On August 22, 2016, reporter Jay Price of NPR’s WUNC published a piece entitled “Pentagon Conservation Efforts Protect Rare Species — And Troops' Training Grounds”. In this two-part series, the correspondent interviewed Dr. Nick Haddad, an investigator on a SERDP project developing and testing protocol and framework for determining which species are likely to become conservation reliant in the face of a changing climate (RC-2512). Last week’s director’s blog featured the above story.

In this month’s Resource Conservation blog, we’re building on the partnership theme by highlighting another SERDP-funded collaboration, the Defense Coastal Estuarine Program (DCERP, RC-2245). The project, focused on coastal estuarine environments, is a decade-long collaboration between North Carolina’s Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune (MCBCL), universities, federal agencies, and stakeholders. With over 35 investigators on the project, managing this complex effort is key to its success. The project is led by Dr. Patricia Cunningham of RTI and Dr. Susan Cohen is the liaison to MCBCL. The mission of the Base – training and readiness – pairs well with DCERP’s mission which investigates the function of and stressors on coastal barrier, aquatic/estuarine, coastal wetland, and terrestrial ecosystems on DoD properties.

DCERP was implemented in two phases. The first phase was focused on understanding coastal and estuarine ecosystem composition, structure and function in the military training environment. The second phase (DCERP2), which began in 2013 and will conclude in 2017, is focused on understanding how coastal and estuarine ecosystems respond to climate change and to assess the carbon cycles in these ecosystems.

DCERP2 is ending the field component of its work by December 2016, and will then concentrate on synthesizing findings and bringing those findings to end-users. While the primary focus is to provide DoD science-based information to enhance the military mission and the role of natural resources in sustaining that mission, outreach focuses on multiple partners and growing relationships.

Stay tuned for more information coming out of DCERP2 as they near their last year of work. They are finishing enhancements to the Data Information System that will provide a one-stop shop for exploring DCERP2 findings and tools. The 2015 Annual Report summarizes the key outcomes with implications for DoD natural resources management such as:

  • Strategies to maintain clean water,
  • New scientific findings, such as better understanding the importance of sediment dynamics in tidal creeks, and
  • Investigating marsh sustainability in the context of carbon sequestration and sea level rise.