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PPA Seminar Series

Unless otherwise indicated, all presentations occur at 12:15-1:15 (Eastern Time) in the Rachel Carson Room, located in the Basement Cafeteria of the Main Interior Building (1849 C St. NW, Washington, DC).  Livestream is available at for upcoming events.  Login is required to ask questions.  Please click "join" or "login to chat" and follow instructions.  Closed captioning will also be available.

UPCOMING SEMINARS (in chronological order)

February 10, 2014
Speaker: John J. Wiens, Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Topic: Climate Change, Evolution, and Conservation

NB: This presentation will be livestreamed from Tucson, Arizona

This seminar focuses on how species respond to climate change. Each species has a niche, a range of temperature and precipitation conditions within which it operates. If climate change causes these conditions to shift outside the climatic niche of a species, then populations must either move, acclimate behaviorally or physiologically, or adapt evolutionarily and shift their climatic niche. Otherwise, the species may go extinct. The discussion will expand on two key issues: (a) how quickly do climatic niches evolve relative to the projected pace of future climate change? (b) what causes species and populations to go extinct as climate changes?

March 10, 2014
Speaker:    Anne Neale, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EnviroAtlas Lead
Topic:    EnviroAtlas: Connecting Ecosystems, People, and Well-being

This seminar will feature a discussion on the EnviroAtlas, a web-based application of geospatial data, analytical tools, and interpretive information on ecosystem goods and services.  Examples of ecosystem goods and services include clean water, timber, habitat for a wide variety of species, flood and disease control, carbon sequestration, recreation, and cultural and spiritual resources.  EnviroAtlas is a multi-organization collaborative effort with a growing list of partners, including DOI’s United States Geological Survey.  Anne Neale, Lead for the EnviroAtlas effort, will discuss how the EnviroAtlas will allow DOI and its partners to access data to help identify current levels of ecosystem services in the conterminous United States, the beneficiaries and demand for those services, and the expected levels of services under future scenarios.

April 14, 2014
:Jerry Johnston, DOI Geospatial Information Officer
The National Geospatial Platform

How will energy development affect endangered species habitat? How will landscape fragmentation change if one or more conservation actions were taken? These questions and many more depend on geospatial information. Practitioners now have access to a wide variety of geospatial datasets and tools for this sort of analysis. Please join Interior's Office of Policy Analysis on Monday, April 14 for the monthly speaker series, which will feature Jerry Johnston, DOI's Geospatial Information Officer. Jerry will discuss how the Geospatial Platform can enable more effective landscape-level decision making in support of many different policy and program needs, including climate change adaptation, ecosystem services and resilience, energy assessments, and hazard response.

PAST SEMINARS (in reverse chronological order)

January 13, 2014
Topic:    How Does USEITI Benefit Americans?
    Paul Mussenden, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Natural Resources Revenue Management, Department of the Interior
    Marti Flacks, Deputy Director, Bureau of Energy Resources, State Department
    Danielle Brian, Executive Director, Project on Government Oversight
    Veronika Kohler, Director, International policy, National Mining Association

This seminar is a panel discussion about U.S. implementation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI). The EITI is a global standard that promotes revenue transparency and accountability in the extractive sector. Forty-one countries are in various stages of implementing EITI, and many more have committed to sign up. The USEITI is a signature initiative of the U.S. National Action Plan for the Open Government Partnership. The panelists will offer their perspectives on the benefits of implementing this voluntary framework for governments and companies to publicly disclose the revenues paid and received. To learn more about USEITI please visit:

December 9, 2013
Please note: because of the furlough, there are two presentations in December 2013

Speaker:  Mark Shaffer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Climate Change Policy Advisor
Topic: National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy

This seminar will feature a discussion on the National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for Fish, Wildlife, and Plants.  Mark Shaffer, National Climate Change Policy Advisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will describe how this new strategy is being implemented by federal, state and tribal governments to reduce negative impacts from a changing climate on natural resources, economies, and communities that depend on plants, animals, and ecosystems.  He will discuss the role for DOI and its partners and engage the audience in discussing what is needed to overcome challenges.

