Picking up from where we left off. . .
Although an assortment of people tools allow a watershed coordinator to really make a difference in local environmental health, even the best people tools can only do so much to sustain a healthy watershed into the future. Connections with officials, business leaders, science leaders, and community members are essential to a watershed coordinator’s success, but it is also important for a watershed coordinator to be familiar with some more specific tools.
Fearless leader (portrait of volunteer coordinator) by Biking Nikon SFO (Flickr).
Many watershed coordinators work with landowners and land trusts to put conservation easements on private land. A conservation easement is essentially an agreement by a landowner that they will preserve the environment on a portion of their land. Because it allows landowners to choose how and where they will act to protect the environment of their watershed, this method is a great way of fostering the relationships between watershed coordinators, community members, and many business leaders. It is a favorite method of land trusts like the Western Reserve Land Conservancy in Ohio, which can be powerful allies to watershed coordinators.
Similarly, the formation of watershed partnerships, like Colorado’s Purgatoire Watershed Partnership, can be another valuable environmental tool available to watershed coordinators. Strength in numbers is the idea behind a watershed partnership. These community organizations can carry the political clout needed to make a change in states like Colorado, where watersheds are just as much political subdivisions as they are unique habitats for wildlife. A watershed coordinator will frequently lead a watershed partnership in actions to protect his or her watershed for the future.
Sammamish watershed coordinator, via Puget Sound Partnership.
Other community-based watershed protection tools include crowdfunding sites like Creeklife (oh hey, that’s us!) where geographical boundaries don’t limit community members’ ability to raise awareness and money for watershed preservation efforts. Community networking sites can be valuable to pragmatic watershed coordinators, who need both money and manpower to clean up and protect their watersheds.
The challenges that watershed coordinators must face are as extensive the waters of the United States–and Canada, for good measure. As industry, agriculture, and human dwelling spaces expand into the twenty-first century, watershed coordinators do a job that is more important than ever before. Fortunately, the tools that watershed coordinators need to do their important jobs are already available within their watersheds’ communities.
MCWCC watershed coordinator Kara Scheerhorn with friend Mary Scully, via Mill Creek Watershed Council of Communities.
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Posted by Mark Contorno.