December 2008 Watershed Highlight of the Month

Congratulations to the CA Department of Conservation for their leadership in building a statewide watershed program

Calif. Dept. of Conservation Director Bridgett Luther

This past year, the Department of Conservation, under Director Bridgett Luther’s guidance, hammered out a successful series of regional meetings to guide the formation of a Statewide Watershed Program. Utilizing an appointed Public Advisory Committee to develop the specifics, the program will retain many of the important elements that made the CALFED Watershed Program successful. The level of public involvement and program transparency has remained intact through the interactive public advisory function using basic principles of operation that have been developed with extensive public input to maintain an emphasis on multi-stakeholder, multi-objective management.

The new program is a Resources Agency action, and is administered through the Department of Conservation (DOC). The Statewide Watershed Program Advisory Committee conducted a wide-ranging public outreach campaign that included nearly thirty public meetings throughout the state from February through May 2008. The Committee received over 1,500 comments. A final report summarizing the input received has been prepared.

The summary report describes Statewide needs received from watershed groups involved with improving the overall management of the State’s watershed resources:

  • Greater coordination and communication among the multiple actors within each watershed, and between watersheds. The need is for more alignment of goals and objectives from local to national levels, in both government and non-government arenas.
  • Improved organization, access and usefulness of available information and data to support watershed management in a predictable, reliable, current and thorough manner.
  • Greater technical and organizational capacity for watershed based resource management. The available capacity to engage in successful management varies widely across the State.
  • Improved use and availability of sound watershed science to support more effective decision making and results measurement.

Most recently, the Advisory Committee has submitted their recommendations to the DOC Director and Secretary for Resources for their consideration. It is anticipated that the Administration will work with the newly seated members of the Legislature to finalize and implement a Statewide Water Program that will serve as the interface for all future funding and programmatic actions.

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