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Independent Scientific Review of DRECP Species Profiles
The draft DRECP Species Profiles are used to summarize what is known about the taxonomy, life history, geographic distribution, regulatory status, population trends, threats, and known or potential limiting factors for each Covered Species, with an emphasis on information relevant to conservation planning decisions (e.g., setting goals and objectives, developing a conservation strategy, and designing reserves). Information contained in the species profiles will be used to support preparation of several elements of a conservation plan, including:
- Generating biological metrics for evaluating each Covered Species' potential distribution in the plan area (i.e., expert-based and/or statistical habitat models and known occurence data);
- Specifying species goals and objectives;
- Delineating and refining a reserve system and conservation strategy;
- Conducting a species-specific conservation analysis; and
- Preparing anadaptive management and monitoring program.
The Covered Species profiles are not intended to be exhaustive reviews of the literature for a particular species, but rather to compile the most important and relevant information for conservation planning and long-term plan implementation, including monitoring and adaptive management.
Independent Scientific Review of Habitat Models
The draft species habitat models are expert-based models that provide a preliminary assessment of the amount and distribution of potenially suitable habitat for the proposed Covered Species in the DRECP Plan Area. Initial models were generated by the DRECP consultants, Dudeck and ICF International, based on review of the species literature and the professional expertise and judgement of Dudeck and ICF International biologists. These initial habitat models are only the first step in the species habitat modeling process for the DRECP Covered Species. These expert-based species models provide a preliminary assessment of the amount an distribution of species' suitable habitat in the DRECP Plan Area. Additionally, for species with sufficient occurrence data in the DRECP Plan Area, statistically-based models and expert-based models will be independently reviewed by species experts to determine which information should be used in the development of the DRECP.
Species experts have been enlisted to review the draft species profiles and habitat models (when a model is available). The experts are listed in the following table, which will be updated as the experts agree to conduct the profile and model review.
Initial Independent Science Advisors Panel and Final Report
The development of the DRECP will be based on the best scientific information and research available of desert communities and the plants and wildlife they support. Early on in the development of the DRECP, an Independent Science Advisory (ISA) panel was formed to provide science-based input into the DRECP. In October 2010, the ISA panel issued its final report with numerous recommendations to the REAT agencies. The following quote has been taken from the Executive Summary of the ISA panel's final report.
"The advisors agree that increasing renewable energy production can yield numerous environmental and societal benefits by reducing dependence on fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions, and that California’s deserts have great potential for renewable energy production. However, siting and developing energy projects must be done carefully to avoid unnecessary damage to fragile desert ecosystems. Desert species and ecological communities are already severely stressed by human changes to the landscape, including urbanization, roads, transmission lines, invasive species, and disturbances by recreational, military, mining, and other activities. Additional stress from large-scale energy developments, in concert with a changing climate, portends further ecological degradation and the potential for species extinctions. The focus of the following recommendations is therefore on means of avoiding, minimizing, and mitigating adverse ecological impacts and contributing to the conservation of imperiled native species while accommodating energy development in appropriate areas."
As the DRECP is drafted and further refined, review and advice from additional scientific experts will obtained and incorporated into the DRECP.
Second Independent Science Advisory Panel and Final Report
In June 2012, a second Independent Science Advisory Panel was convened. The initial ISA panel was convened in 2010. Since then, significant progress has been made to develop and refine the DRECP and incorporate the recommendations of the initial ISA report. The purpose of the second ISA panel will be to provide another scientific review of DRECP documents and make recommendations on specific issues addressed by the plan such as climate change and other critical issues. The panel is expected to be formed and complete its work in the second and third quarters of 2012.