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With our colleagues at the USGS, we are creating a new paradigm for drought planning that gives ecological impacts a seat at the table. Our approach recognizes the importance of considering human water use as a driver of ecological responses, and provides mechanisms for identifying feedback loops and situations where the ecological water availability thresholds for nature and people (via key ecosystem services) may differ within a given geography. Teasing apart these and other components of addressing drought risks is helping update natural resource planning and conservation strategy development as the frequency and intensity of droughts continue to increase in the US.