December 3, 2013
Please note: because of the furlough, this presentation was rescheduled from October 7

Speaker:  Janet Ranganathan, Vice President, Science and Research, World Resources Institute Topic:  Integrating Ecosystem Services Into Public and Private Sector Decision Making

This seminar will feature a discussion on how ecosystem services can be factored into a variety of public and private sector decisions in ways that support environmental, social and economic goals. Human well-being and nature are inextricably linked. Yet policies and practices related to human development and ecosystem protection are too often developed separately or even viewed as being in opposition. As a result, the pursuit of human development has driven widespread degradation of ecosystem services. By considering nature in terms of ecosystem services, decision makers can see and value the environment as a series of assets or benefits that humans in fact depend upon. 

November 4, 2013
Speaker:Ione L. Taylor, Associate Director for Energy and Minerals, and Environmental Health, US Geological Survey
Topic:Managing Energy and Mineral Resources for Sustainability

This seminar will feature a discussion on sustainable energy and mineral management.Each year in the U.S., approximately 40,000 pounds of new energy and mineral resource material per person is needed to make the things we use every day.Balancing the demand for these resources with the need to ensure an adequate supply into the future is a major challenge for landscape level resource managers and for scientists who support them.This discussion will cover two paradoxes at the heart of energy and mineral resource issues and how wise management of DOI lands can help build a sustainable future.

Please note: because of the furlough, the presentation for October 7, 2103 was rescheduled for December 3, 2013.

September 9, 2013
Speaker: Benjamin Simon, Assistant Director, Economic Analysis, DOI Office of Policy Analysis
Topic:  DOI's Annual Economic Report – Measuring the Economic Contributions of DOI's Programs

This Seminar will feature a discussion on Interior's annual Economic Report.  Prepared by the Office of Policy Analysis, the Report estimates Interior's economic contributions, including land and water management; energy and mineral development on public lands; encouraging tourism and outdoor recreation at national parks, monuments, and refuges; wildlife conservation, hunting and fishing; support for American Indian tribal communities and Insular Areas; and scientific research and innovation.  The most recent report estimates that Interior's activities contributed $371 billion to the national economy and supported an estimated 2.3 million jobs in Fiscal Year 2012.

July 8, 2013
Speaker:  Dr. Caroline Ridley, Ecologist, US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, National Center for Environmental Assessment

Topic:  Invasives to Clean Energy: Dealing with Difficult Decisions
This seminar features a discussion on the environmental trade-offs of bioenergy.  Efforts underway to bolster domestic sources of environmentally friendly energy, such as ethanol and biodiesel, focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  What happens when a renewable fuel misses the environmental mark in other ways?  Dr. Ridley will use the example of Arundo donax, an invasive plant with renewable biomass properties, to explain how greenhouse gas reduction efforts can sometimes be at odds with other goals.  This example has forced careful consideration of trade-offs that currently challenge the search for clean, abundant energy.

June 10, 2013

Speaker:  “Chip” Euliss, Research Biologist, U.S. Geological Survey, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, Jamestown, North Dakota
Topic:  To Bee or Not to Bee:  How Northern Great Plains Pollinators Impact the U.S.

This seminar will feature a discussion on the importance of bees and how land management in the Northern Great Plains impacts bees and pollination elsewhere in the United States.   The Northern Great Plains is the most important region in the U.S. for pollination services, currently valued at $29 billion annually.  Migratory beekeepers transport more than a million honey bee colonies into the region each spring to produce honey.  Equally important, but less well known, is the value of the region for building honey bee colony health and population size to meet the pollination needs of crops elsewhere in the U.S.  As more acreage in the region is converted to cropland, federal agencies have worked to restore previously farmed land into prairie habitat to support these native pollinators and other wildlife.  Chip Euliss will describe how the Departments of Interior and Agriculture and several universities are developing models to inform policy and land management decisions that impact pollinators dependent on the Northern Great Plains – especially in the wake of changing land use patterns and changing climate.

