See also Policy and Procedures for regulation guidance
The watershed perspective applies to all Civil Works programs through planning, design, construction, operation, maintenance, restoration, rehabilitation, and regulatory activities. The application of this perspective into the Civil Works program encourages opportunities for enhancing the operations and maintenance of existing projects, especially the management of the natural resources. In addition, this perspective facilitates the integration of the nine Civil Works business programs into the identification and development of new Corps initiatives. The perspective recognizes the responsibility of the Corps as a major stakeholder in many of the Nation's watersheds.
An abundance of technical information about watersheds is available, including information about the watershed classification system in common use around the United States, the relative location of watersheds to Corps jurisdictions, and the characteristics of watersheds in various parts of the country. The following links are examples of geospatial products and ways to characterize watersheds that are available to the public and to land managers. Numerous research products and other technical information are linked to these and many other sites.
Corps-Sponsored Higher Education Opportunities
As part of the "Hire-Train-Retain" initiative the Corps is working with the Universities Council on Water Resources (UCOWR) to develop a Master's Degree in Water Resources Planning and Management. UCOWR is a consortium of 90 universities that offer water resources education. The degree program enables planners and other technical professionals to complete requirements for a master's degree at government expense in a relatively compressed time frame. The program fills an important niche in our need to build capability rapidly in the face of losses of experienced personnel. The program provides a significant incentive for hiring and retaining planning talent, as well as enhancing that talent through the opportunity for professional growth offered by an advanced professional education.
Other Education Opportunities
Higher education opportunities in watershed management are available throughout the Nation and overseas. The links below provide information on a few of these opportunities. It is recommended that individuals seeking specific higher education goals in watershed management conduct research on all the opportunities available. One place to start is the American Universities Website.
Other Federal Land Managing Agencies' Programs Related to Watersheds and Managing with an Ecosystems Approach
See also Watershed Perspectives for information about U.S. Army Corps of Engineers programs and activities related to watersheds.
In October 2000, five Federal departments (Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, and Interior) and three agencies (Environmental Protection Agency, Tennessee Valley Authority, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) published a
Unified Federal Policy on Watershed Management. The policy serves as a framework for better coordination among agencies, States, Tribes, private landowners, and interested stakeholders in managing Federal lands and resources using a watershed approach. The policy strives to implement plans that incorporate the goals of the policy and build on current efforts while recognizing work already being accomplished by local communities and the non-Federal parties above.
Under various specific joint partnerships, Federal agencies co-manage resources under the public trust and implement the principles of unified Federal policies related to watersheds and ecosystems. One example in the Pacific Northwest is the Northwest Forest Plan (NFP) with core responsibility vested with the U.S. Forest Service and the USDI Bureau of Land Management. Under the NFP, the core agencies and other Federal partners, including the Corps, have adopted an ecosystem approach to jointly manage Federal forests across 12 distinct regions or "provinces" stretching from northern California to northern Washington state. Program activities are governed by several sets of technical guidelines and decision documents, including a prescribed methodology for conducting ecosystem analyses at watershed scales.
In addition, each Federal land management agency pursues individual programs and its broad missions at an ecosystem, watershed, or landscape scale. Many of these programs are related in some way to the Corps' mission interests and watershed-based involvements. The following examples provide a sample of some of these Federal programs. They provide opportunities for partnerships toward common goals and shared visions of more effective watershed management. The programs include the following:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency vision is to achieve clean healthy watersheds that support aquatic life. EPA's approach is grounded in geographically defined watersheds, making improvements based on sound science, stakeholder involvement, and coordinated management activities. EPA's guiding principles for a watershed approach include preventing pollution, achieving and sustaining environmental improvements, and meeting other goals important to the community.
EPA captures its watershed intent in a paper entitled "Committing EPA's Water Program to Advancing the Watershed Approach." The agency defines the watershed approach as "a coordinating framework for environmental management that focuses public and private sector efforts to address the highest priority problems within hydrologically-defined geographic areas, taking into consideration both ground and surface water flow."
EPA's vision shares several common guiding principles with the Corps' watershed perspective, including the reliance upon partnerships and a geographic focus, and the desire to create sound management techniques based on strong science and data. The agency's Website, "Wetlands, Oceans, & Watersheds," describes numerous programs and functions it fulfills related to environmental protection at a watershed level:
USDA/Natural Resources Conservation Service
The Watershed and Flood Prevention Act of 1954 (PL 83-566) authorizes the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to provide planning support to Federal, tribal, State, and local agencies and governments for the purpose of conducting cooperative river basin surveys and investigations regarding rural development, water needs for wildlife, flood damages and erosion, water quality, and agricultural drought problems.
The Emergency Watershed Protection Program allows NRCS to respond to emergencies affecting water and land resources created by natural disasters. The agency's Website, "Watershed Protection, Watershed Surveys, and Flood Protection," describes the resources, tools, and programs involved in their watershed work.
