Iris Caldwell, Dan Salas, Kris Gade (Arizona DOT), Eric Johnson (Evergy), Mel Odens (Kandiyohi County), Samuel Glinsky (Texas DOT), Bill Conn (Vermont Electric Company)
The iconic monarch butterfly continues to make headlines. In December 2020, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced that the monarch butterfly was warranted for listing under the Endangered Species Act, but precluded (or delayed) due to higher priority needs. Following this announcement, the 2020-2021 overwintering numbers for both the Western and Eastern monarch butterfly populations were released. The Western population dipped to a catastrophic new low: less than 2,000 butterflies along the California coast, representing a 99.9% reduction from historic levels. The Eastern population, which overwinters in central Mexico, fell an additional 26% from the previous year, representing only about one-third of the estimated target to maintain a stable population.
Beginning in 2018, a group of 40+ partners from across the energy and transportation sectors in the U.S. developed the first nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) to promote voluntary conservation of monarch butterfly habitat on energy and transportation lands. CCAAs are regulatory mechanisms that encourage landowners and managers to adopt measures that create net conservation benefits in exchange for regulatory assurances that no additional requirements beyond the CCAA will be mandated if the monarch butterfly becomes listed.
The University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) oversees the collaborative CCAA program, which was finalized and approved in April 2020. After its first full year in operation, UIC and the 25+ energy and transportation partners that have enrolled in the agreement have learned a lot about its implementation. This presentation will provide an overview of the final CCAA, what it means for industry partners, and lessons learned in the first year. Attendees will hear several unique perspectives and case studies from CCAA partners, including two energy companies, two state departments of transportation, and one county road authority, that are actively engaged in the CCAA and are using the agreement to build momentum around native habitat conservation.
Iris Caldwell is Program Manager – Sustainable Landscapes at the University of Illinois Chicago. Over the past five years, she has facilitated the Rights-of-Way as Habitat Working Group to promote habitat restoration along transportation and utility corridors. She led the development of the first nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances for the monarch butterfly and facilitates the Illinois Monarch Project a statewide strategy for monarch butterfly conservation in Illinois.
Dan Salas is a Senior Ecologist certified by the Ecological Society of America and has more than 20 years of experience in natural resource management, including utility vegetation management, conservation planning, and decision analysis projects. Most recently, he acted as the lead author and supporting facilitator of the Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances for the Monarch Butterfly on Energy and Transportation Lands.
Eric Johnson is a Sr. Environmental Consultant for Evergy with over 17 years of experience working on wildlife conservation and infrastructure related issues in Kansas and Missouri. At Evergy, Eric is responsible for management of the company’s Avian Protection Program as well as the assessment and mitigation of wildlife related issues involving new transmission and generation projects.
Samuel Glinsky is a Vegetation Specialist working for the Texas Department of Transportation. His primary duties involve overseeing the agencies enrollment in the Monarch CCAA and assisting in the management of the agency's herbicide, mowing, and native seeding programs. Across these disciplines, Sam’s focus is to improve the agency’s Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management program to provide better habitat for pollinators, wildlife, and native plants; all while keeping the traveling public safe and the roadsides beautiful.
Melvin (Mel) Odens, P.E., is the Public Works Director / County Engineer for Kandiyohi County, where he has served in this role for the past seven years. Prior to that, he worked for more than four years at the Minnesota Department of Transportation, in both the District Office as well as Central Office, and 14 years as the Public Works Director / City Engineer for the City of Willmar, Minnesota. He is active on committees within engineering associations on both state and local levels, providing him awareness of issues both in Minnesota and nationally.
Bill Conn works as a certified utility arborist at Vermont Electric Power Company. He is a: ISA Certified Arborist, Certified Utility Specialist, and Certified Tree Climber Specialist, a TCIA Certified Tree Care Safety Professional, and holds an ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification. He received his AAS degree in Urban Tree Management from Paul Smiths College.
Kris Gade is an ecologist with expertise in vegetation management, wetlands, wildlife connectivity and regulatory compliance. She completed a doctorate in Biology/Urban Ecology at Arizona State University and works in Environmental Planning at Arizona DOT. She serves as co-chair of the Natural Resources subcommittee of the AASHTO Committee on Environment and Sustainability, on the Advisory Committee for the Monarch Butterfly CCAA and is a member of the TRB Standing Committees on Environmental Analysis and Ecology (AEP70) and Roadside Maintenance Operations (AKR20).