Water: Healthy Watersheds
Changing behavior through education and developing responsible attitudes among watershed citizens and communities is an essential component of the Healthy Watersheds concept. Efforts to protect and conserve our healthy watersheds will fail without stakeholder participation and cooperation. In 2003, EPA released Getting in Step: A Guide For Conducting Watershed Outreach Campaigns (PDF) (136 pp, 3.27MB, About PDF) (EPA 2003). The guide presents key principles, techniques, and information for effective watershed outreach. Watershed managers are encouraged to read this guide, as it will help you understand the audiences in your watershed, create messages that resonate with them, find appropriate ways to communicate your message, and prompt changes in behavior to reduce negative impacts to our natural ecosystems. The guide also provides the tools needed to develop and implement an effective public outreach campaign.
EPA’s Nonpoint Source Outreach Toolbox also contains a wealth of information and resources for watershed outreach campaigns including: guides; ready-made logos, slogans, and mascots; surveys and evaluations; and TV, radio, and print ads. Permission for use has been granted by most of the content developers.
Examples of Conservation Outreach and Education Programs
Baltimore County Forest Sustainability Program: Linking Communities to the Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators
The Montreal Process Criteria and Indicators provides a framework that addresses social, economic, and ecological aspects of sustainable forest management. Baltimore County is a pilot application of this framework and the program has allowed diverse stakeholders with varied interests to understand the many ecosystem services provided by sustainably managed forests. Because stakeholders were involved in the process from the beginning and the program incorporates not only conservation objectives, but social and economic objectives as well, a greater level of support has been generated for the program.
Healthy Rivers: A Water Course
Healthy Rivers is an online, multimedia tool to understand the ecology, management, and stewardship of river and stream systems. The Healthy Rivers program explains natural structure and function of river systems using a five-component framework of flow, shape, connections, quality, and life. Six case studies examine the history of river use and provide a basis for a future vision of water resource management. A section explores the true value of river system goods and services, which leads to inspiring examples of local leaders and practical, action-oriented ideas for next steps that each of us can take toward healthier water resources.
Project NEMO (Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials)
The National NEMO Network is a confederation of 32 educational programs in 31 states dedicated to protecting natural resources through better land use and land use planning. It uses geographic information system (GIS) technology to educate landowners and municipal officials about nonpoint source pollution and watershed protection. Each program is patterned after the original NEMO Program developed at the University of Connecticut, but has been adapted to reflect each state’s unique character, priorities, geography, and issues. These programs have joined together to create a unique national network to share information, educational methods, and technical tools across state and agency lines.
Stewardship Incentives: Conservation Strategies for Oregon’s Working Landscape
This report helps landowners understand the many incentives available for conservation actions, including regulatory relief, direct financial assistance, and market-based incentives.
The Bear Creek Watershed Protection Overlay District
The citizens of Cannon Township, just north of Grand Rapids, Michigan realized that development pressures were threatening Bear Creek in the early 1990s. In addition to a stormwater ordinance and a site ranking system for new development, the township created the Bear Creek Watershed Protection Overlay District. This overlay district requires vegetation throughout the stream corridors and septic system set backs from streams and tributaries. This level of protection would not have been possible without the level of community support and active involvement of the citizens of Cannon Township.
Engaging Oregonians in Conservation: Strategy Outreach, Conservation Education and Fish and Wildlife-Based Tourism
This report from the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife details objectives and opportunities in conservation education, fish and wildlife-based tourism, and human dimensions research in Oregon. These approaches help to link people with their natural communities.
Additional Outreach Tools
The Ohio Watershed Network, a statewide information and education network in support of local watershed protection efforts, maintains an online Watershed Toolshed which includes the module “Planning a Watershed Education Program.” The module provides guidance for developing a watershed education program targeting specific audiences to help them make informed decisions to protect water quality. The Network also provides a listing of watershed groups in Ohio, the Ohio Watershed Academy, and other resources and references.
National Extension for Water Outreach Education
Whether planning a new outreach effort or revitalizing an existing one, incorporating best education practices (BEPs) into your water management strategies is critical for achieving success. Web site resources help educators to: connect the situation with the people, choose achievable goals, select relevant outreach techniques, and get measurable results.
The River Network provides a variety of resources available to watershed managers for involving people in aquatic resource management. Guidebooks, trainings, and networking opportunities are some of the resources available.
Getting Your Feet Wet with Social Marketing: A Social Marketing Guide for Watershed Programs (PDF) (143 pp, 7.17MB, About PDF)
This social marketing guide, available from the State of Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, is specifically aimed at training watershed managers to use the principles of social marketing to promote behavior change that will improve watershed health and water quality.
Watershed Academy Web
Through the Watershed Academy Web, EPA offers a variety of self-paced training modules that represent a basic and broad introduction to the watershed management field. Modules take 1⁄2 hour to 2 hours to complete. Courses include Top Ten Watershed Lessons Learned, Introduction to the Clean Water Act and Wetland Functions.
Community Culture and the Environment: A Guide to Understanding a Sense of Place
Developed by EPA, this guide provides a process and set of tools for defining and understanding the social and cultural aspects of community-based environmental protection.
The National Watershed Library
The National Watershed Library lists many education and outreach tools for specific audiences like farmers, homeowners, and teachers.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Social Profile for Watershed Planning (PDF) <broken link> (96 pp, 2.07MB, About PDF)
This free guidebook provides a detailed methodology for assessing social issues that should be addressed in any watershed management plan or conservation activity. A social profile is a collection of baseline data that describes characteristics of a community or people in a defined area. This collection of data profiles human life in the community by describing (a) land use and ownership; (b) economic vitality; (c) community capacity; (d) governmental and political structures; and (e) public attitudes. The purpose of the social profile is to provide data and information for a reasonable summary of social issues in the watershed management plan that ultimately leads to more informed decisions by the watershed planning committee.