Proactive watershed planning and community engagement in the Warner River watershed

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Crowley, Katerina A.
Given current threats to our waterways, watershed planning is a blossoming field. Unfortunately, organizations aiming to develop such plans are given little guidance on the planning process. The Environmental Protection Agency Handbook for Developing Watershed Plans briefly describes watershed planning as an ���adaptive,�۝ ���integrated,�۝ and ���participatory and collaborative�۝ process but does not advise how to incorporate these approaches or explain their benefits and challenges. I comparatively analyze these watershed planning approaches in Chapter 1 and then provide two examples in Chapters 2 and 3 of how the approaches are being applied within the Warner River Watershed (NH) to proactively conserve wild brook trout and high-quality coldwater stream habitat. In Chapter 2, I evaluate the effectiveness of a collaborative and participatory landowner engagement program designed to increase landowner awareness and appreciation of aquatic organisms living in their stream. This highly effective program fostered stewardship behaviors and stimulated landowners to implement land management recommendations to improve stream habitat quality. In Chapter 3, I describe how I collaboratively developed an adaptive, integrated decision-making framework to prioritize culvert replacement projects. After many adjustments and iterations, I created a final product that included parameters related to social, economic, and environmental well-being, and also integrated stream habitat with surrounding landscape condition. These efforts and similar efforts being conducted in the Warner River Watershed will help ensure the sustainability and resiliency of wild brook trout and protect high-quality coldwater stream habitat.