Southeast Blueprint 2020

Oct 14, 2020 (Last modified Oct 16, 2020)
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Southeast Blueprint 2020

The Southeast Conservation Blueprint is a map of important areas for conservation and restoration across the Southeast and Caribbean. The Blueprint is the primary product of the Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy (SECAS). Through SECAS, diverse partners are working together to design and achieve a connected network of lands and waters that supports thriving fish and wildlife populations and improved quality of life for people.

Extent of Southeast Blueprint 2020

The Southeast Blueprint covers the entire SECAS geography with the exception of the U.S. Virgin Islands, where the appropriate spatial plans have not yet been identified. The SECAS geography encompasses the states and territories that are part of the Southeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, which includes 15 states as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Some of the data used to create the Southeast Blueprint extends beyond the SECAS geography; however, we clipped the Blueprint to the SECAS boundary to make the file download more manageable and to reflect the area where Blueprint user support and partner input are focused.

Input Data

The Blueprint stitches together smaller subregional plans into one consistent map, incorporating the best available information about the current condition of key species and habitats, as well as future threats. The Blueprint is regularly updated and revised to incorporate improvements to the underlying data. Version 2020 of the Southeast Blueprint integrates the following plans:

Mapping Steps to Prepare Inputs

To improve consistency between inputs, we reclassified each input to get as close as possible to 30% of the input data area in “high conservation value” and 20% of the input data area in “medium conservation value”. When priorities were continuous, we used a quantile classification and selected break points. When priorities were discrete, we classified them to get as close as possible to those percentages.

The list below explains the how the priority classes from the input data were translated into the Southeast Blueprint classes of high and medium (if a data value is not shown in the list, then it is not used in the Southeast Blueprint):

Florida Blueprint 1.3:

  • High = Priority 1
  • Medium = Priority 2

South Atlantic Blueprint 2020:

  • High = Highest and High
  • Medium = Medium and Corridors

North Atlantic Nature’s Network:

  • High = Priority 1 and 2
  • Medium = Priority 3

Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (Texas):

  • High = all CHAT rank 1; a subset of CHAT rank 2 with high terrestrial and aquatic scores (aquatic 2 & terrestrial 2, aquatic 2 & terrestrial 3, or aquatic 3 & terrestrial 2)
  • Medium = remainder of CHAT rank 2 with lower terrestrial and aquatic scores

Crucial Habitat Assessment Tool (Oklahoma):

  • High = CHAT rank 1 or 2
  • Medium = CHAT rank 3

Middle South Blueprint:

According to the integration rules below, the Middle Southeast Blueprint is not used where it extends into IL, KS, TX, and OK. To create the exact layer used as the Middle Southeast input to Southeast Blueprint 2020, Middle Southeast Blueprint 2020 was spatially rebalanced across this more limited extent. This helps ensure that the Southeast Blueprint prioritizes closer to 50% of this subset of the Middle Southeast geography. For details about how the specific input layer was computed, contact Middle Southeast Blueprint Science Coordinator, Todd Jones-Farrand (

  • High = “M_SEBcode” value of 1 (high CVI)
  • Medium = “M_SEBcode” value of 2 (medium CVI)

Gulf Hypoxia Blueprint:

We used the sum of priorities for water and conservation interests. This layer was used specifically to fill in a gap in Blueprint prioritization in the Northern part of Missouri. This input covers the full state of Missouri.

  • High = 5 through 8
  • Medium = 4

Caribbean Landscape Conservation Design:

  • High = Top 8 priority ranked watersheds
  • Medium = 9 through 12 priority ranked watersheds

Appalachian NatureScape and TNC Resilient and Connected Landscapes “Prioritized Network”:

In addition to the NatureScape priority classes, we used portions of The Nature Conservancy’s Resilient and Connected Landscapes “Prioritized Network” layer to cover enough area to be consistent with the other inputs (about 50% of the landscape). These two inputs cover a large area; however, we only used them in the portion of the SECAS geography not covered by any other plans.