April 8, 2013

Speaker:  Tom Martin, President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Forest Foundation
Topic:  Family Forests: More than Just Trees

This seminar will focus on engaging private forest owners in larger scale restoration efforts.  Twenty million American families own the largest share of forested lands in the United States and they play a key role in ensuring healthy ecosystems.  The question is: what is the best way to engage them in stewardship efforts that benefit larger landscapes and the environment?  Tom Martin, President and CEO of the American Forest Foundation, will discuss how the challenges posed by climate change, pests, pathogens and development, affect forests of all ownership types, and describe approaches to addressing these challenges.  He will discuss what motivates family forest owners and what incentives might entice them to become even better stewards.

March 11, 2013
Speaker:  Larry Meinert, USGS Program Coordinator for the Minerals Resources Program
Topic:  The Science of Good Taste – Geology, Wine, and Food

This seminar will address how physical factors affect food quality, examining some food and wine producing areas in France, California, and Washington State.  Records of the ancient Egyptians and Greeks contain observations that certain lands seemed to produce better food and wine than others. This is still true today, as adjoining farms may share climate, slope, and farming methods, yet produce crops that are vastly different. The simple question is, "Why?"

January 14, 2013
Speaker:  Michael Young, Assistant Solicitor for Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Department of the Interior
Topic: Forty Years of the Endangered Species Act:  Remarkable Origin, Resilience, and Opportunity

This seminar will focus on one of the nation's preeminent conservation laws, the Endangered Species Act.  Michael Young, the Assistant Solicitor for Fish and Wildlife, will focus on the legal background that paved the way for the enactment of the ESA and the key events over the last 40 years that shaped the administration of the statute.  The fundamental conservation purpose of the ESA remains alive and well, and the opportunity is wide-open for forward-looking administrative action to address the conservation of endangered and threatened species. 

Please click here for a PDF copy of Michael Young's presentation.

December 10, 2012
Speaker: Thomas Lovejoy, Chair, H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment and Professor of Environmental Science and Policy , George Mason University
Topic: Conservation and Global Change: The Role of Biology and Resource Management

Please click here for Dr. Lovejoy's Biography

November 5, 2012
Speaker: Molly Macauley, Vice President for Research and Senior Fellow, Resources for the Future
Topic:  Forever Ours: The Challenge of Long-Lived Environmental Problems

This seminar will focus on long-lasting environmental problems,T including the presence of long-lived pharmaceutical residues in air, water and soil; management of nuclear waste and industrial site contamination; sequestration of carbon dioxide; and the accumulation of space debris. Economically feasible and effective technological solutions abound in many of these examples, but failure often rests with institutions and decision-making. Are current and future generations destined to live with these problems or could there be new, creative approaches to managing these actual or perceived long-term threats?

Please click here for a copy of Dr. Macauley's Biography

October 15, 2012
Speaker: Emily Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, NOAA Fisheries Service NOAA
Topic: Fishery Management

This seminar will feature a discussion on NOAA Fisheries' work to sustainably manage marine fisheries in the United States. The health of our nation's fisheries is critical to the economy. Commercial and recreational marine fisheries contribute $183 billion per year to the U.S. economy and support more than 1.5 million jobs. The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act – implemented by NOAA Fisheries – outlines the legislative framework and process for fisheries management. Emily Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, NOAA Fisheries Service, will provide an overview of NOAA Fisheries' mandate and discuss fishery management tools and strategies, partnerships, and significant progress made in preventing overfishing and rebuilding stocks.

Please click here for Emily Menashes's Biography (NOAA Fisheries Leadership Biographies)
Please click here to view a PDF copy of Emily Menashes's presentation

September 10, 2012
Speaker: Danny Lee, Director Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center, USDA Forest Service
Topic: Using Science to Inform Policy:  A National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy

Planning for and responding to wildland fire involve complex management tradeoffs that transcend jurisdictional boundaries, single agency objectives, and individual stakeholder values.  The National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy (Cohesive Strategy) is a multi-year effort to broadly address these challenges and explore solutions that satisfy the needs of local communities, states, tribes, federal agencies and non-governmental partners.  A structured planning process that helps clarify objectives and predict possible outcomes to multiple values at risk is being used within the Cohesive Strategy to enhance collaboration and promote integration.  Managers and stakeholders have teamed with scientists and analysts to explore a range of available options for creating resilient landscapes, promoting fire-adapted communities, and ensuring safe and effective response to wildfires. Analyses have involved assembling national datasets and implementing sophisticated and transparent approaches to modeling and analysis. This presentation will focus on the role of science and analysis to support development of the Cohesive Strategy from the perspective of one of the lead scientists involved in this effort.

