Soil and Water Conservation Society. - Elton R. Smith Endowment

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Nov 8, 2013 (3 years and 7 months ago)

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SWCS
-
Dearborn Mi 2009

CEAP and Future of
Conservation Policy

Sandra S. Batie

Michigan State University

2

My assignment


To address as a Blue Ribbon Panel
Member: How can CEAP influence the
future of conservation policy?


Note: What follows are my comments,
not a statement of the Panel


Not a full review of CEAP to date

3

Outline


CEAP comes as an important time: Past is not
prologue


Environmental problems are daunting


Increase in knowledge


Appropriate land management is crucial


CEAP’s purpose


Vision of the Blue Ribbon Panel


Political Constraints


The Challenge


4

The Past is Not Prologue


Entering the epoch of sustainability


Pollution control/prevention is no longer
enough

5

The Past is Not Prologue


Sustainability is about balancing long
term societal and natural systems needs
through system design and
management.


Focus is on outcomes and performance


Holistic perspective


Goal prioritization

Challenge: turning knowledge into action

6

Sustainability and Wicked
Problems



Sustainability is about tackling wicked
problems


Those problems that are thrust upon policy
makers and scientists


Problems that cannot be translated into
normal disciplinary science


Requires restructuring human relations
with natural systems

7

Uncertain

Outcomes


Wicked Problems


eg. hypoxia


eg. Adaptive

Strategic

Resource

Management




Agreement

No Agreement

Goals

Certain

Outcomes


Tame Problems


eg. soil erosion


conservation practices


eg. on
-
farm conservation


management



8

Wicked Problem Management


Requires collaboration/discourse


Requires forming alternative visions of
how agriculture
should

manage agri
-
environmental resources (a societal
decision, not a decision of science)


Requires experimentation (adaptive
management)

9

The Conservation Effects
Assessment Project (CEAP)


Assist policymakers and program
managers implement existing and design
new conservation programs to meet the
goals of Congress and the Administration


Multi agency and multi resource effort

10

CEAP’s Purpose


Supply annual estimates of the
environmental effects of a conservation
program
-
specific practices


Answer the question: What did the
adoption of conservation practices
accomplish (e.g. reduction in nitrate
losses)?

11

Vision of the Blue Ribbon
Panel


CEAP should be a vehicle to provide the
information necessary to implement
Adaptive Strategic Resource
Management


Answer the question: What should we
do in the future?


Purpose should be science based
evaluation of options to improve future
conservation efforts

12

Adaptive Strategic Resource
Management


Few Critical Goals (National/regional):
Strategic Intent


Alternative implementation strategies


Monitor (Implementation and costs and
benefits)


Evaluate against a baseline

13

Adaptive Strategic Resource Management


Goals

Evaluate

(Impact on Goals)




Monitor


Alternative

Implementation

Strategies



14

The Blue Ribbon Panel


Whose values count? The general
public’s interest in environmental
quality protection and restoration


CEAP should be about pursuing agri
-
environmental goals, solving problems:
not measuring effects of individual
programs/practices

15

The Blue Ribbon Panel


CEAP should have on
-
the
-
ground
monitoring and not rely solely on
simulation or extrapolation


Watershed studies should be used to
build capacity and knowledge to use in
other settings and in regional
assessments

16

The Blue Ribbon Panel


Geo
-
referencing to site specific
conditions is crucial


Collaboration with other federal and
state agencies, NGOs and others is
crucial.

17

The Blue Ribbon Panel


Use CEAP to reduce agri
-
environmental risks


CEAP is about agri
-
environmental
management more than on
-
farm
conservation


Since the majority of the problems come from
only a small amount of acreage


Where vulnerable lands and inappropriate
management intersect


Identify and target technical assistance and
program funds to these lands/operators

18

Politically Constrained
Conservation Management


Most agri
-
environmental problems are
wicked problems


There is not broad consensus among all
players as to what are the appropriate
goals of conservation.


19

Politically Constrained
Conservation Management


History: Commodity producers and their
representatives are whose values count.
(Commodity programs can steamroll
conservation programs)


History: spreading program benefits
widely and providing income support
gains political support


Targeting is prohibited by Congress


20

Politically Constrained Conservation
Management


History: Congress is prone to cutting
technical assistance/capacity or analysis
to gain more program benefit funds


History: distinct map boundaries and
geo referencing of agri
-
environmental
problems can cause the agency trouble
and break confidentiality agreements.

21

Political Constrained
Conservation Management


Need to get a good PART score from
OMB

by quantifying program effects
not by quantifying progress toward
(fuzzy?) national or regional agri
-
environmental goals.

22

Politically Constrained
Conservation Management


NRCS must balance political risks with
environmental risks.


The problems are wicked indeed!

23

24

Upper Mississippi Basin
Assessment


Analysis of Effects of Conservation
Practices


Not of programs


Not relative to a baseline or goal


Uses model simulations

25

Upper Mississippi Basin
Assessment Based on


Watershed Scale


Actual farming activities


Consistent with specific natural resource
conditions


Using data on fate and transport


Links to water quality outcomes


Adds to knowledge of landscape
assessment

26

Upper Mississippi Basin
Assessment


Well situated for “what if” policy
-
relevant, science informed questions
(via simulation)


But does not yet address them


27

The Biggest Challenge


To diversity NRCS mission and develop
structures that can effectively respond
to wicked agri
-
environmental problems


Move from plot scale, practice specific
perspectives to systems perspective


Move from program delivery objectives
to pursuit of environmental goals

28

The Biggest Challenge



Very difficult for any agency to do

29

However, to fail to meet
adequately this challenge
means that:


The conservation programs have less
relevance to current or emergent risks and
societal demands


Others will take on the tasks of reducing
environmental risks, pursuing environmental
restoration and sustainability goals


Via federal/state/local/NGO activities, legislation
and regulation


Via courts and/or consumer purchasing power.

30

Thank you!