  • High = NatureScape: Local Cores, Regional Cores, Other Important Areas; TNC Prioritized Network: Resilient Only with Secured Lands (value 33), Resilient Area with Confirmed Diversity (value 12)
  • Medium = Pixels that were not classified as High in the steps above were classified as Medium if they fell in the following areas: NatureScape - Local Connectors, Regional Connectors; TNC Prioritized Network - Climate Corridor (value 2, 4 and 13), Climate Corridor with Confirmed Diversity (value 11), Climate Flow Zone (value 14) and Climate Flow Zone with Confirmed Diversity (value 112)

Florida Marine Blueprint:

  • High = Priority 1 and 2
  • Medium = Priority 3

Mapping Steps to Integrate Inputs

Integration rules

  • Convert each Blueprint input to get as close as possible to 30% high and 20% medium conservation value.
  • For overlap areas, only include an input if known uses of that Blueprint input have occurred in the overlap zone.
  • If an overlap area has no known Blueprint uses for any input, only include the most well established input.

Approach for areas with overlapping inputs

Most of the subregional inputs to the Southeast Blueprint overlap with one or more other inputs to create “overlap zones”. Including multiple inputs in the Blueprint in those overlap zones can make the Blueprint harder to understand and lead to overprioritization. In this version of the Blueprint, we developed rules that minimize the number of areas that use multiple inputs. In some overlap areas, however, the conservation community is already aligning their work around more than one of the Blueprint inputs. In these cases with known uses of multiple Blueprint inputs, we included both inputs.

Reviewing results of integration rules

In older versions of the Southeast Blueprint, three areas had particular problems with overprioritization: Virginia/West Virginia, Texas/Oklahoma, and the Gulf of Mexico. In 2019, we convened teams of local experts in each of these overlap zones to review the potential integration rules. They looked at maps depicting the spatial results of the various integration options and approved the final approach that we continue to use in Blueprint 2020.

Implementation of integration rules

Once each input was spatially rebalanced, it was then resampled to a 30 meter cell size. Inputs were combined to create a seamless Southeast Blueprint 2020 layer using the steps below.

We used the “IntegrationMask” field from the “Input Areas” vector layer to help apply the integration rules.

In areas where IntegrationMask equals 1 (most of the inland Southeast, excluding TX, OK, and the Southern Appalachians), the Florida, South Atlantic, Nature’s Network, Middle Southeast, Gulf Hypoxia and Caribbean inputs were combined using the following rules:

  • If an area was a priority in any of the inputs, it was included.
  • If two inputs disagree on whether an area should be medium or high value, we used the score from the input that has been in development the longest. This favors the most well-established plans. The order of the datasets listed in the “mapping steps to prepare inputs” section above reflect the order of precedence.

In areas where IntegrationMask equals 2 (TX and OK), the CHAT was the only input used.

In areas where IntegrationMask equals 4 (the Southern Appalachians), the Middle Southeast and Appalachian NatureScape and TNC Resilient and Connected Landscapes “Prioritized Network” inputs were combined using the following rules:

  • If an area was a priority in any of the inputs, it was included.
  • If two inputs disagree on whether an area should be medium or high value, we used the score from the input that has been in development the longest. This favors the most well-established plans. The order of the datasets listed in the “mapping steps to prepare inputs” section above reflect the order of precedence.

The Florida Marine Blueprint was only used in places not already covered by the above plans (areas where the IntegrationMask equals 5).

In the Blueprint, we assign a value of “not identified as medium or high” to any pixel not already identified as “high conservation value” or “medium conservation value” that overlaps with the Southeast Blueprint 2020 Input Areas. Southeast Blueprint 2020 Input Areas layer is an imperfect approximation of the analysis extent for each subregional Blueprint input and will continue to be improved over time. Areas outside of the input areas are kept as NoData.

