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Environmental Assessment

Ecological Research Multi-Year Plan

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The Office of Research and Development (ORD) has initiated a multi-year planning effort to plan the direction of our research program in selected topic areas over five or more years. This approach promotes ORD's focus on the highest priority issues and provides coordination for achieving our research goals. The focus of this effort is the development of Multi-Year Plans (MYPs).

Cover of the Ecological Research Multi-Year Plan.The purpose of the MYPs is to provide a framework that integrates research across ORD's laboratories and centers and Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) goals in support of the Agency's mission to protect human health and the environment. The MYPs identify long-term goals, and present annual performance goals (APGs) and associated annual performance measures (APMs) for a planning window of approximately 5-10 years. By helping to identify the impact of potential annual planning decisions, MYPs aid in the evaluation of research options. MYPs also foster the integration of strategic risk-based environmental protection and anticipation of future environmental issues by communicating our research approach and timing for responding to environmental issues. MYPs are intended to be living documents and are updated as needed to reflect the current state of the science, resource availability, and Agency priorities.

MYPs include two major components: (1) a narrative description of the plan, and (2) a matrix of goals and measures. The narrative provides an introduction and background to the topic of the plan, describes the long-term goals, provides the logic/thinking used to array performance goals to achieve long-term goals, and describes the integration between goals and organizations. The matrix is used to indicate annual goals and measures needed to meet the long-term goals identified in the plan. These goals and measures are arrayed across time (i.e., fiscal years) and laboratories/centers and are based on total annual resource levels for the MYP topic area that will not exceed the resource level proposed in the most recent President's Budget.

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Background

EPA is focusing on strengthening our scientific basis to adequately assess and compare risks to ecosystems, to protect and restore them, and to track progress in terms of ecological outcomes. Global climate change, loss and destruction of habitat due to sprawl and exploitation of natural resources, invasive species, non-point source pollution, and the accumulation and interaction of these effects present emerging ecological problems. We will emphasize (1) monitoring ecosystem conditions that reflect the scale of the problem and need for action, the causes of harm, and the success of mitigation and restoration efforts; and (2) developing models and protocols to help diagnose the causes of ecosystem degradation and forecast future conditions. Additionally, efforts focus on developing risk assessment techniques that quantify and compare current and future ecosystem risks and developing cost-effective, stakeholder-driven restoration and protection strategies. The Agency has established four long-term goals for this effort. The long-term goals established in this MYP are:

1. The states and tribes use a common monitoring design and appropriate ecological indicators: to determine the status and trends of ecological resources.
2. Managers and researchers understand links between human activities, natural dynamics, ecological stressors and ecosystem condition.
3. Environmental managers have the tools to predict multi-stressor effects on ecological resources to assess vulnerability and manage for sustainability.
4. Managers have scientifically defensible methods to protect and restore ecosystem condition.

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