Encouraging Active and Broad Citizen Participation
Our preferred method of encouraging active and broad citizen participation in the Watershed Improvement Coalition is to identify landowners and/or business owners as well as other key stakeholders and to contact them directly. Information on landownership on Oak Creek is readily available on Yavapai County and Coconino County GIS websites, and the major landowner of property adjacent to Oak Creek is the US Forest Service (USFS). As example, our initial step in including broad citizen participation in the watershed planning effort identified and obtained verbal commitments from eighteen governmental and non-governmental entities representative of stakeholders in Oak Creek watershed, that are interested in being members of the Coalition.
Being that this is an iterative process, our initial meeting of stakeholders will be polled to identify gaps in representation. The Coalition’s next step will be inclusion of broader community representation, as necessary, of additional groups likely to be affected by implementation in the Watershed Improvement Plan. Once stakeholder groups, such as representatives from homeowner associations and agricultural consortiums, are committed, we anticipate points-of-contact to reach out to their constituents for greater participation, and that the type and degree of effort that organizations and individuals are willing to commit to in the planning process will become apparent.
Ensuring long-term participation and support by stakeholders will require early involvement in the watershed planning process in the formulation of goals, objectives, target area identification, and development of best management practices, monitoring and adaptive management strategies, as well as organizing and facilitating stakeholder contributions. Working group meetings and general meetings will be scheduled to meet the level of commitment available from stakeholders.
Education, Outreach and Public Involvement
The most efficient, cost-effective and universally accessible method of making information and progress of the project, transparent and available to the public and private sector, is the internet. To that end, we will utilize our own website, www.oakcreekwatershed.org to develop interactive webpages dedicated to the entire watershed with quarterly updates. The website will also be linked to www.oakcreekcanyontaskforce.org which is dedicated to Oak Creek Canyon, and will enhance our efforts in promoting outdoor ethics to the millions of annual visitors. Documents used and generated in the project will be available digitally on the webpage as portable document format (PDF) with paper copies held in the Sedona and Cottonwood Public Libraries. Local media will be invited to attend WIC meetings, with press releases for meetings published in local media, including the four (4) radio stations, three (3) newspapers and one (1) cable broadcast that the Verde Valley area hosts as well as others in our media pool.
Initial efforts and funds will be expended to educate WIC members and educate, train, inform and outfit the volunteer force with knowledge and literature to hit the ground for reconnaissance with a proactive approach to finding the pollution source. Literature distributed to recipients will lead to the website for a consistent and accurate flow and dissemination of information. In addition to distributing educational literature, volunteers will collect contact data on individuals and organizations for use in the subsequent social survey.