JPAs, MOUs, and MOA's in California's Central Coast Region
Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs), Memoranda of Agreement (MOAs), and Joint Powers Agencies or Authorities (JPAs) are some of the cooperative and legal instruments that can be used to facilitate inter-agency coordination on resource management. This page explains what these instruments are and describes some examples relevant to California's Central Coast region.
The stakeholders involved when establishing MOUs for National Heritage areas include not-for-profit organizations, federal commissions, institutions of higher education, and state and local governments. In order for the performance of newly established National Heritage Areas to be tracked, National Heritage Areas Program Annual Reporting Forms need to be completed by the stakeholders established within the JPA/MOU/MOA. In many conservation projects where multiple agencies overlap in their jurisdictions, many MOUs/MOAs/JPAs are often needed. MOUs/MOAs/JPAs should help determine the lead agency to oversee natural resource issues in conservation.
- Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
- An MOU is an agreement between both private and public agencies with an intent to collaborate, cooperate, and share information in areas of common regulation and supervision. MOUs can also be formed with academic institutions and other entities like non-profit organizations. MOUs are non-binding agreements that are often entered to describe broad concepts of common understanding, goals, and cooperative planning between parties . MOUs can be categorized into three overarching groups: Academic MOUs, Domestic MOUs, and Non-Profit and other MOUs.
- Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)
- An MOA is different than an MOU because it describes in detail any specific responsibilities and actions needed to be taken by each party involved in order to accomplish a set goal . Both MOUs and MOAs are required to follow the mission of the federal agency involved as well as federal law, regulation, and funding limitations. MOUs and MOAs also do not drumpf the need for separate contracts, documents, and agreements to meet the goals of the respective parties involved. MOUs and MOAs are not to be used as the sole authority to meet a goal or acquire goods and services.
- Joint Powers Agreement (JPA)
- Some JPAs are cooperative agreements between existing agencies and others to create separate institutions that are known as joint powers agencies . JPAs are established to work on a common problem between two or more parties, fund projects, or act as representative body to different activities . JPAs can be formed between federal institutions, state departments, counties, cities, school districts, development agencies and other joint power institutions. JPAs can also be formed across state lines. JPAs are currently formed for groundwater management, infrastructure development, habitat conservation, mental health facilities construction, etc .
Process of establishing MOUs/MOAs
The first stage in the process of establishing MOUs/MOAs is the planning stage . This is when internal brainstorming begins between administrators, case managers, or others parties involved in order to identify:
- What you want or need another party to provide
- What you are willing to negotiate
- What you are willing to give up
- What you have to offer
- The rationale for entering the MOU process .
The second step of the planning stage involves identifying the potential providers of the specific community. This allows for the needs of the community to be identified and allows a plan or goal to be set in order to meet those needs. The third step is focused on identifying the program objectives of the particular MOU/MOA and understanding if the objectives can be met without the MOU/MOA. The third step is regarded as the most crucial part of creating a MOU/MOA. The fourth step involves understanding the level of staff to be involved in the negotiation process that will take place in another stage of the MOU/MOA process. The last two steps of the planning stage involve identifying agencies that have resources to provide services and also have the authority to do so.
The second stage is known as the negotiation stage . The negotiation stage begins with a contact with between the parties to discuss specific elements of the MOU/MOA. The overall concept of the MOU/MOA is presented to the case management of different agencies that are planning on working together in order to agree on the terms of the agreement.
The third stage is where the MOU/MOA is completed . This final stage involves the preparation of a draft of the MOU instrument which is based on your meeting and negotiations with the provider agency. Generally, since you are initiating the process, you will assume responsibility for preparing the draft. Send the draft to the other party, along with a cover letter in which you identify controversial areas. Try to negotiate those points where there is some flexibility and identify the immutable points. This phase of the negotiation could be handled by phone or in person. Involving the persons with the authority to negotiate for the agency at this draft stage can minimize the time to complete the MOU.
