Monitoring and Evaluation of Selected Rural Watershed Councils in the Continental United States


Through the 1980s, measures like the "Wild and Scenic Act" protected recreational and aesthetic segments of rivers. Conservationists focused on reducing point-source pollution (pipe effluent) by pressuring individual companies or utilities.

In the 1990s, river conservation focuses on protecting river ecology by including headwaters and the river's tributaries. Conservation efforts have shifted to nonpoint-source pollution (runoff from agriculture, roads, etc.), which requires a cooperative approach from numerous people.

"Watershed Councils" address modern river protection by focusing on watershed-wide consensus actions. Our study looks at fourteen watershed councils in rural areas, to learn lessons about their organization, their methods, and their effectiveness.

This report is published in a summary form (see Summary Table of Contents) and the "full text" form indexed here. BRSF

Table of Contents

i. Executive Summary

ii. Glossary

iii. Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Watershed Basics

2.1. What is a Watershed?
2.1a. Ecological Considerations
2.1b. Economic Considerations
2.1c. Historical Considerations
2.1d. Why Care About Watersheds?
2.2. Watershed Management?
2.2a. Ecological Failure
2.2b. Legislative Failure
2.2c. Political Failure
2.2d. Coordination Failure
2.2e. Local "Bottom-Up" Solution
2.2f. What Is To Be Done?
2.3. Why Watershed Councils?
2.3a. Individual Participation
2.3b. Community Consensus
2.3c. Avoiding Property Disputes
2.3d. Avoiding Regulation
2.3e. Effective Collaboration
2.3f. Watershed Council Roles
2.4. How Do We Pay For It?
2.4a. Federal Funding
2.4b. State and local Funding
2.4c. Private Funding
2.4d. Self Funding

3. Watershed Groups

3.1.Animas River, CO
3.2.Big Spring Creek, MT
3.3.Great Egg Harbor, NJ
3.4.Mckenzie Council, OR
3.5.Mill Creek Council, OH
3.6.Minn.-Wis. Boundary
3.7.Mississippi River, MN
3.8.Niobrara River, NE & SD
3.9.Ozark Scenic Rivers, MO
3.10.Saginaw Bay, MI
3.11.St. Miguel, CO
3.12.Sun River Project, MT
3.13.Upper Arkansas, CO
3.14.Upper Delaware, NY & PA
3.15.Council Bibliography

4. Council Survey

4.1. Representation
4.2. Balance
4.3. Facilitation
4.4. Sustainability
4.5. Power
4.6. Effectiveness
4.7. Issues
4.8. Opposition
4.9. Accomplishments / Failures
4.10. Advice

5. Conclusions

5.1. Representation
5.2. Balance
5.3. Facilitation
5.4. Sustainability
5.5. Power
5.6. Effectiveness
5.7. Issues
5.8. Opposition
5.9. Accomplishments / Failures
5.10. Advice

A. Literature Survey

A.1. Representation
A.1a. Federal Involvement
A.1b. Federal vs. Local Control
A.1c. Bottom Up vs. Top Down
A.1d. Case Studies
A.2. Balance
A.2a. Competing Interests
A.2b. Communicating
A.2c. Partnership Approach
A.3. Facilitation
A.3a. Getting People Involved
A.3b. Watershed Coordinator
A.3c. Guiding Principles
A.3d. Case Studies
A.4. Sustainability
A.4a. Getting Started
A.4b. Case Studies
A.4c. Funding Sources
A.4d. Case Studies
A.5. Power
A.5a. Traditional Power
A.5b. Power in Councils
A.5c. Voluntary Incentives
A.6. Effectiveness
A.6a. Involving Residents
A.6b. Principles For Success
A.6c. Measuring Improvement
A.6d. Case Studies
A.7a. Issues
A.7a1. Nonpoint-Source Pollution
A.7a2. Sedimentation
A.7a3. Cumulative Effects
A.7a4. Agriculture Practices
A.7a5. Development
A.7a6. Recreational Use
A.7a7. Legislative Failure
A.7b. Roles
A.7b1. Action Plan
A.7b2. Forum/Educate/Monitor
A.7b3. Conflict Resolution
A.7c. Case Studies
A.8. Opposition
A.8a. Federal Involvement
A.8b. Private Landowners
A.8c. Wise Use Movement
A.8d. Watershed Management
A.9. Accomplishments / Failures
A.9a. Reasons for Failure
A.9b. Successful Programs
A.9c. Success Stories
A.10. Advice
A.11. Additional Watersheds
A.11a. Badger Creek, CO
A.11b. Canyon Country, UT
A.11c. Chewelah Creek, WA
A.11d. Douglas Basin, CO
A.11e. Dry Creek, CO
A.11f. Elevenmile River, CO
A.11g. Feather River, CA
A.11h. French Creek, CA
A.11i. Henry’s Fork, ID & WY
A.11j. Meramec River, MO
A.11k. Parkers Creek, MD
A.11l. Scott River, CA
A.11m. Seco Creek, TX
A.11n. Tensas River, LA
A.11o. Upper Deschutes, OR
A.11p. Upper Stony Creek, CA

B. Bibliography

C. Interview Contacts

This report is published in a summary form (see Summary Table of Contents) and the "full text" form indexed here.

About the Authors

Timothy T. Jones, LL.M. 1997, George Washington University Law School; J.D. 1993, University of Arkansas School of Law; B.A. University of Tulsa. Mr. Jones has worked on economic and environmental legal matters at the state, federal and international levels for various agencies and organizations. Currently he is an Assistant Regional Counsel for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 6. This article does not represent the opinions of the U.S. EPA and was written before Mr. Jones began employment with this agency.

Jesse A. Gordon, MPP 1994, Environment and Development, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; B.A. 1984, General Science, Brandeis University. Mr. Gordon has written and taught on issues of environmental economics and non-profit development at the state, federal and international levels. Currently he is employed by Vantage Group Services, a non-profit service corporation. Mr. Gordon resides in Cambridge, MA, with his wife Eljay and children Spike, 8, Coco, 7, and Kessel, 1.


All material copyright 1998 by Jesse Gordon, Tim Jones, and the Buffalo River Stewardship Foundation.
Reprinting by permission only.
Contact: Jesse Gordon

"Monitoring and Evaluation of Selected Rural Watershed Councils in the Continental United States"

by Jesse Alan Gordon, MPP, and Timothy T. Jones, JD.

Written for the Buffalo River Stewardship Foundation
Jon Johnson, Department of Management, College of Business Administration, U. Ark. Fayetteville
P.O. Box 2693, Fayetteville AR 72702 USA
e-mail: and

Written under the sponsorship of
The North American Fund for Environmental Cooperation
Attn: Janice Astbury, NAFEC Coordinator
Commission for Environmental Cooperation
393 St. Jacques Ouest, Rm 200, Montreal PQ H2Y 1N9
(514) 350-4357, e-mail:

Brief citation: "Survey of Rural Watershed Councils"

The Buffalo River Stewardship Foundation does not necessarily endorse nor ascribe to the contents and conclusions herein.

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