Weekly update 65

Post date: Oct 2, 2015 3:12:34 PM

This week I attended the Healing Our Waters conference in Chicago. Much like TNC's All Science Meeting, this conference had a lot of practitioner oriented presentations, which is an interesting change from the typical academic conference. Presentations tend to be case-study focused and rarely have a head in the clouds message. Unlike the All Science Meeting, HOW brings together tens of regional practitioner organizations ranging from watershed level land trusts up to regional or larger multi-purpose organizations. As a result, the attendees ranged from jeans and wrinkled button-up (me) types up to the three-piece suit organization heads, and the way each person thinks and acts along that spectrum is marked and interesting.

My favorite session was about systematic conservation planning in Saginaw Bay (Wednesday late morning session). It stood out for two reasons. First, rarely if ever have I seen such comprehensive planning in an applied setting. The group integrated preference surveys, biological data, hydrology modeling, and site selection to come up with priority watersheds feeding into Saginaw Bay. They had nearly every piece of the puzzle at least partially addressed, and I was impressed. Second, the group was totally focused on Saginaw Bay, when their methods and potential for a broader effect were obvious. They traded off practicality (do something well at a smaller scale) for breadth. We academics in conservation planning are often encouraged to look further and state how our little case study will affect the whole world and, sometimes, that prevents us from getting anything done.