White Sands Missile Range Commander Brig. Gen. Timothy Coffin and Strategy and Long-Range Plans Director Dan Hicks attended the Western Regional Partnership Principals meeting Aug. 11 and 12 at the University of Nevada in Reno.
The annual event consists of a two-day meeting with the focus on military readiness, wildlife sustainability, and energy and water management with over 125 federal, state and tribal leaders, that includes other participants.
WRP was developed in 2007 when federal agencies partnered with the Department of Defense. Since 2007, WRP has been providing a proactive and collaborative framework for senior level policy for federal, state and tribal leadership, to identify common goals and emerging issues in the states of Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and most recently Colorado. The partnership also helps to develop solutions in support of WRP partners, while protecting natural resources, promoting sustainability, homeland security and military readiness.
“The conversations at these meetings are critical for us to better understand one another’s missions and how we can think differently about working together on shared interests now and for issues 30 years into the future,” said WRP chairperson John Conger.
Coffin and Hicks were among Department of Defense senior leaders present at the meeting that included leaders from the Department of the Interior, and the Department of Agriculture. Also in attendance were representatives from six western state governors’ offices and state agencies, tribal leaders, and representatives from other federal agencies.
During the two-day meeting, panelists presented updates on priority topics they have been working on throughout the year, which included the delivery of 10 reports and two fact sheets. The meeting was separated into committees and panels.
Military Readiness, Homeland Security, Disaster Preparedness, and the Aviation Committee presented updates and changes for Aviation efforts in the region, including responses to wildfires, safety, and UAVs. The Military Readiness panel focused on the defense mission in the WRP Region addressing new requirements, increasing unmanned aviation operations, and frequency spectrum as discussed by National Guard, Air Force Southern and Defense Readiness leaders. The Energy Committee presented panelists from the Department of Energy, Bureau of Land Management, Western Electricity Coordinating Council and Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy, which discussed renewable energy and transmission developments.
“Everyone’s job touches others and we need to understand one another’s missions and perspectives,” Conger said.
The Natural Resources Committee focused their work on two major areas; a panel comprised of leaders from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, while the Nevada Department of Wildlife discussed collaborative environmental planning and best practices for Species Management. Another panel highlighted efforts working Water, Drought Planning and Wildfire Management with leaders from the Western Governors’ Association, Environmental Protection Agency, California Governor’s Office and Department of Interior.
“I’m a big believer that communication and collaboration leads to better decisions. Forums like these WRP meetings are very effective for talking through issues of concern to all partners affected,” said WRP chairperson Janice Schneider.
The collaborative work done throughout the past year by the people working day-to-day throughout partners’ agencies and groups, through the WRP Committees was also highlighted during the meeting. In addition to working projects, hundreds of participants were involved in the WRP’s active exchange of up-to-date data, trends, and best practices shared through numerous webinars on various topics this past year.
“The value in these types of conferences, is being able to network with key leaders,” Hicks said.
WRP chairpersons; Mike Mower, representing Gary Herbert, the governor of Utah; Conger, who is also interim assistant secretary of Defense; and Schneider, the Land and Minerals Management assistant secretary, emphasized the importance of ongoing dialogue to address shared interests in current and future issues.
Hicks said he and Coffin were able to meet with several key leaders who will be key to WSMR’s response to environmental challenges in the future.
“The return on investment for attending this conference are strong partnerships amongst the military and civilian leaders that will sustain not only the WSMR mission set into the future, but also DoD,” Hicks said.
Looking ahead to priorities for the WRP into 2016 and longer term, Conger, Schneider and Mower summarized the importance of continuing to focus on missions and work as partners.
They also highlighted the collaborative partnership work where implementation is important at the WRP level and in helping everyone be most effective in their “day job.”
“This annual meeting positions us to go and continue to do good work together,” Schneider said.
“It’s important in these changing times to continue to be proactive in discussing and identifying shared interests in this region,” Mower said in his closing remarks.
The 2016 Principals’ meeting will be hosted by the state of Utah. Participants closed out this year’s meeting with plans for ongoing collaborative project work that will continue through the working committees toward WRP’s work of producing reliable outcomes for America’s Defense, Energy, Environment and Infrastructure in the West.
For more information register at www.wrpinfo.org.