The Scorecard: Every few years, the Nevada Natural Heritage Program conducts an extensive review and synthesis of the accumulated information from its databases, files, and knowledgeable staff and contacts, and compiles a working list of the highest-priority conservation sites for at-risk species within the state. Highest-priority sites are those that currently require new management and/or protection actions to successfully conserve a significant assemblage of at-risk species, and to prevent the loss of one or more species or populations at that site during the next 1-2 years. We then invite biologists, land managers, and other knowledgeable individuals from throughout the region to meet and share further review, information, and recommendations for incorporation into the final published list. Both this process and the resulting list are referred to as a Natural Heritage "Scorecard." (scroll down or jump to Frequently Asked Questions for further information.)
The most recent scorecard meeting was held on 3 November 2005 in Carson City. Biologists, land management and conservation professionals, and others familiar with Nevada's at-risk species and habitats provided much valuable information and feedback, significantly revising the October 2005 draft. Publication of the final version is expected in 2006. Thank you to all who attended and gave of your time and expertise, and to the many more people and organizations who shared information and supported our efforts over the past two years and beyond. Your contributions to wise conservation planning in Nevada are widely used and greatly appreciated.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ) about the Natural Heritage Scorecard:
What is a conservation site? For purposes of the Natural Heritage Scorecard, a conservation site is the landscape unit defined by occurrences of at-risk species that are appropriately managed as a unit based on common biological, land-ownership, and conservation-planning criteria.
What processes and criteria are used to develop the scorecard, and to determine which sites are of highest conservation priority? The Nevada Natural Heritage Program ranks over 600 of Nevada's most vulnerable native animals and plants on a scale from 1 to 5 based on their vulnerability to loss or destruction, with 1 the most vulnerable and 5 the most secure. On a daily basis, as occurrence records of these species are added to our databases, these vulnerability ranks are reviewed, and each occurrence is tentatively assigned to a "conservation site" (see above). The scorecard process begins by reviewing all at-risk species occurrence records in the state, currently numbering over 6000, using manual and automated methods, to determine which sites contain the greatest number and diversity of occurrences of relatively vulnerable species. This results in a Biodiversity Significance Rank from 1 to 5 for each site, with 1 the most significant and 5 the least significant. These sites are reviewed further to ensure that all contained occurrences are assigned to the most appropriate site, and the process to this point is then repeated as necessary. Once stable site definitions and Biodiversity Significance Ranks are obtained, these sites are reviewed by the entire Heritage Program staff using their collective biological knowledge and field experience, data from the Program's files, and an extensive network of expert contacts. Each site so far identified is then further ranked according to its Protection Urgency and Management Urgency, again on scales from 1 to 5 with 1 being the most urgent. Those sites that rank highest (i.e., have the lowest numeric sum) for the combination of Biodiversity Significance, Protection Urgency, and Management Urgency, then become the working list of highest-priority conservation sites. (Click on the links for each ranking criterion to see more detailed definitions of each rank). We then send the draft list to Biologists, land management and conservation professionals, and other knowledgeable people throughout the region for review, and invite them to meet with us to share further feedback, information, and recommendations. To the extent consistent with Natural Heritage Program methodology, this feedback is incorporated into the final published scorecard. The scorecard is published in printed form and on this web site, and the entire process is repeated every 2-4 years.
Why is it called a scorecard? The scorecard process is used by Heritage Programs nationwide as a way to "keep score" of the successes, failures, and current needs of at-risk species conservation in each state. In general, sites that move from higher to lower priority between scorecards (or drop off the scorecard entirely) may be considered conservation successes, because their management and protection needs have been addressed to some degree. Sites that move from lower to higher priority represent the most urgent current conservation needs, and have the potential to become conservation "failures" if they remain on several successive scorecards while their at-risk species become further imperiled, threatened, endangered, or are lost.