Please click here for a PDF copy of Danny Lee's presentation.

The report is available at:

August 13, 2012
Speaker: Peter E. Grigelis, Economist, Interior's Office of Policy Analysis
Topic: Amenity Values of Proximity to National Wildlife Refuges

This presentation features a discussion of the recently published report Amenity Values of Proximity to National Wildlife Refuges. The peer-reviewed study, released May 30 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, details the results of a national-scale analysis of the effect National Wildlife Refuges have on nearby homeowners' property values. In addition to the ecological benefits and on-site recreational opportunities provided by refuges, the amenity benefits of permanently protected open space offered by refuges can increase nearby property values, particularly in urban housing markets where protected open space is relatively scarce. This analysis found that refuges in urban areas examined in the Southeast, Northeast, and California/Nevada regions added roughly $122 million, $95 million, and $83 million, respectively, to nearby property values. Beyond the open space amenities benefits to nearby homeowners, local communities in these areas also enjoy an increased property tax base as a result of the refuges.

The report is available at:

July 9, 2012
Speaker:  Ken Williams, USGS, Chief, Cooperative Research Units
Topic:  Adaptive Management

The Interior Department's Adaptive Management: The U.S. Department of the Interior Applications Guide uses case studies to provide federal, state, tribal and other natural resource managers with tools to more effectively address the complexities and uncertainties of natural resource management.  The Case studies focus on four areas important to Interior and its partners: climate change, water resources, energy, and human impacts on the landscape to show the breadth of adaptive management applications at different scales and different levels of complexity.  Ken Williams, USGS, Chief, Cooperative Research Units, will discuss the Applications Guide and explain how adaptive management can facilitate decision making and help resolve the uncertainties that hinder effective resource management.

Applications Guide:

July 9, 2012 PowerPoint Presentation:

June, 2012
Speaker:  Deborah Mead, Biologist, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Endangered Species Program
Topic:  Habitatat Conservation Banking

Deborah Mead, U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service Endangered Species Program, will discuss habitat conservation banking, a market-based incentive program to permanently protect lands with natural resource values. Habitat conservation banks offset adverse impacts to species occurring elsewhere.  Mitigation markets, metrics, standards, and other aspects of this program will also be discussed.


May 14, 2012
Speaker:  Liza Johnson, DOI Office of Policy Analysis
Topic:  U.S. Coral Reef Task Force

Liza Johnson will discuss the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force: what it is, how it operates, and DOI's role.  She will highlight some of its current projects that bring together the expertise of 12 Federal agencies, seven states and territories, and three Freely Associated States on the Task Force.  Current projects include the Watershed Partnership Initiative, a handbook on coral reef impact avoidance and mitigation, and compiling agency disaster assessment and response capacities and tools.  Liza will also discuss how these efforts fit into the National Ocean Policy.

April 9, 2012
Speaker:  Lisa Goldman, Environmental Law Institute
Topic:  Project on Climate Change Adaptation and Biodiversity

March 12, 2012
Speaker:  James Boyd, Resources for the Future, Senior Fellow and Co-Director, Center for the Management of Ecological Wealth
Topic:  Incorporating Ecosystem Services into Resource Management

Jim Boyd's research lies at the intersection of economics, ecology, and law, with a particular focus on the measurement and management of ecosystem goods and services.  He will discuss how incorporating ecosystem services  into resource management improves the ability of governments, regulatory agencies, communities, and private firms to manage, protect, and enhance valuable ecological goods and services.  Topics to be covered include: Ecological investments, markets for ecosystem services, measuring ecosystem services, and the future of ecosystem services