Water: Estuaries and Coastal Watersheds
Reporting Environmental Results - National Estuary Program (NEP)
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Reporting Environmental Results Matters
The National Estuary Program works with local communities to improve the health of our nation's estuaries. Together, they develop plans called Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plans (CCMPs) that contain environmental goals for their estuaries and watersheds as well as blueprints for achieving those goals. Community support and involvement is fundamental to the success of these efforts. As this is a long-term process, keeping the community well informed and connected with plan activities and progress is critical to keeping the plan a vital, living process for the community.
Performance reporting is not only essential for garnering and maintaining community support, it is often mandated. Enabling legislation or other lawsfederal or localmay require responsible agencies to report on what progress they are making toward established goals.
For the National Estuary Program, several pieces of federal legislation weigh in on performance reporting.
Estuaries and Clean Water Act of 2000 (PDF) (26 pp, 76K, About PDF)
This new legislation makes restoring the nation's estuaries a national priority and funds community-based estuary restoration projects. Reauthorization of EPA's National Estuary Program is included, with funds for estuary management in addition to planning. The core of the bill establishes a five-year program through which the federal government will promote and track estuary restoration.
Government Performance Results Act of 1993 (GPRA)
This act requires that federal agencies should link inputs, outputs, and outcomes of their programs to improve government planning, budgeting, performance, and results overall.
Clean Water Act Amendments of 1987
The enabling legislation for the NEP program stipulates that NEPs must "monitor the effectiveness of actions taken pursuant to the plan."
Reporting Environmental Results Challenges
EPA recognizes that although habitat acreage restored and protected is a strong measure of on-the-ground progress made by NEPs, it does not necessarily reflect improvements in habitat health (e.g., water quality and living resources). This habitat measure is used as an indicator to show tangible results towards a goal of conserving and enhancing the ecological health of estuaries. It represents an initial performance measurement effort that will evolve over time.
In addition, although the habitat acreage measure is reported annually, EPA recognizes that complete habitat restoration is a long-term process. While visual transformations in habitat structure and composition due to restoration efforts may be seen after a growing season, or use of the habitat by various key species may increase over a short period of time, changes in ecological function may not be fully realized for many years.
EPA acknowledges that there are data limitations associated with the habitat information reported by each NEP. For example, there may be inconsistencies in reporting based on different interpretations of the habitat categories or definitions of protection and restoration (see Protection and Restoration Terms), acreage may be miscalculated due to human error when transferring data supplied by other NEP partners, and there may be double counting of acreage in some cases where activities are repeatedly done on-site (such as replanting vegetation on the same habitat parcel due to storm damage). Although these limitations exist, the data presented is as accurate as possible based on review and inspection by each NEP prior to posting on this web page.
For individual NEP reports, please visit Local NEP Projects and Regional Summary.