USDA Forest Service
The USDA Forest Service (USFS) manages public lands in national forests and grasslands. The Forest Service is also the largest forestry research organization in the world, and provides technical and financial assistance to state and private forestry agencies. Congress established the Forest Service in 1905 to provide quality water and timber for the Nation's benefit. Over the years, the Service has managed national forests for additional multiple uses and benefits and for the sustained yield of renewable resources such as water, forage, wildlife, wood, and recreation. Their Watersheds, Fish, Wildlife, Air and Rare Plants Program covers a wide variety of resource issues and provides support and coordination to the public and the agency's regions, forests, and districts.
USDI Bureau of Land Management
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior, administers 261 million acres of Federal public lands, located primarily in 12 Western States. The BLM sustains the health, diversity, and productivity of these resources for multiple uses including public enjoyment. In their 1997-2001 Strategic Plan, the BLM committed to "develop and implement a comprehensive strategy for systematic resource assessment on the public lands." This National Assessment Prototype is a step toward developing such a systematic assessment for land health and resource use on the public lands. The Prototype tests the use of a small, carefully selected set of indicators to portray patterns of resource condition and risk to public lands at the west-wide level. The Bureau's National Landscape Conservation System is a network of national conservation areas, national monuments, wild and scenic rivers, national scenic and historic trails, wilderness areas and wilderness study areas that comprise working landscapes and vast wildlands of particular importance. The BLM works with communities and partners of both place and interest to ensure that the significant legacy of these places is sustained.
U.S. Geological Survey
The U.S. Geological Survey has the principal Federal responsibility to provide the hydrologic information and understanding needed by others to achieve the best use and management of the nation's water resources. To accomplish this mission, the USGS, in cooperation with State, local, and other Federal agencies:
- Systematically collects and analyzes data to evaluate the quantity, quality, and use of the Nation's water resources and provides results of these investigations to the public.
- Conducts water-resources appraisals describing the occurrence, availability, and physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of surface and groundwater.
- Conducts basic and problem-oriented hydrologic and related research that aids in alleviating water resources problems and provides an understanding of hydrologic systems sufficient to predict their response to natural or human-caused stress.
- Coordinates the activities of Federal agencies in the acquisition of water resources data for streams, lakes, reservoirs, estuaries, and groundwater.
- Provides scientific and technical assistance in hydrologic fields to other Federal, State, and local agencies, to licensees of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and to international agencies on behalf of the Department of State.
- Administers the State Water Resources Research Institutes Program and the National Water Resources Research Grants Program.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service uses an ecosystem approach to conserve, protect, and enhance fish and wildlife and their habitats. Their regional ecosystem teams apply biologically based strategies for ecosystem conservation, protection, and restoration of birds, endangered species, and anadromous fish. The agency's ecosystem approach is comprehensive, and is based on all of the biological resources within a watershed and it considers the economic health of communities within watersheds. The Service has identified and defined boundaries for 53 ecosystem units around the country - each is a particular grouping of USGS-defined watersheds.
National Park Service
The National Park Service recognizes that parks of all kinds can no longer be thought of as islands with little or no connection, cultural or ecological, to their surroundings. Beyond encouraging collaboration among park and recreation systems at every level -Federal, regional, State, local - in order to help build an outdoor recreation network accessible to all Americans, actions to preserve biodiversity cannot be limited to park areas, for parks are often parts of larger ecosystems that encompass them. Of particular interest to the Corps, the Service's report "Re-Thinking the National Parks for the 21st Century," recommends that the Service should pay special attention to the protection of aquatic and marine systems and should cooperate extensively with its neighbors-Federal agencies, States, counties, cities, tribes, the private sector, even other countries. The report states that these connections can only be created through partnerships and that NPS should become an active participant in a national effort to create such connections.
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
The U.S Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) assists western states in meeting increasing water demands using a watershed approach. They focus on water conservation and management pertaining to drinking water, irrigation, hydropower, water recycling/reuse, and recreation. The Bureau has launched a major initiative entitled Water 2025 intended to focus national attention on important drivers of growing Western water conflicts: explosive population growth in these states, emerging water demands for environmental protection and recreation uses, and the longstanding national significance of Western food and fiber production that has been traditionally tied to Western water use.
Bureau of Indian Affairs
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is charged with enhancing the quality of life, promoting economic opportunity, and carrying out the responsibility to protect and improve the trust assets of American Indians, Indian tribes and Alaska Natives. The BIA's Website is temporarily closed under order of the courts dealing with the current Cobell Litigation; it contains information about the agency's mission, partnership opportunities, and watershed-related issues. The site currently directs readers to numerous other resources related to BIA trust interests and resource issues.
Other Communities of Practice
See also Watershed NRM Partners for additional examples of specific Corps involvements in local watershed partnerships.
One count published in 1999 related that some 1500 watershed initiatives were at work across the Nation, almost all established within the 1990's ("Human Dimensions of Watershed Management," AWRA 1999). The examples below are illustrations of the rapidly emerging Watershed "community of practice." A few examples below are not watershed initiatives per se, but each one illustrates a landscape-scale, ecosystem approach, or other nuance to accomplishing conservation work within a broad watershed dimension. Given the huge number of initiatives cited above, the following small sample provides a few of the many activities, orientations, and partners that are pursuing watershed-scaled work under the auspices of local/State governments, interagency groups, and/or non-government organizations. Federal partners, including the Corps, are involved with almost all of these types of watershed initiatives - including many of those linked below.
Development Gateway Foundation