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Healthy Watersheds Protection

Healthy Watersheds Projects in Region 4

Serving Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Six Tribes

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Region-wide Projects

The Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership The Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership (SARP) coordinates among various programs and organizations to create a cross-boundary commitment to protecting aquatic resources in the southeastern United States and is a partnership of the National Fish Habitat Action Plan.

Southern Instream Flow Network The Southern Instream Flow Network was created by the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership to facilitate development of protective instream flow policies among partners based in 15 southeastern US states. This is achieved by providing science-based resources, including developing regional flow-ecology relationships, hydrologic classification of streams and rivers, compilation of baseline information on hydrologic and ecologic conditions, assessment of flow alteration and implementation of flow conservation actions in high priority areas.

Southeastern Ecological Framework Project The EPA Southeastern U.S. Ecological Framework Project uses landscape ecology principles and GIS technology to identify a network of green infrastructure corridors connecting primary ecological areas. The green infrastructure network is intended to be used by states and local communities to guide decisions on protecting important natural areas and ecological systems and their connecting corridors.

Strategic Conservation Planning by Land Trusts: Protecting Freshwater Resources in the Southeast US 2005-2010 (PDF) (63 pp, 1.5MB) Similar to its series of conservation planning case studies in the Midwest, the Land Trust Alliance also compiled eight case studies that demonstrate how collaborative partnerships can be used to strategically protect stream corridors, source water areas and high-priority watersheds in the southeastern U.S.

Ecological Responses to Flow Alteration in the South Atlantic Region: A Literature Review and Meta-Analysis (PDF) (63 pp, 1.5MB) This project reviewed and documented sources of information on relationships between streamflow and ecology in the South Atlantic region, examined general patterns in ecological responses to both natural flow variation and anthropogenic flow alteration, and analyzed key predictors of the direction and magnitude of ecological responses to flow changes.

Unified Hydrologic Model for Assessing Human and Climate Impacts on Streamflows at Multiple Geographic Scales This project predicts natural baseline instream flows for all NHDPlus catchments in the South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative, altered flows under existing conditions, and future flows based on urban growth and climate change projections. The result is a hydrologic data foundation that can be used to implement the ELOHA framework for determining environmental flow needs for rivers and streams throughout the South Atlantic region.

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Alabama Projects

Alabama and Mobile Bay Basin Integrated Assessment of Watershed Health (PDF) (50pp, 12MB)  The EPA Healthy Watersheds Program, Alabama Department of Environmental Management, and Mobile Bay National Estuary Program conducted an integrated assessment of relative watershed health throughout Alabama and the Mobile Bay Basin. Twelve metrics were selected to describe landscape condition, hydrologic condition, habitat condition, geomorphology, water quality and biological condition. Metrics were quantified for each NHDPlus Version 2 catchment in Alabama and the Mobile Bay Basin using a combination of existing GIS layers and statistical models that predicted values of stream habitat condition, stream chemistry and stream biological condition metrics. Statistical models used landscape variables such as land cover, soil attributes and topography as predictors of stream conditions within each catchment.

Metrics were combined into an overall Watershed Health Index and scores were mapped across Alabama and the Mobile Bay Basin to highlight priority areas for protection. In addition, an assessment of hydrologic connectivity to Mobile Bay was conducted for catchments in the Mobile Bay Basin using three metrics that described a catchment’s potential for water and material export and degree of downstream attenuation. Connectivity metrics were combined into a Mobile Bay Connectivity Index that can be used in conjunction with Watershed Health Index scores to identify portions of the Mobile Bay Basin that are both healthy and highly connected to Mobile Bay and are therefore priorities for maintaining natural water, sediment and nutrient inflows to Mobile Bay.

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Florida Projects

Alachua County Green Infrastructure Investment Program  Alachua County, Florida has implemented a green infrastructure program that integrates community investments in private and public green assets. Key program components include a comprehensive plan, Alachua County Forever land acquisitions, and a unique governance structure which promotes systems thinking, collaboration and public participation. Dynamic citizen advisory boards and other public participation venues provide County Commissioners and staff with valuable input on program policies, direction and performance. New web‐based, information‐sharing technologies have been deployed to support program operation based upon principles of shared information, user‐friendly interfaces and public access. Budget‐aligned program performance data is reported using web‐based applications and publicly accessible web dashboards.

Closing The Gaps in Florida’s Wildlife Habitat Conservation System (PDF) (246 pp, 21.5MB) Identifies a statewide system of landscape hubs and conservation corridors to conserve critical elements of Florida’s native ecosystems and maintain connectivity among ecological systems and processes.

Economic Benefits of Natural Land Conservation: Case Study of NE Florida (PDF) (75 pp, 625K) This case study of economic benefits of natural lands focuses on the northeast Florida counties of Duval, Clay, St. Johns and Putnam. The goal is to help readers envision the role and importance of the region’s landscape resources to its economy.

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North Carolina Projects

North Carolina Conservation Planning Tool This comprehensive planning tool is used by local and state governments, regional planning organizations and non-profit organizations to inform decisions about conservation and other land use planning efforts in North Carolina. The tool provides maps that integrate information on biodiversity and wildlife habitat, open space and conservation lands, agricultural lands and forestry lands that can be used independently or in combination to explore the relative order of conservation significance for lands throughout the state. By sharing protection priorities, the tool can support consistent and cost-effective conservation investments statewide.

The Importance of Biocriteria in North Carolina's Basinwide Management Strategy The North Carolina Division of Water Quality (DWQ) has been using bioassessment techniques to evaluate water quality for more than 15 years. Biological data are valuable for classifying Outstanding Resource Waters (ORW) and High Quality Waters (HQW). In order to be classified as ORW or HQW, the stream must receive a biological rating of "Excellent." State standards allow waters designated as ORW or HQW to be protected through such means as advanced treatment requirements, restriction of new discharges, land use regulations and storm water controls.

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Tennessee Projects

Beaver Creek Watershed Green Infrastructure Plan (PDF) (85 pp, 13.4MB) The Beaver Creek Watershed Green Infrastructure Plan integrates smart growth and smart conservation concepts to identify lands suitable to serve as conserved riparian buffers, greenway connections, and linkages between neighborhoods and communities within the Beaver Creek Watershed's green infrastructure system.

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