In 2011, the Fish and Wildlife Service Chesapeake Bay Field Office (CBFO) wrote a strategic plan identifying 13 focus areas based on priority species and habitats and current projects. While this plan narrowed the geographic focus of CBFO’s work, it did not provide guidelines for dedicating CBFO resources within a focus area in order to achieve the greatest impact, making most efficient use of CBFO’s limited resources. In order to address this issue and continue the strategic planning process, in the Spring of 2011, CBFO began a series of workshops facilitated by SustainaMetrix to train CBFO staff in using SustainaMetrix’s methods for analyzing the governance systems and how these governance systems respond to changes in the environmental and social qualities of a specific place. The workshops were designed to provide CBFO with the tools and skills needed to develop the following:
- A system for gathering the key information needed to understand the unique context of a focus area
- Specific, time-bounded and prioritized goals for CBFO work in a focus area informed by an understanding of the context of the focus area
- Action strategies that are rooted in the reality of the context of the focus area
- A baseline of the environmental, social, and governance systems in the focus area that can be used as a reference point for future assessments and strategic planning initiatives
The CBFO’s Lower Potomac Focus Area was chosen to be the focus of the workshop series because of its high quality habitats that support both terrestrial and aquatic priority species that are threatened by rapidly increasing development, especially in the Mattawoman watershed. Early on, CBFO chose to narrow its focus to Charles County, Maryland, rather than the entire Lower Potomac Focus Area, because the CBFO’s goals and priorities relate most directly to land use, and, in Maryland, land use decision-making power lies with county governments.