Our goal in initiating a watershed management plan for the Little Manistee River is to help the community manage an important public resource by understanding the resource and coming to a consensus about its’ future. The Steering Committee’s job is to help drive the creation and completion of the plan. The entire community determines the content of the plan and what it does.
A watershed plan is a strategy and a work plan for achieving water resource goals that provides assessment and management information for a geographically defined watershed. It includes the analyses, actions, participants, and resources related to development and implementation of the plan. The watershed planning process uses a series of cooperative, iterative steps to characterize existing conditions, identify and prioritize problems, define management objectives, and develop and implement protection or remediation strategies as necessary.
The main components (or chapters) in a watershed plan include:
1. Public Concerns
2. Watershed Inventory – includes water quality, physical, and social data
3. Problem Identification
4. Identify Sources of Problems
5. Selection of Critical Areas
6. Set Goals and Objectives
7. Measure Success
8. Update as Conditions Change
The primary purpose of a watershed management plan is to guide watershed coordinators, resource managers, policy makers, and community organizations to restore and protect the quality of lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands in a given watershed. The plan is intended to be a practical tool with specific recommendations on practices to improve and sustain water quality.
Another purpose the plan is used extensively for is to seek grants from government, businesses, organizations, private foundations, and individuals to develop and implement the plan. To do that most effectively we will be following Federal and State Criteria detailed below that give us the ability to present an approved plan with our requests for funding. Requirements for approved plans vary between sources of funding, however, watersheds with approved plans generally have a distinct advantage and in some cases the approved plan is a requirement. The larger the amount we are applying for, the more likely an approved plan will be necessary. Federal and State Criteria are more process based than solution based. They provide a process for the community to follow to analyze the status of the watershed and reach consensus based decisions on problems, goals and objectives. A fundamental requirement that supports the credibility and viability of any approved watershed management plan is that it demonstrates it includes a broad base of stakeholders throughout the community and the decisions were reached through a consensus of those stakeholders. These are also “living documents”, as conditions change over time in a watershed, the plan must be reexamined and revised to reflect goals that have been achieved or not met.
What Guidelines Will We Use for Developing a Watershed Management Plan?
The Little Manistee River Watershed Management Plan is being developed to fully meet both EPA Clean Water Act Section 319 Criteria and Michigan DEQ Clean Michigan Initiative (CMI) Bond Program Criteria for watershed management plans.
A description of these criteria can be seen on the DEQ’s website: http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,4561,7-135-3313_51002_3682_3714-69714–,00.html