Leo Asuncion welcomes and introduces members and takes roll call.

Members present: Leo Asuncion (HI); Mike Friis (WI); Donald Benczkowski (PA); Brian Lynn (WA); Steven Couture (NH); Kevin Claridge (FL); Ronda Wuycheck (MI); Jill Andrews (GA); Bruce Carlisle ( MA);

Non-EC Members Present: Phillip Hinesley (AL); Maggie Byrne (IN); Becky Prado (FL)

CSO staff present: Mary Munson; Bradley Watson; Grant Williams; John Ryan-Henry

Approval of minutes from February 8, 2017

Steve Couture moves to approve the February minutes. Donald Benczkowski seconds the motion; minutes are approved unanimously.

Overview of Agenda

There is discussion about the upcoming legislative panel. Topics are brought up, and they include general input on legislation and strategic planning.

Discussion follows about the retreat for strategic planning. Date set for May 9 and there will be a facilitator to lead discussions, which will help ensure it is cooperative and a back and forth. Potential to bring in coastal partners for last day to discuss priorities and cooperation. Retreat will be held in South Haven, MI on the southern shore of Lake Michigan.


Mr. Asuncion calls for additional topics to discuss at the legislative briefing to be held the next day.  Topics discussed include strengthening the national coastal management program, working waterfronts, and coral reefs.

The Committee deliberates on CSO’s legislative strategy for the coming year.  Grant Williams reports that the White House is expected to release a “skinny budget” in mid-March, and shares that CSO’s planned budget position is to request $80M for coastal management and $15M for resilience grants. Mr. Asuncion adds that the budget strategy must fit into the organization’s broader strategic plan to empower the CZMA in the long term to become what it is meant to be.

Joint Meeting CSO/NERRA

The Committee welcomes the National Estuarine Research Reserve Association (NERRA) Board for a joint meeting.  Brian Lynn congratulates the Board on the opening of the new NERR in Hawaii and thanks them for their hard work.  Mr. Asuncion thanks NERRA Executive Director Rebecca Roth and President Cory Riley for their collaboration with CSO and looks forward to working together going forward.

Ms. Roth describes NERRA’s budget strategy, including its request for a $4M increase to the NERR program, which would support a graduate student at each site as well as an analyst to enhance capacity sentinel data collection and delivery. Other NERRA Board Members provide further justification and the importance of goals of their request.  The NERRA representatives take questions from CSO members.

Mr. Williams discusses CSO’s budget strategy.  Mr. Asuncion emphasizes the significance of state review of resilience grants.

Mr. Williams updates the Committee on CZM Reauthorization.  Ms. Riley asks whether CSO and NERRA can collaborate on the reauthorization process and Mr. Asuncion agrees that collaboration will be beneficial. Some group discussion on CZMA reauthorization scenarios follow.

Ms. Roth updates the Committee on the Estuaries Caucus.

Ms. Riley introduces the topic of an upcoming National Ocean Service roundtable briefing in April.  Members emphasize the importance of demonstrating the economic value of resilient coasts and natural systems, using specific examples from the states.

Kolo Rathburn, a staff member on the Commerce, Science, and Justice Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, joins the meeting to update the Members on the work of the Subcommittee and ask for feedback.  Topics include potential infrastructure bills, resilience grant consolidation and state review, and budget prioritization.  Mr. Rathburn emphasizes the importance of continuing to stay in contact with House and Senate staff.


Mr. Asuncion thanks the Executive Committee and adjourns the meeting at 12:00 pm.  The next EC meeting is scheduled for March 8th.