Temporal Investigations of Marsh Ecosystems in the Tijuana River Estuary
For the past two years the Center has been facilitating a major collaborative scientific effort in the Tijuana River Estuary, the largest coastal wetland in southern California. In June 2015, the project recently won the California Geographic Information Association’s Advancement in Collaboration Award, for its “outstanding application of Geographic Information System technology representing innovative, elegant, or creative techniques.” Located along the US-Mexico border, the Tijuana River Estuary is a key point along the Pacific Flyway and provides essential breeding, feeding, and nesting habitat for over 370 species of migratory and native birds, including six endangered species. The project combines ecosystem services with historical ecology, current monitoring, and future scenario planning with state-of-the-art visualization tools, to help resource managers and scientists make well-informed decisions about coastal wetland restoration plans and management in the estuary, and the Southern California Bight more generally. The project is part of the NOAA National Estuarine and Research Reserve System’s Science Collaborative effort, a competitive grant program that focuses on making the coast more resilient to natural and man-made changes, and includes community involvement in the design and implementation of projects.
Study area for the TIME project.
Throughout the project the Center has facilitated the work of the core team. Project partners include the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve, the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, the California Coastal Conservancy, and the San Francisco Estuary Institute. The Center has also facilitated interaction with focal audiences, namely the Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project’s five county Task Forces and overarching Wetlands Managers Group (WMG), which itself includes 5 federal and 13 state agencies. In addition to the work of the core team, major facilitated efforts have included a large-scale situation assessment; a series of Task Force stakeholder workshops and webinars; an intensive scenario planning workshop involving resource managers and university and professional scientists; and a technical advisory group for ecosystem services. The project has generated partnerships with ESRI (an international supplier of GIS software, web GIS, and geodatabase management applications), other projects like Climate Understanding and Resilience in the (Tijuana) River Valley (CURRV), and is also directly supporting the launch of the State Coastal Conservancy’s Regional Strategy Update for the Southern California Bight. The final decision-making framework will be completed in the summer of 2015.
Visual representation of the historical flow paths of the Tijuana River.
Long-Term Center Stakeholder featured on NPR’s All Things Considered
On June 10, 2015, National Public Radio’s All Things Considered ran a story on the one of the Center’s long-term stakeholders: the Honorable Ron Goode, Chairman of the North Fork Mono Tribe. The story’s title is “Californians Look to Sierra Nevada Native Americans for Drought Solutions,” and you can listen to the story — including Ron talking and singing — here.
The piece focused on his efforts to restore meadows in the Sierra Nevada mountains through a combination of selective tree clearing and cultural burning. The Center first started working with Ron in 2007, as he and a group of Native American colleagues formed the first Tribal Communication Committee for the California Department of Water Resources’ California Water Plan Update 2009. Ron and the team went on to author the Department’s first Tribal Communication Plan, and lead its first Tribal Water Summit. The event involved over 300 participants, including leaders and representatives from 66 California Native American Tribes, 15 tribal organizations, 13 state agencies, and 8 federal agencies. Ron continued on to become one of the founding members of newly created Tribal Advisory Committee for the California Water Plan Update 2013. During this time he helped write the Update’s Water and Culture resource management strategy, and collaboratively lead the second statewide summit in April 2013. The Center provided facilitation support for all these efforts.
Since 2010, Ron has also played a collaborative leadership role in the Sierra National Forest’s Dinkey Landscape Restoration Project, a 154,000-acre effort to restore vegetative conditions, meadows, fire regimes, and wildlife habitat in the southern Sierra Nevada. The project is part of the national Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program, which provides $10 million in funding over 10 years; the Center has facilitated the project since its inception. Over the past five years, Ron has patiently helped diverse stakeholders understand the importance of meadow restoration for the benefit of the entire ecology of the forest landscape, including native people and the cultural resources they continue to utilize. Building on Ron’s engagement, the group is now examining opportunities to expedite meadow restoration using Proposition 1, Water Bond (2014) funding from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Ron has noted that the drought has focused increased state, national, and international attention on his work. Ron is a good example of a long-term Center stakeholder who uses a collaborative skill set to work with a large, diverse network of stakeholders in multiple processes to improve public policy over time.
Ron Goode leading a field visit on the Dinkey Landscape, Sierra National Forest.
California Committee for the Employment of People with Disabilities
The Building the Pipeline Workgroup of the California Committee for the Employment of People with Disabilities held a meeting at CCP headquarters in August 2013. The Committee is establishing itself as the go-to organization for model policy and best practice development related to inclusion of people with disabilities in the work force. CCP worked closely with staff and Committee leadership to design and facilitate a multi-day strategic planning process and facilitated two work groups charged with implementing the group’s goals to increase employment rates for people with disabilities. CCP also developed the charter documents for the full Committee and two work groups, including a collaborative decision-making structure. Another key element of CCP’s assistance was to coach staff to develop their facilitation skills and build productive relationships with Committee members and key stakeholder groups across the state. CCP’s assistance ended in June 2013. The group now has an effective governance structure and tools to achieve its goal: to increase the rate of employment for people with disabilities to one closer to that of the general population.
Sierra Cascades Dialog
The Center designed and facilitated the tenth Sierra Cascades Dialog. This Dialog focused on a bioregional assessment for the Sierra Nevada. The United States Forest Service convened the Dialog to bring together people with diverse viewpoints to discuss and think about issues of importance in managing national forests and grasslands across the Sierra Nevada and Cascades mountain ranges. Approximately 130 people, representing a broad range of interests, have attended each Dialog near Sacramento and 10-25 people typically attend at the remote site in Bishop, California. Dialogs focus on issues that cut across the region and its outcomes influence the management strategies of the Pacific Southwest Region of the Forest Service. At this Dialog, facilitators used crowdbrite to record comments and had several weeks to post additional comments online.