Within a year of its creation in 2009, the ERWP realized that its scope needed to be broader than control of woody invasive plants (Russian olive), if it was to work effectively toward its Mission. Therefore a subgroup of the ERWP formed in early 2010 in order to:
“Develop and ratify a guiding document that will serve the Partnership as the blueprint for short and long term goals to restore and maintain the natural ecological conditions of the Escalante River and its watershed and involve local communities in promoting and implementing sustainable land and water use practices.” [Mission Statement in italics]
This guiding document came to be known as the Action Plan for the ERWP, and its contents were intended to cover a period of ten years. The subgroup, which named itself the Action Plan Committee, went through a systematic and comprehensive process to develop the Action Plan that would:
- Address various concerns known to exist in the Escalante River watershed, such as invasive riparian plants, invasive aquatic animals, water shortages due to drought, and tree mortality in headwaters forests.
- Identify specific actions, once fully implemented, would achieve the Partnership’s mission.
For these two purposes, the Action Plan Committee adopted a process developed by The Nature Conservancy known as Conservation Action Planning (CAP). CAP is a relatively fine scale of planning that is specifically designed to identify specific “things to do” in order to achieve a particular purpose (in this case the mission of ERWP). The fundamental components of the CAP process are shown in the box below:
|Conservation Action Planning (CAP)
Components / Steps:
1. SELECT key features within the area that are the “targets” to be restored or maintained. Within the Escalante River watershed, these targets took the form of particular habitats, several of which had imbedded species of concern such as coldwater and warmwater fishes.
2. ASSESS the integrity or “health” of selected habitats and species of concern.
3. IDENTIFY factors and activities (“threats”) that are adversely affecting or inhibiting the health of the selected habitats and species of concern.
4. DEVELOP strategies and actions with stakeholders to abate impacts, and thus restore or maintain desired levels of health, of selected habitats and species of concern.
Over a period of 1½ years the Action Plan Committee worked through this process, and produced the Partnership’s Ten-Year Action Plan on October 31, 2011. The Committee also knew that this October 2011 Action Plan would require periodic revision as various activities were accomplished, or as unforeseen opportunities or challenges arose.
Therefore the Committee created a companion product in tabular (Excel spreadsheet) format that lists for each activity its timeline, the responsible parties leading the activity, and estimates of funding needs and sources. This Excel table was named the ‘Framework for Action Plan’ and has been updated several times since its original version of October 2011. Most current: Ten Year Action Plan – 2017 Update.