RCN Program Soon to Enter Phase 3 as Phase 2 Projects Wrap Up

RCN Program Soon to Enter Phase 3 as Phase 2 Projects Wrap Up

During the 10 years of the first phase of the Regional Conservation Needs (RCN) program, which started in 2007, over $3 million of conservation funds were awarded. Each federal dollar spent was matched by non-federal funding to leverage the conservation spending most effectively. The projects identified shared priority species, habitats, and threats and actions of the northeastern states.

The products from Phase 1 helped inform the goals and structure of RCN 2.0, the second phase of the collaborative work. RCN 2.0 has been active since 2018 and all projects closed in February of 2023. Approximately $1.9 million of conservation funds were awarded in the second phase, with $1.3 million of non-federal conservation dollars in matching funds. RCN 2.0 focused on four foundational projects: Turtles, Pollinators, Technical Services, and Foundational Tools. All final products will be posted to RCNgrants.org, along with more information about each project and progress reports.

The four foundational projects have enabled the Northeast Fish and Wildlife Diversity Technical Committee (NEFWDTC), the 15 Northeast wildlife diversity programs, and their State Wildlife Action Plans to inventory a decade of research, survey, and management efforts to identify the most effective actions on the ground.

The structure of RCN 2.0 is as follows:

Project 1: Turtle Project

Stabilize or increase populations of five priority Regional Species of Greatest Conservation Need (RSGCN) turtles. These turtle species will be the focus of conservation actions: Blanding’s, Eastern Box, Wood, Spotted Turtles, and Northern Diamondback Terrapins.

Job  I. Spotted Turtle Conservation

Job II. Eastern Box Turtle Conservation Plan

Job III. Road Mitigation

Job IV. Wood & Blanding's Turtle Conservation

Project 2: Pollinator Project

Restore and enhance habitats, with emphasis on early successional habitats, to benefit native pollinators.

Job I. Pollinator Monitoring Protocols

Job II. Vegetation Monitoring Protocols

Job III. Adaptive Habitat Management & BMPs

Job IV. Coordinate Project Team

Project 3: Technical Services

Add new information to the Northeast Regional State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) Database, to support ongoing collaborative work by states, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and partners.

Job I. Technical Support and DB Management

Project 4: Update Three Foundational Tools for the 2025 SWAP Revisions

Examine the landscape status, conservation projects, and best practices established over the past decade of SWAP implementation and create products that will inform all elements of the 2025 Northeast SWAP revisions.

Job I. Development and production of the 2022 Northeast Lexicon

Job II. Development and production of the 2023 Northeast Conservation Synthesis

Job III. Development and production of the 2022 Northeast Conservation Status Assessment


Plans to shape RCN 3.0 started in 2019. Over four years, the NEFWDTC generated focal areas based on regional projects and needs as determined by the SWAP database, RSGCN list, and regional Committee and taxonomic team input. These focal topics were presented to the Northeast Wildlife Administrators Association (NEWAA) and Directors and resulted in six regional projects and one project for overall grant administration. These seven conservation projects will be completed by 12/31/2027:

Project 1: Overall Grant Administration

Project 2: Northeast Pollinator and Important SGCN Insect Conservation Action Coordinator

Project 3: Comprehensive Conservation Assessment of All Cicindelidae (Tiger Beetles) in the Northeastern Region

Project 4: Northeastern USA Status Assessment of SGCN Stoneflies (Insecta, Plecoptera)

Project 5: Coordinated Assessment of Northeastern Diamond-backed Terrapin Populations

Project 6: Assessing Regional Trends, Effects, and Strategies to Mitigate Impacts and Identifying Data Gaps Regarding Renewable Energy Project Installations

Project 7: Technical Services Support for Northeast Fish & Wildlife Diversity Technical Committee (NEFWDTC)

The current proposed budget for RCN 3.0 is $2.4 million in RCN funded projects and an expected $1.7 million in non-federal matching funds. Projects will start in March of 2023. All progress reports, final products, and more information will be posted to RCNgrants.org.

March 13, 2023