Tuesday, May 20, 2014

CNHP wins the 2014 Collaboration Award at the Biodiversity Without Boundaries Conference

This year’s Biodiversity Without Boundaries Conference was held in New Orleans April 6-10, and eight of our staff were able to attend this time, giving a wide range of presentations on our work while building connections with other members of the NatureServe Network. There were many highlights from this conference - it is always a place where we form new friendships and renew old ones, and become energized by learning about all the amazing things happening throughout the Network. Three of our staff also completed training in Leadership (Jeremy Sueltenfuss and Rob Schorr) and Natural Heritage Methodology (Bernadette Kuhn).

One of the most exciting highlights this year was receiving the Collaboration Award. This award is given to one program each year, who is selected based on nominations from other programs around the Network of 82 programs in Canada, the US, and Latin America, as well as NatureServe. CNHP was nominated for our collaborations with other programs and innovative partnerships for conservation. These contributions include our role with the US Section Council, our participation in the NatureServe Leadership Program, our lead role in crafting the NatureServe Network statement of shared goals and values, and our partnership with Odell Brewing Company to conserve the Hops Blue butterfly. Sabra Tonn, Program Supervisor for the Arizona Heritage Data Management System, was able to get ahold of a few of the last bottles of Celastrina, which Mary Klein, President and CEO of NatureServe, gave to each of the winners of the awards this year! So we enjoyed getting to taste this beer with others around the Network during the award ceremony.

Mary Klein, President and CEO of NatureServe, announcing the award winners at
Biodiversity Without Boundaries, sweetening the pot with
bottles of Celastrina for the award recipients. 

The other winners of awards this year were the New York Natural Heritage Program (Conservation Impact), and Michigan Natural Features Inventory (Scientific and Technological Achievement).

David Anderson, Director of CNHP (Collaboration Award),
DJ Evans, Director of the New York NHP (Conservation Impact Award),
and Brian Klatt, Director of the Michigan Natural Features Inventory
(Scientific and Technological Achievement Award).
We did not all plan to wear blue shirts!

It is such a huge honor to be recognized by our peers for our collaborations and partnerships. Because this award is based on cooperation, we really feel that it is as much a testament to our own collaborations as it is to those of the other members of the NatureServe Network, who have embraced so many challenges and opportunities with us in recent years. Being part of a network that is so deeply committed to the grand collective effort we make to conserve biodiversity is something that gives all of us a reason to go home from work feeling good about what we did each day! And we feel very fortunate to be able to draw so much inspiration from the NatureServe Network, and the partners that we work to assist every day.

Left to right: Bernadette Kuhn, Renee Rondeau, Jeremy Sueltenfuss, Susan Panjabi,
Rob Schorr, Jill Handwerk, Michael Menefee, David Anderson, Anibal Ramirez Soto
(Pronatura Veracruz, Mexico), and Mary Klein (President and CEO, NatureServe).

Check out the NatureServe press release about our award here!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Mapping Gopher Tortoise Burrows in Louisiana

By Bernadette Kuhn, CNHP Botanist

I recently had a chance to attend a NatureServe Core Methodology training just north of New Orleans, Louisiana. Keri Landry, a wildlife biologist from the Louisiana Natural Heritage Program, and Whitney Weber from NatureServe instructed our group on how to map element occurrences for animals. The training was held north of Covington, Louisiana in a longleaf pine forest that provides habitat for the gopher tortoise. Once a widely distributed in the southeastern U.S., this species is now listed as Threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Gopher tortoise populations have declined throughout the southeast due to the loss of longleaf pine forests, disease, hunting, and forestry practices.

Our training group spent the morning mapping gopher tortoise burrows. Keri extended a tiny camera on a flexible hose down inside two of the burrows. The camera projected an image onto a small field laptop screen, and we were able to see two gopher tortoises hunkered down in their burrows.

Keri has a tortoise-in-tow that she uses for public outreach and education. She let our group spend a few minutes admiring him up close. We were also fortunate to see the state’s southernmost documented population of Orobanche uniflora, oneflowered broomrape. This plant species, although somewhat common in Colorado, is rare in the southeast and is tracked by the Lousiana Natural Heritage Program as a G5 S1. The botanists in the group gleefully helped the LNHP staff map new populations of the delicate, parasitic plant. We were all excited to learn new ways to collect field data for element occurrences through a hands-on session in a beautiful and diverse ecosystem. Thanks to the NatureServe staff, Keri, and Amy Jenkins (Florida Natural Heritage Program) for a great training day!