Water: Healthy Watersheds
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Public and stakeholder support, education, and outreach are critical to maintaining healthy watersheds into the future. Local communities, landowners, businesses, and the public all have a role to play and a stake in services provided by healthy aquatic ecosystems and their supporting watersheds. Often, it is important to demonstrate the economic link to sustaining these resources. But ultimately, changing behavior to minimize impacts to the environment and living sustainably will be required to protect and maintain healthy watersheds. Various outreach and education tools are available to succeed in delivering these messages and instilling stewardship.
On this Page:
- EPA Watershed Outreach and Education Resources
- Examples of Other Outreach and Education Resources
- Additional Outreach Tools
EPA Watershed Outreach and Education Resources
In 2010, EPA released the third edition of Getting in Step: A Guide for Conducting Watershed Outreach Campaigns (PDF) (178 pp, 5.34 MB)
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 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.
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 half an 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.
Examples of Other Outreach and Education 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.
Responsive Management Water Resources Reports
This site contains several reports that describe efforts to integrate public survey results into water resource management planning. Examples include Americans’ Knowledge of and Attitudes Toward Water and Water-Related Issues and Opinions on and Behaviors Affecting Water Issues in the Appoquinimink River Watershed Among Watershed Residents.
Ohio Watershed Network
The Ohio Watershed Network was formed to provide communities and natural resource managers with the information they need to effectively protect water resources and their ecosystem services. The Network offers courses, events, and forums, and provides a network for watershed groups.
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.
Engaging Oregonians in Conservation: Strategy Outreach, Conservation Education and Fish and Wildlife-Based Tourism (PDF) (8 pp, 1.61 MB)
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.
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.
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.
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 setbacks 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.
Additional Outreach Tools
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, 7.17 MB)
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.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting a Social Profile for Watershed Planning (PDF) (96 pp, 2.07 MB)
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.