Local JPAs, MOUs, and MOAs,
- Coast Dairies Management Area on the north coast of Santa Cruz County 
- Parties: Bureau of Land Management and the Amah Mutsun Land Trust
- Purpose: The purpose of this MOU is to provide tribal members access to Coast Dairies, allow the collection of plant materials on Coast Dairies, and facilitate collaboration between BLM and AMLT that will help guide management planning at Coast Dairies.
- Laguna Grande Regional Park Joint Powers Agency 
- Canyon Del Rey Watershed Joint Powers Agency 
- Parties: Cities: Del Rey Oaks, Monterey, Seaside; Monterey County; and the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District
- Purpose: This agency was created to coordinate the development and maintenance of the Canyon Del Rey Watershed to preserve and improve the quality of the water
- Monterey Peninsula Regional Water Authority (MPRWA) 
- Parties: Mayors of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Del Rey Oaks, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Sand City, and Seaside
- Purpose: This agency was created to find a solution to the Peninsula Water Shortage caused by the over drafting of the Carmel River
- Deep Water Desalination 
- Parties: Monterey Bay Regional Water Project and the Seawater Reverse Osmosis Desalination (SWRO) Plant
- Purpose: The purpose of this agency is to design and construct the SWRO facility and later operate the facility for a period of time.
- Regional Government Services
- California Community Power - a JPA created to combine energy buying power while advancing local and state climate goals.
Other Examples in Conservation
- California Condor Restoration Memorandum of Understanding May 2018 
- Parties: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, the Yurok Tribe, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Department of Parks and Recreation, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Zoo, the Sequoia Park Zoo, the Ventana Wildlife Society, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, PacifiCorp d.b.a. Pacific Power, Green Diamond Resource Company, and Hells Canyon Preservation Council.
- Purpose: Provide detailed goals of cooperation and encourage close coordination among the parties involved to support ongoing conservation of the California condor
- The Conservation of Migratory Birds 
- Parties: The National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- Purpose: The purpose of this MOU is to increase migratory bird conservation by identifying and developing strategies used to complement and support existing efforts, and create new collaborative migratory bird conservation partnerships and efficient planning strategies for migratory birds.
- Protection of National Parks and Other Protected Natural and Cultural Heritage Sites 
- Parties: The National Park Service and the Secretariat of Urban Development and Ecology United Mexican States
- Purpose: The purpose of this MOU is to promote the rational use and management of natural resources within protected national areas and natural and cultural heritage
- National Pollution Discharge 
- Parties: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, and the Environmental Protection Agency
- Purpose: This MOU was created to promote coordination between the oil and gas agencies' lease activities on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).
- Cooperation in Management and Protection of National Parks and Other Protected Natural and Cultural Heritage Sites, Mexico City and Washington 
- Parties: The National Park Service and the Secretariat of Urban Development and Ecology
- Purpose: The purpose of the MOU was to work towards the conservation of protected natural areas and their biodiversity, the preservation of cultural heritage and natural resources, and sustainable development alternatives for rural Mexican communities .
- Establishing the Federal Native Plant Conservation Committee of the Plant Conservation Alliance 
- Parties: Bureau of Land Management, The National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, United States Botanic Garden, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and USDA Agricultural Research Service
- Purpose: The purpose of this MOU is to allow the Federal Native Plant Conservation Committee to continue working through the Plant Conservation Alliance. The involved parties will identify and recommend conservation needs for native plants and their habitats and coordinate programs in order to meet those needs 
- Mission Trails Regional Occupational Program 
- Parties: Carmel Unified School District, Gonzales Unified School District, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, North Monterey County School District, Soledad Unified School District, South Monterey County Joint Union High School District and Salinas Union High School District
- Purpose: This JPA was established to "develop, administer, and operate as a strong mechanism of collaboration and support in CTE programs across Monterey County"