The internship was conducted at the Office of Habitat Conservation (OHC), Habitat Protection Division of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) housed in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The internship also dealt heavily with the Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) which is a cross line office program in NOAA. The CRCP was created through the Coral Reef Conservation act (CRCA). This act and others, such as the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (FWCA) and the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), are particularly relevant to the OHC as they all guide habitat conservation, protection and restoration. These acts also contribute to conservation of protected species and their critical habitat. The intended projects were to develop tools in order to assess conservation outcomes, track program success, and investigate opportunities for improvement. This was done through 4 main activities; 1) tracking CRCP management outcomes, 2) creating a StoryMap for the Puerto Rico Habitat Focus Areas (HFA), 3) drafting an agreement between NMFS and Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and, 4) determining overlapping priority areas for state and federal partnership. Through the activities, lessons were learned about a government headquarters office. One such lesson is that partnerships are important for efficiency and coordination. These partnerships are between governmental agencies (federal/state partnerships and federal/federal partnerships) and between federal and private partners (management and enforcement agencies). Another lesson is that information collected from CRCP funded projects can help inform management. Lessons learned from these projects were used in drafting a new strategic plan for the Program. Community involvement is also important to locate information gaps and can make a difference in the acceptance of management outcomes. Some suggestions to NOAA to help increase habitat conservation outcomes are to increase the amount of awareness of current projects through stakeholder and community meetings, presentations and strengthened relationships between the federal government and management and enforcement agencies. More socioeconomic surveys of the community can lead to increased support of conservation objectives as community members can highlight their awareness and priorities to political bodies. These surveys can also bring attention to information that is lacking in the community that can lead to gaps that need to be filled. Another suggestion is to create a database in order to combat high turnover rates. These databases can help resource managers see past management techniques and can implement adaptive management for increased sustainability in the future.
Schachter, Lili, "Management tracking and developing tools to enhance habitat conservation" (2017). Internship Reports (Restricted). 297.
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