My association with NatureServe dates to the founding of the organization at which time I was the natural resources program manager for the Department of the Air Force. In that capacity I was responsible for ensuring compliance with environmental laws and sound natural resources stewardship was practiced on Air Force lands. The nearly nine million acres of Air Force land is distributed throughout the country and is typically characterized by high biological diversity and other important environmental values. Ensuring sound stewardship of the Air Force lands was imperative for the accomplishment of the Air Force’s primary mission of military testing and training. Although the Air Force, as well as the other military services, maintain professional staffs to manage the natural resources on individual installations, those individuals often required assistance in dealing with specific issues involving critical species management. For that reason the Department of Defense established a partnership with NatureServe to assist in the management of its critical species management programs as well as other efforts for the general conservation and enhancement of biological diversity. Over the years that partnership has yielded spectacular results and directly enabled the military services to effectively manage their natural resources programs. NatureServe has felicitated access to Natural Heritage databases and other resources to help military natural resources managers make assessments of the status of individual species on their lands. Additionally, they have provided resources to assist military planners in reducing the impact of future military operations on sensitive species and they have provided educational resources to help inform military natural resources managers of current issues and strategies for enhancing biological diversity on military lands.
Since my retirement from the Air Force, I continue to use NatureServe programs and resources. For example, as an active member of the Arizona Native Plant Society, I and others in our organization working on the protection of Arizona’s native flora have found NatureServe’s Explorer website to be an invaluable source for information on the status of the sensitive plants and ecosystems we are attempting to protect.
In summary, NatureServe is an outstanding organization which provides truly unique and priceless resources to government agencies, private industry, environmental organizations, and individuals seeing to protect and enhance biological diversity.
NatureServe is responsible for something most people presume the US (or Canadian) government would be doing: keeping the definitive database of endangered species and endangered ecosystems in the US (and in Canada).
NatureServe is a network of dedicated biologists across the US and Canada, who collaborate to ensure this information is not only stewarded and updated, but made accessible, for free, on line, to any interested person, schoolroom, or researcher.
As a board member (unpaid, as are all non-profit board members) for NatureServe, I have an insiders' view, and am hugely impressed with the devotion to mission and careful stewardship of resources at NatureServe.
NatureServe and its member network provides critical information and tools to help decision-makers make informed land use decisions. Better informed decisions will guide conservation and biodiversity efforts. I have been incredibly impressed by the commitment and passion of the NatureServe staff. All of my contributions to NatureServe have been unrestricted because I understand the care and thoughtfulness that goes into projects that meet the organization's mission.
NatureServe, an offshoot of The Nature Conservancy, is the umbrella organization for the network of natural heritage programs in every U.S. state and Canadian province as well as in many Latin American countries. NatureServe provides the scientific basis for effective conservation action throughout the Western Hemisphere. It is inconceivable to me how one could effectively target scarce conservation dollars towards those species most at risk and those ecosystems most deserving of conservation attention without the information researched, compiled, and distributed by NatureServe.