There is currently a spotlight on Oroville, CA and the Oroville Dam as the waters from the past week’s rainstorms filled the reservoir to the brim. Sierra Institute is in the Upper Feather River Watershed, where all flows lead to Lake Oroville, to the Sacramento River, and onward to municipal, agricultural, and ecological uses.
Although the situation is, or was, perceivably dire, it is a good opportunity to discuss the role of watersheds and the entities responsible for maintaining, and managing the various functions within. Our Department of Conservation Watershed Program Study covers a wide range of grant recipients who used state funding for watershed projects and personnel to oversee them. Grants were given to many organizations including nonprofits, resource conservation districts, and local agencies. In fact, public works departments and flood control agencies received grants for municipal water projects; while not on the scale of the Oroville Dam, these grants affected communities susceptible to flooding.
There were over 300 grants awarded throughout the timeframe of this study and all throughout the state. The geography, population (rural/urban), purpose, recipient organization, and funding amount are all criteria used to identify specific case studies to research in-depth. To illustrate, we can use Sierra Institute (recipient of a watershed coordinator grant in 2011) as an example. Sierra Institute is a nonprofit located in Plumas County – an area with significant water resources, a lot of public land, and not a lot of people. In this case, the grant funded a watershed coordinator for the North Fork Feather River watershed. With this information in hand, the study team can review documentation (e.g. proposals, final reports) to further identify the stakeholders involved in watershed coordinator activities, and also what sorts of outcomes were expressed by the Sierra Institute themselves in writing. This begins a process of engaging with stakeholders in emails or phone calls, and ultimately in-person interviews.
There is seemingly a lot to be learned just through the geography and documentation associated with a specific grant. While this information lays a foundation, it is engaging with the individuals associated with the grants that paints a truly vivid picture. Tune in next week to hear more about the process for this exciting project!
Check out last week’s project spotlight post.
Read more about Sierra Institute’s role in watershed coordination here!
Photos by: JRO
Article written by JRO for Project Spotlight.