Known issues

  • Open water areas in the Chesapeake Bay and nearshore marine areas of Virginia are underprioritized. There was no available layer depicting where the analysis area ended for Nature’s Network in this area of Virginia. This resulted in some areas that should be NoData classified as 0.
  • Corridors are underprioritized in the western part of the SECAS geography since only the South Atlantic, North Atlantic, Appalachian, and Florida Blueprint inputs formally include corridors. Work is underway in the Middle Southeast (formerly Gulf Coastal Plains and Ozarks) subregion to create a hubs and corridors layer, but the data was not available in time for this Blueprint release.
  • Adaptation to climate change (not related to sea-level rise) is not formally included in the western part of the Southeast Blueprint as only the South Atlantic, North Atlantic, Appalachian, and Florida Blueprint inputs specifically incorporate it.
  • Approaches to addressing urban growth and sea-level rise vary across the different inputs in the Southeast Blueprint. For example, in the Middle Southeast Blueprint, an index of future urbanization reduces the priority. Future sea-level rise either increases or decreases the priority depending on the ecosystem. In the Florida Blueprint, future urban growth does not directly impact priority. Future sea-level rise is addressed through corridors facilitating coastal to inland connectivity developed in Florida CLIP. In the South Atlantic Blueprint, a majority of people felt conservation actions were important in priority areas predicted to change due to urban growth and sea-level rise and did not want to reduce the priority there. Instead of changing the priority, the approach to change is to work together to make sure actions taken based on the Blueprint are the best balance of “high urgency” places predicted to change, and “low risk” places less likely to change. Discussions about how to best integrate strategies for change across the full region are ongoing.
  • Native prairie is underprioritized in Oklahoma and the South Piedmont. This is due to the species used in the Oklahoma CHAT and the difficulty of identifying certain Piedmont prairies with remote sensing.
  • Aquatic species are underprioritized in Oklahoma due to the species used in the Oklahoma CHAT.
  • Blueprint priorities for coastal marshes in Louisiana are higher farther south and closer to the ocean; however, the coastal marsh priorities should probably be higher farther north and farther from the ocean.
  • While the input data from each subregional Blueprint input is intended to identify areas of high and medium conservation value, approaches and methods vary. As a result, specific definitions of “high conservation value” also vary.
  • In the Middle Southeast input to the Southeast Blueprint, an error was made in the spatial rebalancing process. As a result, areas with high aquatic value, but lower terrestrial value, are undervalued across in the final Southeast Blueprint compared to their priority in Middle Southeast Blueprint 2020. This error in the ranking process was discovered too late in the process of finalizing the Southeast Blueprint to be fixed in time for this version. We recommend that anyone in the Middle Southeast geography who wants to use the Blueprint to support their conservation decisions contact user support or use Middle Southeast Blueprint 2020 directly instead of the full Southeast Blueprint.

Contact Blueprint staff

Do you have a question about the Blueprint? Would you like help using the Blueprint to support a proposal or inform a decision? Staff across the Southeast are here to support you!

The Blueprint is also revised based on input from people like you. So if you have a suggestion on how to improve the priorities, let us know!

To get help or provide feedback, reach out to the staff person working in your state:

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2020-10-26 16:02:20 (lastRevision Date), 2020-10-26 04:00:00 (Release Date), 2016-12-01 05:00:00 (The first SE Blueprint was created on this date), 2020-10-26 16:28:10 (Start Date), 2021-10-17 04:00:00 (End Date)
Amy Keister(Point of Contact), Daniel Adams(Point of Contact), Hilary Morris(Point of Contact), Rua Mordecai(Point of Contact), Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy (SECAS)(Point of Contact), 2020-10-26(lastRevision), 2020-10-26(Release), 2016-12-01(creation), Southeast Blueprint 2020,
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Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy (SECAS)
Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy (SECAS)
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About the Uploader

with Southeast Conservation Adaptation Strategy

SECAS is a regional conservation initiative that spans the Southeastern United States and Caribbean. SECAS was started in 2011 by the states of the Southeastern Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies and the federal agencies of the Southeast Natural Resource Leaders Group. The primary product...