC; Bill Bartush, Gulf Coast Prairie LCC; Nicole Athearn, Great Plains LCC; Richard Nelson, Plains & Prairie Potholes LCC; John Rogner, Upper Midwest & Great Lakes LCC; Jean Brennan, Appalachian LCC

ABSTRACT: According to water quality model assessments, Midwestern states within the upper Mississippi River watershed currently contribute the greatest nutrient load to the Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone. The conservation community needs optimization tools that prioritize the design and configuration of actions that appeal to upstream agricultural communities under a range of climate extremes. The Mississippi River Basin/Gulf Hypoxia Initiative, spearheaded by seven Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, is undertaking a strategic and transparent process to create an integrated framework that supports planning, design, configuration and delivery of water quality enhancement and wildlife conservation practices within targeted locations across the watershed. Work Teams of researchers and managers across the LCCs have identified and described the design/policy considerations for 14 highly effective conservation practices that protect and enhance wildlife habitat while complementing ongoing efforts that reduce nutrient loads to the Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone and benefit agricultural production through ecosystem services (“what to do”). The Conservation Fund is developing datasets and decision support tools to be utilized as part of the Conservation Blueprint 1.0 to map, evaluate, and select the most strategic and cost effective places to implement these actions (“where to do it”). Future scenario planning for landscape change could provide climate forecast and adaptation strategies over a range of time scales in response to ecological or economic drivers. The Initiative plans to use this framework to address collaborative needs that will enhance organizational capacity, avoid duplication of effort, streamline prioritization, and align the work of agencies and organizations across multiple scales. This effort is intended to be complementary to related on-going efforts, like the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force, Mississippi River Basin Initiative, and state nutrient reduction initiatives, but with an added emphasis on the ecological and social values of wildlife habitat.

Tuesday January 26, 2016 10:00am - 10:20am EST
Ambassador W