Speaker Info

Brooke Landry
Chair of the Chesapeake Bay Programs SAV Workgroup
Chesapeake Bay Program, Department of Natural Resources

Email: brooke.landry@maryland.gov


Brooke Landry is Chair of the Chesapeake Bay Program's SAV Workgroup as well as a Natural Resource Biologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. She has been conducting research in the Chesapeake Bay since she was an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, with extended interludes of study in the seagrass habitats of North Carolina, Florida, and Puerto Rico. Brooke came to Maryland DNR in 2009 and has been serving as Chair of the SAV Workgroup since June 2015. Her particular area of interest focuses on changes in SAV habitats over time as a function of varying water quality parameters and physical influences, especially those of anthropogenic origin.

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Seminar Abstract

Since the early 1980s, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, with the support of the Chesapeake Bay Program partnership, and with funding from the EPA and other local, state, and federal partners, has lead an annual Bay-wide SAV monitoring effort using data interpreted from aerial imagery integrated with ground survey data. The program has evolved over the past three decades to become the most successful large-scale, consistent, long-term SAV monitoring program in the world. Because of the program’s endurance and reliability of data, SAV scientists and managers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed have grown to rely on the data for a variety of purposes. With that said, the ability to identify and secure diverse and sustainable sources of long-term funding for the program have not been successful in the past several years. The program itself has become more expensive over the years as the quantity of data and level of detail, accuracy, and staff expertise have increased, while simultaneously the number and diversity of funding partners has declined significantly over the life of the survey, with increased EPA funds making up the difference over the past decade. VIMS recently and successfully re-competed for the SAV aerial survey grant from the EPA and therefore has EPA funding for the next six years. They are, however, still short on funding from additional partners (it's set up as a cooperative agreement). The program is approximately $100,000 per year deficient in funds and under threat of ending if additional financial partners aren't secured.

Seminar Transcript

>> So, I am just following up on what JJ just said. Preaching to the choir. We are having funding difficulties, but first I'll go through as JJ was alluding to and discussed to an extent, the multiple, multiple users of the data. And I'm going to start with a couple weeks ago, one of our folks at GNR emailed out to all the workgroup chairs within the, under his purview and said, he asked, he's like, "Are there any fatal flaws in your work plans? Before they go online, before they're published, what are your fatal flaws?" And I thought, well, our work plan is perfect. Our management strategy is perfect. We're good to go. But then I had one of those in the middle of the night moments where you're just kind of, everything is stewing. It's like actually, we have an Achilles heel to our work plan and our management strategy. And that is the SAV Monitoring Program. And it occurred to me that every single aspect of our management strategy and work plan is dependent on the SAV monitoring data. And that's great. It's great to have the data, but if the data goes away, that's, it's going to be a major issue. So, very important just to accentuate that point. And then, of course, I won't go through all of this, but there are multiple, multiple uses of the data that really highlights the necessity to have this data annually. It's used for the SAV outcome or clarity indication indicators. It's used for the development of TMDLs. As [inaudible] just said, regulatory and permitting purposes, it's necessary for all that. It's necessary in the biology and ecology of progress that we're making for modeling and forecasting any number of management efforts. So, when the program began, there was a very large pool of financial participants. Maybe not when it began but through the years and the beginning of the program back in, it started in 1984. There are a number of agencies contributing to the financial burden of the program. But now it's down to EPA, NOAA, Virginia CRM, Virginia DEQ, and Maryland DNR. I have this nice little analogy. SAV bed resilience is through species diversity as SAV monitoring program is through funding partner diversity. So, the monitoring program costs, like while our funding diversity is going down, the cost is going up, of course. >> When is then? What was then? >> Eighty-four. 1984. >> And there's a lot of very interesting issues that led to why it's that cost versus now [multiple speakers] complete history that I put together [inaudible] day program about how it has evolved from Day 1, which is actually in the '70s to where we are now, which includes the fact that [inaudible] and camera. It didn't cost anything. >> Right. But those numbers aren't inflation adjusted, right? >> No. They are not. Yeah [multiple speakers]. Yeah. [Multiple Speakers] adjusted figure, which shows that it's actually greater than that today. Yeah. >> Yeah. It used to cost more than it does now. >> Yeah. >> Yeah [multiple speakers]. >> So, it has become more expensive over the years as the quantity and quality of data has increased in its level of detail, accuracy, and staff expertise but take into account inflation. So, the breakdown for the current contribution is that EPA pays for the majority of it. VIMS puts in a fairly substantial match. Virginia DEQ and CZM contribute quite a lot. Maryland DNR used to. Ideally, we will rework this contribution percentage to have it look something like this. Maryland and Virginia contributing equally I'd like to see. And then have other financial contributors. Maybe decrease the VIMS match and decrease the EPA input. Rich would like to see that happen anyway. So, like JJ just said, this is, this figure is showing like the money that is actually put in. But it's not all the money that's necessary. There's about $100,000 operational deficit. Is that about an accurate figure? >> Yeah. That's as close as you can get right now. >> OK. So, we're looking at about $100,000 deficit to keep this program going. So, what are we doing to remedy the situation? First off, I'm working with Rich [inaudible] to put together a workshop that's a data user workshop. We're going to get everybody to the extent possible that uses the data into one room to discuss what their exact needs are, what exactly they use the data for, just get as much information from as many people as we possibly can that have anything to do with this data and determine if there's a, if there's data that we're collecting that we don't need, data that we're processing that we don't need, or if this is actually the perfect SAV monitoring program. And so the workshop objectives are to reach an agreement on the full range of existing, intended, and potential management, regulatory, and research uses of the combined aerial and ground surveys. We want to find out what are the exact survey design requirements of each of those management, regulatory, and research uses. Then reach agreement on essentially a redesigned and integrated SAV aerial and ground survey, which best addressed all or the majority of the higher priority management, regulatory, and research uses. Also, it fully factors in the realistic operational considerations. Hopefully this workshop will take place in the fall. It hasn't been scheduled yet but that's what I'm aiming for. We're also, of course, repeatedly and possibly annoyingly requesting financial partnerships with anybody that will listen. I've asked the Department of Defense, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the state of Maryland to contribute more, or contribute some or more. We also, I've also made the situation known to the goal team's stack and like I just said DNR leadership and bay policy. So, when Scott asked us to present, his main question was how can STAR help? I really, I have no idea. I don't know. How can you help? This topic has been on the table for years. So, we've all had a chance to discuss it over and over and besides just reaching out, using your influence to reach out to DOD and Army Corps and potentially providing input for the workshop, that would be good helping us go through the response we get in participating in the workshop itself. That's how I'm hoping STAR can help. So, that's pretty much my spiel in a nut shell of just the fact that the survey is in financial trouble still.

Seminar Discussion

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