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Rhode Island Natural History Survey » Conservation Stewardship Collaborative Frequently Asked Questions
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dgregg on 30 Jan 2008 02:28 pm

Conservation Stewardship Collaborative Frequently Asked Questions

WHAT IS THE MISSION OF THE CONSERVATION STEWARDSHIP COLLABORATIVE?

The Conservation Stewardship Collaborative (CSC) works to advance long-term protection and stewardship of terrestrial, aquatic, coastal, estuarine, and marine areas in Rhode Island that have been conserved by fee, easement, or other means.

 

The CSC works to achieve its mission by promoting its principles among its members, and others, and by advising the Rhode Island Foundation on distributions from the Conservation Stewardship Endowment Fund.

 

WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY STEWARDSHIP?

Stewardship is caring for the land that we have obtained to protect plants, animals, habitats, aesthetic and historic/cultural landscapes, water, and ecosystem services. Caring for the land means making sure the values that originally motivated us to conserve an area are not jeopardized by inappropriate activities, invasive organisms, lack of maintenance, legal threats, or changing priorities. Stewardship can mean keeping the stone walls in shape, the hiking trails open and clear, and the signage in good order. Stewardship can involve restoring degraded habitats or creating new ones such as meadows or early successional fields that certain wildlife species prefer.

WHAT IF WE DON’T STEWARD THE LAND?

Conserved lands serve the citizens of Rhode Island in many essential ways. They recharge our groundwater aquifers and cleanse the water entering our streams and rivers; they provide habitat for plants and animals; they are places where we can hike, fish, hunt, swim, paddle, birdwatch, or simply enjoy the solitude of the outdoors; and they contain areas that have special aesthetic, cultural or historic value to us. If we let invasive species take over, pathogens infect trees and shrubs, trees be illegally cut, trails grow over, or vandalism to occur, the areas we have worked so hard to protect will not retain the values or perform the services that originally attracted us to them.

WHAT ARE THE BIG PICTURE PRINCIPLES OF THE CSC?

 

  • Monitor and steward conservation areas to retain their long-term viability as places where fauna, flora, and ecosystem services are protected.
  • Monitor and steward conservation areas to retain the cultural and aesthetic characteristics that were the basis of their protected status.
  • Steward each protected property in a manner that is consistent with the larger, landscape-scale network of adjacent or nearby protected areas.
  • Foster cooperation, collaboration, and partnering among conservation organizations in order to effectively and efficiently steward our network of protected areas.
  • Protect conservation areas from legal and political threats to their protected status as well as ecological threats to their conservation values.
  • Disseminate broadly the decisions made, lessons learned, practices adopted, and knowledge acquired during CSC programs. Internet and web-based technologies will be used whenever possible to ensure broad and rapid dissemination of CSC knowledge.
  • Involve citizen volunteers and students in on-the-ground activities to ensure successful, sustainable stewardship.
  • Draw from and contribute to coordinated databases of information relevant to the stewardship of conservation areas. The CSC shall work to ensure that these data are maintained in secure and well-managed databases, and are available to the conservation community to support stewardship activities.
  • Be nimble and responsive to unanticipated threats (environmental, political, and legal) to conservation areas, but also capable of sustained focus on priority projects.

WHO ARE THE MEMBERS OF THE CSC?

The Conservation Stewardship Collaborative (CSC) is comprised of the organizations that own conservation areas or make significant contributions to the stewardship of conservation areas in Rhode Island.

The business of the CSC is done by an Advisory Committee which consists of one representative from each of the following organizations:

Audubon Society of Rhode Island
Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management

Rhode Island Chapter of The Nature Conservancy
Rhode Island Land Trust Council
Rhode Island Natural History Survey
United States Fish and Wildlife Service
University of Rhode Island Department of Natural Resources Science

IS THE CSC A NEW ORGANIZATION?

