The first National Conference for Ecosystem Restoration was held in Orlando, FL in 2004. Since that time the biennial National Conference has been held in Kansas City, MO (2007), Los Angeles, CA (2009), Baltimore, MD (2011) and Chicago, IL (2013).
The National Conference has grown through the years and now brings together nearly 1,000 scientists, engineers, policy makers, planners, and partners from across the country that are actively involved in ecosystem restoration. It is an interdisciplinary conference presenting state-of-the art science and engineering, planning and policy in a partnership environment.
Recommendations from the National Research Council and the US Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Advisory Board stress the need for leadership in the ecosystem restoration arena in order to achieve success for the large scale ecosystem restoration programs across the United States. In addition, attendees at past National Conferences on Ecosystem Restoration requested some form of collaboration bridging our biennial conferences.
The concept of a National Coalition for Ecosystem Restoration was initially launched at the National Conference for Ecosystem Restoration 2009. Two feedback forums held during NCER 2009 were the leadership summit and the closing plenary session. In addition, a questionnaire was distributed to the entire list of NCER attendees to obtain feedback. The concept was also presented at the Annual American Water Resources Conference in November 2009 and the Greater Everglades Ecosystem Restoration Conference 2010.
First and foremost based upon all the feedback we have received, we changed the name to the National “Community” for Ecosystem Restoration and altered the original conceptual model to the following:
The non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) officially launched America’s Great Waters Coalition in December 2009 at the US Capitol Visitors Center. The Coalition works to secure needed long-term federal funding commitments as well as a comprehensive policy for the restoration of many of America’s large aquatic ecosystems. To manifest this vision, the Great Waters Coalition is focusing on the following goals:
- Make the restoration of our great waters a national priority;
- Secure sustainable dedicated funding for restoration;
- Ensure sound implementation of restoration.
The key here is that the National Community for Ecosystem Restoration will complement and not duplicate the Great Waters Coalition efforts.
NCER’s two initial goals were to:
- Link all ongoing ecosystem restoration efforts and fill recognized knowledge transfer and communication gaps;
- Help enable a collaborative and holistic life-cycle approach to ecosystem restoration.
Approximately 50 volunteers who are national senior leaders in the field of ecosystem restoration have been working very diligently since the National Conference in 2009 to take the National Community for Ecosystem Restoration to the next level. Mission, Implementation and Governance sub-teams were created and actively engaged in our our next steps.
In September 2010 NCER representatives were invited to meet with the SER Board. A three page concept paper was prepared and was the premise for the discussion. The meeting concluded with an agreement that there were additional details to be worked thru and a joint team would prepare a white paper for consideration by NCER and SER membership. This white paper was presented at the National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration in 2011 and gained support to move forward with becoming a Section within SER. Two years later, this vision became a reality and the Large-scale Ecosystem Restoration Section (LERS) was approved and created by the SER Board of Directors.