New Ecological Tool for State Land Managers
State Senator Ruth Ward (R-Stoddard) has introduced legislation SB 269 to create a new ecological tool to assist the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources (DNCR) in the management of state-owned lands. Called the Upland Ecological Integrity Assessment, the tool will provide new scientific information to public land managers responsible for the stewardship of more than 200,000 acres of state-owned land.
Co-sponsored by Senator David Watters (D-Dover), SB 269 appropriates $100,000 for the $150,000 project, enabling staff at DNCR’s Natural Heritage Bureau (NHB) to build the tool over the next two years. NHB has matching funds of $50,000 in hand. The bill was approved by the Senate on March 7 and is now before the House. The Forest Society testified in support of the bill at the Resources, Recreation & Development Committee on April 2.
The Upland EIA will provide scientific guidance in assessing impacts of particular management decisions (such as a prescribed fire treatment or building a new trail), as well as the impacts of key stressors (like forest fragmentation) on sensitive natural communities on state lands. The Upland EIA will complement a Wetlands EIA developed by the NHB in 2015.