August 15, 2001

Meeting Notes

Opening Remarks-Nick DiPasquale

Nick gave compliments to the members of the committee and teams for their efforts in developing the framework for the Biodiversity Conservation Partnership. 

Publication Update:Our Natural Legacy: Delaware's Biodiversity Conservation Partnership-Nick DiPasquale.

The publication was presented to the Executive Committee on July 20, 2001.  Overall the committee gave supportive comments on the mission and objectives and the overall look and layout of the publication.  The Executive Committee did ask that consideration be given to a cost and benefit analysis of the priority actions before they are undertaken.  Nick asked that the Implementation teams review the benefits of implementation and balance and prioritize them with the associated costs.  The tentative endorsement of the executive committee pending final approval from the Governors office reads as follows:

The Executive Committee endorses the objectives of the report Our Natural Legacy: Delaware's Biodiversity Conservation Partnership and gives approval for the steering committee to move forward with developing specific implementation strategies for priority actions.  In preparing these implementation strategies for review and approval of the Executive Committee, the steering committee should include identification, prioritization and weighing of the associated costs and benefits.  

Plan for distribution of the document:

2000 full color copies of the final document will be delivered on August 22, 2001.  These will be distributed to all members of the former BISWG, the Executive Committee, steering committee and implementation teams.  Copies will be sent to all symposium participants, the biodiversity mailing list, and many elected officials.  Bulk copies will be available to any organization involved in the process to distribute to stakeholders.  Please contact Tina Bernat for copies.  The above Executive Committee endorsement statement will be incorporated into the cover letter to be mailed with the document.

Status of Phase I Action Items: 

A list of the Phase I priority actions with the current status was discussed.  Phase I actions are those to be undertaken within the next six months. 

It was stated that the action to provide the Counties with the best available information by July 1, 2001 was completed.  Nick sent a letter to the counties requesting that biodiversity issues be addressed in their comprehensive plan updates along with draft maps outlining state resource and natural areas.

In addition, legislation has been drafted (sent with agenda) to identify mechanisms to protect isolated or critical freshwater wetlands.

Implementation team reports:

            Science team-Karen Bennett

            The science implementation team will meet August 29, 2001.  Membership was extended to all former members of the BISWG science sub-group.  There has been a good response from the members.  The meeting will be used to establish action plans for each of the priority actions outlined in the science initiative.  A workshop to facilitate the biodiversity assessment has been tentatively set for October/November.  The group is on target for updating the maps for the counties by July 1, 2002.  Funding requests and possible sources for funding will also be discussed at this meeting.

            Resource management- Lori Denno

Lori stated that this initiative is very large including those actions requiring state leadership and those that would benefit from private leadership.  Lori and Andy Manus agreed to split the responsibilities of this implementation team. Lori will take the lead on priority actions #3, 4, 10, 11, and 12, focusing on the Open Space/Agricultural Lands funding and isolated wetland legislation this year.  While Andy will take the lead on the remaining priority actions requiring state policy changes and incentive programs.  Both agreed to use a more informal and focused approach, drawing in stakeholders to achieve specific actions.  Exploration of funding requirements and opportunities is on going.

Discussion then focused on Incentive Programs (priority action #2). Nick stated that some assessment of incentives on the federal level needs to be explored.  Mike McGrath and Bob Zimmerman pointed out a report from NGA that may be helpful.  Delaware Farmers should be able to get behind farm bill support.  Education is an important issue here.  It was suggested that a small working group be established to provide an assessment of both the federal and the state incentive programs and make some decisions on which incentive program priority action to attempt for this legislative year.  Mike McGrath agreed to work with Andy Manus on this issue.

            Education/Outreach-David Small

Tina Bernat will work as a co-chair with a person from DNREC's Information and education office (Maria Taylor or Nancy Rolli).  David mentioned that informal education and outreach efforts are currently underway including articles in Outdoor Delaware, the Natural Legacy document and programs with the Delaware Nature Society.  Membership on the Education and Outreach team should include the University of Delaware, Dept of Agriculture. DNREC, Dept of Education, DNS etc….  David discussed the need for a unified message to be developed.  He also cautioned that this message must meet the needs of the teachers in the schools to fulfill their standards.  It will be a challenge to get the message to students in Delaware, therefore partnership with the Department of Education is essential.  Bob Zimmerman suggested that materials be developed to support the legislative actions being undertaken to help with the decision maker education efforts.

            Land Use Planning- Herb Inden(not available for meeting)

The Land Use Planning Implementation team is working closely with the Livable Delaware Initiative. Tina Bernat will contact Herb for a more detailed description of activities and plans.

Use of focus groups:

Discussion followed on the use of symposium volunteers for the next phase of action.  A list was developed of those participants willing to participate in future activities (list attached).  It was suggested that an outside agency or facilitator lead these discussions.  Lorene Athley volunteered to help identify facilitators.  Nick suggested the use of focus group for specific targeted issues.  Maria Taylor thought the use of a survey might be beneficial to the group to find out what the public wants and know about biodiversity.  There is a need to find out what people value about biodiversity.  The answer to this may aid the education/outreach team in developing a message.  Lorraine suggested that each person who volunteered to participate in the focus groups be contacted in some way.

Communication support:

A web site is being developed to contain information and resources on the Biodiversity Conservation Partnership.  The web-site will contain the full Legacy report and resource materials.  It will also contain a page for the Executive committee and steering committee.  These pages will include a membership list, duties and responsibilities, agenda and meeting dates and meeting notes.  In addition each implementation team will have the opportunity to post their membership information, goals and objectives, meeting dates, agendas, notes and accomplishments.  This web-site is scheduled to be on line in early September.  E-mail lists have also been set up in the state e-mail system to aid committee and team members with communication.

Financial support/needs assessment:

Sarah brought up the concern of costs for the implementation of the actions outlined in the document.  In light of recent budget cuts, will any funds be available for implementation?  Karen suggests that chairs of the teams need to do an analysis of actions and identify what money may be needed for which tasks.  Bob Z. suggested that each chair submit their analysis, including costs and identification of possible funding sources to the steering committee for review.  It was suggested to include all agencies and organizations that might be able to assist in funding.  Mike McGrath suggested that in many cases a re-prioritization of tasks might facilitate the resources to move forward with implementation.  The teams should prepare this analysis by September 4, 2001 to submit to the steering committee for review.

FY2002 Legislative Package (see attached list):

The group was asked to review the list of priority actions requiring legislation, and decide which actions they would hope to advance this year. 

1.      Land owner incentives: it was decided to pursue the Amendment of the Farmland Assessment act to allow lands managed for conservation purposes to be assessed using the same property tax scheme as lands managed for agriculture, horticulture or forestry purposes.  The Resource Management team should also conduct an assessment of all incentive programs both state and federal.  Mike McGrath and Andy manus will take the lead on the process.

2.       &3. Identify and secure a secure source of funding for Open space and the Agricultural Land Preservation program will also advance this year. Lori Denno will take the lead on these actions. 

5.      The isolated wetland draft legislation  is also on the agenda for this years legislative package (see draft legislation)

7         & 8. Discussions with Herb need to be done in order to decide on the Land use planning legislative actions of modifying the Quality of Life regulations and the LUPA.  Herb will give input on whether these issues might be addressed in the Livable Delaware Initiative or if the Biodiversity Partnership should move these forward.    

The remaining legislative actions will not be moved forward in this legislative package.

Next Meeting:

            November 14, 2001.  Location and time to be announced.



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