Watershed News is a publication of EPA's Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds. It is designed to provide timely information to groups working at the watershed level.
In this month's newsletter
1) National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program
2) National Environmental Education Training Program
3) Environmental Training for Youth
4) Watershed Intern Program
5) Celebrate American Wetlands Month 2010!
6) Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Disaster
7) Ocean Survey Vessel Bold 2009 Annual Report
8) EPA Solicits Public Comment on the Effects of Ocean Acidification as it Relates to the 303(d) Program
9) Wetlands & Wonder: Reconnecting Children with Nearby Nature
10) Tools for Addressing Coastal Wetlands Loss
11) Blue Thumb Planting for Clean Water
12) U.S. EPA Technology Transfer Seminars
13) 21st Annual Nonpoint Source Pollution Conference
14) 2010 National River Rally
15) 2010 OH Stormwater Conference
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is offering approximately 20 awards to coastal States that will invest in projects to protect and restore valuable coastal wetlands. All projects must ensure long-term conservation efforts such as restoring wetland hydrology, breaking tile drainage systems, installing water control structures, planting native vegetation, and removing invasive species. Eligible applicants include any coastal State agency. Applications are due by June 25, 2010.
The EPA funds the National Environmental Education Training Program to deliver environmental education training and long-term support to teachers and other education professionals across the U.S. to enable them to teach effectively about environmental issues. EPA awards one cooperative agreement to fund this 5 year national program. U.S. institutions of higher education, 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, or a consortia of such institutions are eligible to apply. Eligible institutions are encouraged to form consortia to operate this program. The funds are expected to be awarded for this program by September 30, 2010. Applications are due by July 26, 2010.
USFWS is offering an opportunity for youth to be introduced to natural resource careers through “hands-on” work with natural resource professionals employed by the USFWS. On-site activities will be located at a variety of field stations, including wildlife refuges, fish hatcheries, and ecological services offices. The goal is to help develop a new generation of youth, who are enthusiastic and effective conservationists and ecologists. Each selected individual or group is given the opportunity to serve a seasonal on-site assignment, usually between April 1 and November 1. During the assignments, individuals or groups are introduced to various real-world conservation and rehabilitation activities such as invasive species management, habitat restoration, wildlife management, and public education and interpretation, mixed with informal and formal training sessions directed by USFWS. The USFWS invites submission of proposals from all potential sources willing and able to cooperatively administer a program for identifying and recruiting youth for assignments at field stations in the Mountain-Prairie Region states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Utah. The closing date for applications is September 30, 2010.
The Office of Surface Mining within the U.S. Department of the Interior will assist watershed groups by providing funds to hire interns to work on specific projects. The project must clearly enhance the sustainability of the watershed organizations, and must contribute directly to the remediation of acid mine drainage. Private nonprofit institutions/organizations, public nonprofit institutions/organizations, and established watershed organizations in the following States are eligible to participate: Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Undergraduate and graduate students, throughout the United States, interested in helping to clean up the environment are also eligible. The closing date for applications is September 30, 2010.
This May marks the 20th anniversary of American Wetlands Month, a time when EPA and its partners in federal, state, tribal, local, non-profit, and private sector organizations celebrate the vital importance of wetlands to the Nation's ecological, economic, and social health. It is also a great opportunity to discover and teach others about the important role that wetlands play in our environment and the significant benefits they provide - improved water quality, increased water storage and supply, reduced flood and storm surge risk, and critical habitat for plants, fish, and wildlife. This year's American Wetlands Month will focus on coastal wetlands.
On April 20th, an explosion aboard the Transocean drilling rig Deepwater Horizon caused the rig to sink and spill a massive amount of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Efforts to minimize the damage from the oil spill from the underwater well are under way in the Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida coastal areas. Many conservation groups in the region are responding to the disaster by recruiting volunteers to reduce the impact of the oil spill, including the organizations listed below.
- Deep Water Horizon Response Team- 1-866-448-5816
- Alabama Coastal Foundation- 251-990-6002
- Mobile Bay National Estuary Program- 251-431-6409
- Mobile Baykeeper- 251-433-4229
- Save Our Seabirds- 941-388-3010
EPA continues to coordinate closely with other federal, state and local agencies by monitoring and responding to potential public health and environmental concerns. Environmental data, including air quality and water samples will be posted and frequently updated (http://www.epa.gov/bpspill) as it is collected and validated by EPA’s response teams along the impacted coastlines.
Recently, the U.S. EPA released the Ocean Survey Vessel Bold 2009 Annual Report. In 2009, the Ocean Survey Vessel Bold, EPA’s ocean and coastal monitoring vessel, supported over 25 scientific surveys throughout a variety of geographic areas including the Atlantic Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida Keys, and the Caribbean Sea. The Annual Report highlights the Bold's scientific survey capabilities, survey accomplishments, and the unique role the vessel plays in supporting EPA's monitoring and assessment programs that address requirements of federal statutes such as the Clean Water Act and the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act. The data gathered through Bold survey activities is essential in helping EPA make regulatory and policy decisions to control pollution sources.
EPA Solicits Public Comment on the Effects of Ocean Acidification as it Relates to the 303(d) Program
EPA issued a Federal Register notice (FRN) to solicit public comments on the effects of ocean acidification as it relates to the Clean Water Act Section 303(d) program. EPA is asking for specific input on what considerations the Agency should take into account when deciding how to address listing of waters as threatened or impaired for ocean acidification under the Section 303(d) program. The Agency is using this opportunity to ask for input on what are the specific elements EPA should consider in regards to monitoring and assessment. Other questions EPA is requesting comment on include:
- How can States or EPA otherwise aid in monitoring ocean acidification and its impacts on marine life and ecosystems?
