Statewide Watershed Management Effects on Local Watershed Groups: A Comparison of Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Virginia
Gorder, Joel Steven
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While there are no federal mandates for states to establish watershed management frameworks, many states see the benefits of doing so and have established such approaches. The main advantage of statewide watershed management over traditional resource management is the cost effectiveness and the formation of integrated solutions to water quality problems. Statewide watershed frameworks provide a geographic focus and partnerships in order to develop comprehensive solutions to water quality problems. Watershed management depends on the participation of the local community and its organizations. Local watershed groups formed within in the community become integral members of these partnerships because of their vested interest in the watershed. Federal, state, and local governments recognize the functions that watershed groups serve, and how important they are in developing guiding principles for the watersheds. However, since watershed management at the state level is relatively new and constantly evolving, the exact roles of where watershed groups fit into this framework and the amount of technical, educational, and financial support given to them is not yet fully defined. Because this relationship is not clearly defined, watershed groups often encounter obstacles that may inhibit them from reaching their full potential. There are six common factors shown to be effective in fostering the relationship between the states and local watershed groups. These include: having one central agency in charge of coordinating watershed management activities, state funding support for local watershed groups, state support for research, experimentation, and pilot projects, state facilitation of technical assistance and support, state support for public education on water quality issues, open forums where all stakeholders can voice their concerns and opinions. This paper outlines the watershed management framework of three states: Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Virginia. It explores the question: What educational, political, and financial assistance do these states offer in order to create a collaborative environment in which grassroot watershed groups have the capacity to make informed decisions affecting the outcome of their watershed? This paper evaluates each state on how well they have incorporated the six common factors into their watershed frameworks.
- Masters Theses