Not at all! It is a coalition of conservation organizations who want to make sure their work complements each other and that there is clear communication among them. The CSC is about efficiency through collaboration and teamwork.

HOW DOES THE CSC WORK AND WHAT KIND OF PROJECTS WILL IT UNDERTAKE?

The Advisory Committee (AC) meets and identifies high priority short-term (the year) and long-term (multi-year) CSC initiatives that will constitute the annual work plan. The proposed initiatives will meet the Principles of the CSC and may span a range of topics and themes.

The CSC is especially interested in supporting the implementation of approaches to stewardship and monitoring that have potential for replication and expansion by other organizations. Examples of priority activities for the CSC to support with funding include, but are not limited to, projects that:

· Develop cost effective approaches to monitor for ecosystem pests, pathogens, and invasive species, and respond to the presence of pest organisms in a rapid and effective manner.

· Create stewardship practices that ensure the long term viability of rare, threatened, or endangered plants, animals, and natural communities.

· Create stewardship practices that ensure the long term viability of ecosystem services.

· Train, coordinate, and facilitate local stewards in the best methods of conservation land monitoring and stewardship.

· Develop and disseminate information on best practices of conservation stewardship.

· Develop, disseminate, receive, and store data on ecological information required for effective conservation stewardship.

· Develop and implement policies and practices that increase the long-term legal security of conservation areas.

· Develop measures and protocols that can be used to assess conservation progress and guide adaptive management of protected areas.

· Develop and disseminate reports and information on the status and trends of flora, fauna and ecosystems, opportunities for habitat restoration, and strategies and activities to mitigate threats to conservation areas.

· Provide training and technical support for the development of signage, trails, and interpretive materials to enhance public access and educational opportunities on conservation lands that are appropriate for and able to support such activities.

· Monitor state legislation, policies, and actions to prevent activities that would threaten conservation areas.

Once a work plan has been conceptually identified, a written description of the work to be done and a budget recommendation is prepared. The AC will reconvene to refine and ratify the written work plan. The Rhode Island Foundation (RIF) is then notified of the recommended work plan and fund allocations. The final distribution of funds will be determined by the RIF.

CAN I WRITE A PROPOSAL AND GET FUNDS FROM THE CSC?

No, the CSC is not a grant-giving organization at this time. We don’t have the capacity to support a grants program, but we are always looking for good ideas. Bring your stewardship ideas, or needs to the attention of one of the members of the Advisory Committee. They will bring it to the CSC. Your group can also participate by taking advantage of the Matching Challenge Grant program (below).

WHAT IS THE CONSERVATION STEWARDSHIP ENDOWMENT FUND?

The Conservation Stewardship Endowment is a fund managed by the Rhode Island Foundation for the purpose of supporting the state’s top priority stewardship needs. This fund was established in December 2007 with a gift from the Sharpe family and it is open to other donors with an interest in conservation. The CSC Endowment will provide an annual source of funding to address opportunities and mitigate threats to our state’s natural resources and conservation lands. The annual budget for the CSC that is derived from the Endowment will be made by the Rhode Island Foundation with advice from the CSC.

HOW DOES THE MATCHING CHALLENGE GRANT OPPORTUNITY WORK?

It is simple, for every gift over $1,000 that you make to the Conservation Stewardship Endowment Fund at the RI Foundation, the Challenge Match will make a gift for the same amount to any conservation organization you choose. The organization receiving the matching gift must use the funds to support their conservation stewardship programs in Rhode Island. The matching grant opportunity ends in 2010. Contact Kim Butler at the RI Foundation to see if your gift qualifies.

The matching grant program means that every dollar given to support conservation land stewardship will create two dollars of benefit in the state. This should excite donors because their gifts double in value. This should also excite conservation organizations; if you have a patron who is interested in supporting your stewardship work, now is the time to let them know of this great opportunity.

HOW DO I GET MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE CSC
Visit our web site at www.ricsc.org. All our information is there.

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