Assessing NC’s Watershed Programs
In 2012, we partnered with Watershed Education for Communities and Officials, the Water Resources Research Institute (WRRI), the Division of Water Resources in the NC Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) and the Triangle J Council of Governments to better understand the state’s diverse watershed programs and associated resources. The study team compiled a database of more than 550 programs and individuals focused on watershed protection in North Carolina, the first comprehensive, statewide database of watershed programs of its kind. Programs with paid staff were then surveyed, with a total of 161 respondents representing 143 programs.
The results of this needs assessment are captured in the report, An Assessment of Capacity and Resource Needs of North Carolina Watershed Programs. Input from watershed volunteers was collected in a second phase, using focus groups and an online survey. Initially, a series of informal focus groups was conducted with watershed volunteers to better understand what motivated them to take action on watershed issues and what resources they felt were lacking to address local watershed protection. Key issues identified in the focus groups included the participants’ strong personal connections to local waterways and the challenges of adequately supporting and sustaining volunteer involvement.
Building Collaborative Partnerships
To begin engaging watershed leaders in North Carolina in developing a statewide network, the project team convened a workshop on May 29, 2013 at the NC Botanical Garden entitled Capacity and Resource Needs of North Carolina Watershed Programs: Working Towards a Collaborative Statewide Watershed Network. Leaders of key watershed programs across the state were invited to attend this interactive workshop, and more than 50 participants representing local, state and federal government agencies and private and nonprofit organizations attended. From this meeting, a steering committee was formed to develop the North Carolina Watershed Stewardship Network (NC WSN).