The Bureau of Land Management hosted the 2014 Seed Conference this week, to celebrate 20 years of public-private partnerships for native plant conservation. The Conference brings together 12 federal agencies to renew a Memorandum of Understanding that continues the work of the Federal Native Plant Conservation Committee of the Plant Conservation Alliance and its cooperators in State government, including the Western Governors’ Association, and non-government organizations. The PCA is a public-private partnership of governments and non-government organizations that share the same goal of protecting native plants by ensuring that native plant populations and their communities are maintained, enhanced and restored.
“Every year America suffers significant losses of its native plants and wildlife due to fire, drought, flood and other natural disaster damage,” BLM Director Neil Kornze said. “The MOU we are signing today calls attention to our need as Federal agencies to adapt to changing realities and to work together to restore affected landscapes for the people, communities and economies that depend on them.”
At the Conference, attendees evaluated the state of current knowledge about native seeds and plant restoration, and also discussed the tools needed to work collaboratively to sustain healthy, resilient landscapes that provide a full range of ecosystem services, and are capable of adapting to climate change.
The MOU commits Federal agencies to bolster the collective capacity of the PCA Committee to leverage funds and tools through efforts with non-federal partners. The MOU calls for Federal agencies to assist non-Federal land managers in plant conservation and protection efforts. It also calls for innovative partnerships among public and private sectors, nationally and internationally, to conserve native plants and their habitats before they become critically endangered.
“Western Governors have been concerned for some time that the lack of clarity, consistency and coordination within and among federal agencies on reseeding policy has delayed timely and important restoration work after extreme events like wildfires, floods and drought,” Western Governors’ Association Executive Director Jim Ogsbury said. “WGA regards the 2014 Seeds Conference as an opportunity to clarify and improve federal seeding and reseeding policy. Success in this endeavor should lead to effective on-the-ground efforts to control erosion, restore important habitat, and prevent invasive species from acquiring a toehold in western lands.”
“This is an extraordinary union of such a diverse group of federal and non-federal partners,” said Healy Hamilton, chief scientist of NatureServe, a conservation non-profit that delivers the science behind effective conservation. “This partnership speaks to the importance of what we’ve presented here today: that so many people’s economic and ecological interests align when it comes to creating resilient native plants communities.”
Under the MOU, the Committee agrees to identify and recommend, as appropriate, priority conservation needs for native plants and their habitats and coordinate implementation of programs for addressing those needs.
The Committee Members include the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, Federal Highway Administration, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, United States Botanic Garden, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service, USDA Forest Service, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Geological Survey.