- If waters were determined to be threatened or impaired for ocean acidification under 303(d), what issues should EPA and States take into account when considering how to address TMDL development for such waters?
- What other Federal ocean acidification programs and initiatives should EPA take into account when deciding how to approach ocean acidification under the 303(d) program?
Comments from the public must be received on or before May 21, 2010.
Watershed Tool of the Month
EPA Region 8 has produced an award- winning wetlands education video that emphasizes the importance of everyday connections to nature for children. The 12-minute video explores the value of urban wetland ecosystems as places to experience nature. Urban and suburban wetlands are remnants of the natural world in the human landscape and can play a key role in reconnecting people to nearby nature — thereby improving the health of our children and our communities. The video is available online (http://www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/education/wetlandsvideo) for distribution or it can be ordered from the National Service Center for Environmental Publications (http://www.epa.gov/nscep) or at 800-490-9198.
EPA’s Watershed Academy hosted a special Webcast on Tuesday, May 4, 2010 in honor of American Wetlands Month. This Webcast entitled, “Tools for Protecting Coastal Wetlands” featured information on several tools that can help address impacts on coastal wetland ecosystems from immediate impacts (development) to long-term (sea level rise) in order to help improve decision-making and provide readily accessible information to practitioners. A recent report shows that despite a national trend of net gain of wetlands in the conterminous United States, the coastal watersheds of the Atlantic Ocean, Great Lakes, and Gulf of Mexico lost 354,000 acres, or about 59,000 acres per year during the period from 1998-2004. This Webcast will be available soon, along with other archived Webcasts (http://www.epa.gov/watershedwebcasts).
Watershed Spotlight: Local Leaders
Watershed groups around the nation are spreading the word of how raingardens in residential areas can improve water quality. To increase the effectiveness of this message, it may be time to move beyond the brochure and try leveraging incentives to motivate people into action. The Blue Thumb - Planting for Clean Water program from Minnesota has proven that targeting social marketing strategies can increase the visibility of conservation concepts to peak public interest. This collaborative program of more than 50 public and private sector partners encourages homeowners to use raingardens to reduce runoff and improve water quality.
- If the host of the party hand-delivers the invitations, the turnout rate will be higher.
The Blue Thumb partner, the Washington Conservation District of Minnesota, uses neighborhood raingarden parties as a marketing vehicle. While a Blue Thumb representative facilitates the parties by providing invitations, technical guidance, and local water quality information, a community volunteer hosts the party and provides food and beverages. After learning about raingarden functions, the neighbors are empowered to work together to implement nutrient reduction practices in their own communities. In addition to educating the community members on stormwater issues, these parties develop community pride and deliver conservation efforts to priority areas. This marketing technique increases acceptance of sustainably landscaped lawns by capitalizing on the influences of the "everybody's doing it" mentality, especially since the host is your friendly next-door neighbor.
For more information on the Blue Thumb Program, contact Angie Hong (email@example.com).
To nominate a group for our Spotlight feature, please contact Alison Keener (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Upcoming Conferences and Workshops
May, 2010. Seattle, WA and Chicago, IL. U.S. EPA's Office of Research and Development, in collaboration with EPA regional offices, is conducting a series of technology transfer seminars that will provide updated, state-of-the-technology design guidance on nitrogen and phosphorus control at municipal wastewater treatment plants for wastewater utilities, state and EPA permit writers and environmental engineering professionals. The Region 10 seminar will be held in Seattle on May 11-12, 2010 and the Region 5 seminar will be held in Chicago on May 25-26, 2010. The deadline for registrations is May 3, 2010. There is no registration fee to attend these seminars.
May 17-19, 2010. Plymouth, MA. Since 1990, New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC), in partnership with its member states, has been coordinating the Annual Nonpoint Source (NPS) Pollution Conference, the premier forum in the NE region for sharing information and improving communication on NPS pollution issues and projects. The three-day conference brings together all those in New England and New York State involved in NPS pollution management, including participants from state, federal, and municipal governments, private sector, academia, and watershed organizations. Early registration discount is available through April 30, 2010.
May 21-24, 2010. Snowbird, UT. The River Rally is River Network's annual event that brings together over 500 river conservationists for 3 consecutive days of education, inspiration and celebration. Highlights of this year’s River Rally will include a series of intensive workshops, interaction with funders and exhibitors, the River Heroes Banquet, unsurpassed networking opportunities and organized field trips. Participants of the River Rally typically include staff, board members, volunteers, agencies, tribal representatives, and individuals interested in watershed conservation. Register online .
June 10-11, 2010. Sandusky, OH. The 2010 Ohio Stormwater Conference is a great opportunity to strengthen your skills and knowledge in an intensive workshop setting with other colleagues. The purpose of the conference is to advance the knowledge and understanding of comprehensive stormwater management for those dealing in all aspects of planning, design, implementation and regulatory compliance. The conference is intended for engineers, policy makers, scientists, managers, and elected officials throughout Ohio. Online registration is now available .
August 1-5, 2010. San Antonio, TX. The 9th annual North American Surface Water Quality Conference and Exposition, StormCon will be held in San Antonio, TX on August 1-5, 2010. This is an opportunity for stormwater managers, regulators, engineers, consultants, and contractors to learn about the latest stormwater innovations and technologies. StormCon features the largest exhibition of stormwater equipment and technologies in one place. Online registration is open .