PACIFIC REGION RECIPIENT OF THE NATIONAL RECOVERY CHAMPION AWARD
Left: Marbled murrelet at sea. USFWS photo.
Center: Joanne Stellini.
Right: Golden Paintbrush. USFWS photo.
Joanne Stellini, a biologist in the Western Washington Fish and Wildlife Office in Lacey, has been the manager and primary contact for the nontraditional section 6 grant program in Washington State since fiscal year 2000. This program includes grants for Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) Land Acquisition, HCP Planning Assistance, and Recovery Land Acquisition. She is a recovery champion because she developed a coordinated effort between the two cooperating State agencies, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and Washington Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), and multiple other partners. This coordinated effort is unparalleled in the nation. Because of her efforts to establish excellent working relationships, the two State agencies are responding to the national request for proposals in a unified and cohesive way.
This partnership has led to successfully securing an average of approximately $11,500,000 annually through the HCP and Recovery Land Acquisition programs. Since 2000 approximately $72,000,000 have been secured for permanent protection of habitat for listed species associated with approved HCPs, and since 2001 approximately $7,000,000 have been secured through regional competition for permanent protection of habitat through the Recovery Land Acquisition program. These funds have allowed State agencies and their partners to acquire and permanently protect 45,815 acres of habitat for listed species. In addition, an annual average of $2,000,000 in HCP Planning Assistance grants have been secured through national competition to fund the development of HCPs by State agencies and their partners, which will provide for better management of species habitat throughout the State. In fiscal year 2006, the two State agencies received an unprecedented 37 percent of the nationally available funding for HCP land acquisition and 32 percent of the HCP planning assistance dollars.
Recovery Land Acquisition grants obtained through Joanne’s efforts in Washington State have funded purchase of key parcels that are instrumental in meeting recovery goals of at least three listed species including golden paintbrush, Columbian white-tailed deer, and Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit. HCP Land Acquisition grants have also benefited conservation of listed species such as northern spotted owls, marbled murrelets, bald eagles, grizzly bear, lynx, and bull trout, by protecting their breeding and foraging habitat and expanding connectivity of protected areas.
The leadership skills exhibited by Joanne are a high level of consensus building, organizational skills, and problem solving abilities. She has worked with the State agencies to develop a cohesive State-wide preproposal application process where the Service and State agencies receive and prioritize proposals that are submitted during this preproposal period. The State agencies are then prepared to respond to the National request for proposals when announced. Because of her leadership skills the two competing State agencies submit a single unified package of high quality complex proposals for consideration with each project prioritized within the State. In one case, where a project was being funded through WDFW but they were unable to provide the required match for the grant, she was able to solve the problem by working with WDFW and WDNR and negotiating for WDNR to provide WDNR property as match for the WDFW grant.
Joanne’s efforts have involved cooperation with multiple partners, including the WDNR, WDFW, Western Rivers Conservancy, Whidbey Camano Land Trust, City of Seattle, Cascade Land Conservancy, Douglas County, Nisqually Land Trust, and The Nature Conservancy – to name a few.