Chesapeake Bay Program: Adaptive Decision-Making to Improve Management Outcomes

Laurel Abowd1, Morgan Corey1, Breck Maura Sullivan2, Allie Wagner1 and Cuiyin Wu1, (1)Chesapeake Research Consortium, Edgewater, MD, United States, (2)SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY, United States
The Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) is a unique regional partnership that embraces ecosystem-based management (EBM) by supporting restoration at a watershed scale, working across jurisdictions with an integrated, scientific approach. The CBP is guided by the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, which outlines goals for abundant life, clean water, climate resiliency, conserved lands, and engaged communities. The partnership emphasizes a common commitment to collaboration and adaptation. In a series of talks, we will highlight how the CBP demonstrates EBM with three interdependent themes: 1) restoration and water quality, 2) scientific assessment and reporting, and 3) adaptive partnerships.

In the third theme, we describe the CBP’s adaptive management framework for learning by doing. The CBP recognizes the value of diverse outcomes ranging from increasing public access to conserving blue crabs. Working toward this common vision, the CBP implements adaptive management by setting goals, identifying gaps, developing actions, monitoring progress and adapting based on lessons learned. Formalized as the Strategy Review System (SRS), the process allows the CBP to consider changing scientific, policy, and fiscal factors, while continually assessing progress. Over a 2-year cycle, each outcome presents successes and gaps in progress and requests assistance from the CBP Management Board (MB), composed of federal and state managers. By listening to and working with outcome subject matter experts to understand trade-offs and benefits in meeting an established set of goals, the MB can identify common problems facing the entire partnership.

Through lessons learned from the SRS, the partnership is now prioritizing science needs and decision support tools. The prioritization process is driven by factors influencing the partnership’s ability to achieve common goals and will direct the CBP’s EBM work. We will include specific living resource examples to tie together all three talks.