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Planning to Reach Out

Posted on Wednesday, January 15th, 2020 | Posted in iWR-1-20

Planning, engagement, and planning for engagement, bear fruit at place-based programs around the region.

Scientific reports and long-term plans are the foundation for future work.

3 students clustered around a thermometer

A scene from The Day in the Life of the Hudson and Harbor, an annual engagement event, on October 22. chris bowser/hrnerr

Champlain

The network of local and watershed groups in the Champlain basin are still using the Lake Champlain Basin Program’s 2018 State of the Lake report as a resource to inform research and outreach.

The report is the basis for a new exhibit at the Lake Champlain Resource Room in ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain.

The exhibit includes a new Lake News “studio,” where visitors can record one of six pre-scripted lake news stories that report on water quality and ecosystem health issues addressed in the State of the Lake.

WCAX, a local television station, produced public service announcements and video content to accompany the reports, with lead-ins by WCAX news anchors. ECHO guests can receive their videos by email.

The mock news studio is accompanied by graphic exhibit panels that provide more detail about lake issues.

The LCBP and ECHO worked with WCAX News to develop the new exhibit.

Peconic

At the eastern tip of Long Island, the Peconic Estuary Program has completed the lengthy series of public workshops and stakeholder meetings to write its next Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) for the program and the watershed.

This planning effort has a ten-year horizon. It identifies both environmental challenges and opportunities for collaboration and outreach to community organizations. These include local governments and the federally recognized Shinecock Indian Nation.

The planning process has produced a raft of ideas for greater visibility and engagement, including a biennial Peconic Estuary conference. The program is also considering a name change to emphasize its local partnerships.

Narragansett

The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program has already held two public meetings as part of its CCMP process. The next meeting is planned for February 20 in Rhode Island.

Other public events for a plan for the bi-state watershed program will be held in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Both the Narragansett and Peconic programs are national estuary programs accredited by the EPA. This status gives them access to certain federal funds, and requires them to work closely with stakeholder groups—and to write a CCMP every ten years.

The work of the NBEP and its partners continues to be informed by the State of the Narragansett Bay and Its Watershed, a 500-page technical report that the NBEP completed two years ago.

Recently, the program created “A Landscape of Change,” a web-based story map that presents some of the work of State of the Bay.

Where the technical report delves into the health of the watershed as expressed by 24 environmental indicators, the CCMP will lay out new plans and institutional goals for the next decade.

Long Island Sound

The Long Island Sound Study is also a national estuary program, but unlike the Narragansett and Peconic programs, only some of its staff—four—are NEIWPCC employees. Three of them will be directly involved in an update to that program’s CCMP, which will occur every 5 years in its 20-year life.

This process is not as extensive or public facing as that for new CCMPs. However, in 2020 LISS plans to publish a progress report on the 139 “implementation actions” identified in its 2015 CCMP.

Hudson River

The Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve is a different breed of nationally accredited program, with different requirements. The reserve published its own five-year plan in December

The plan’s ambitious goals include research, stewardship and restoration of Reserve properties, public outreach, and giving resource managers “enhanced capacity to protect, manage, and restore floodplain, shoreline, watershed, and river habitats.”

Several NEIWPCC members of the Reserve’s staff contributed to the plan.

Across the region, people and programs committed to preserving and improving water resources are engaged in cycles of planning. The cycles never end, but the planning makes progress possible, and is a hopeful act.

iWR • January 2020 • To front page

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