Critical Issues and Areas
Critical issues and areas affecting the condition of each watershed were identified from multiple sources, including Steering Committee resource knowledge, interviews with knowledgeable experts, input from citizens within the watersheds via public workshops, results of field reconnaissance conducted by the field team, review and interpretation of current and historical data, and analyses of historic aerial photography and maps. Critical issues and areas for each watershed are:
Erosion and Sedimentation
Habitat Protection and Preservation
Lack of Agricultural Buffer Strips
Recommended Management Measures
Public education and outreach
Increase conservation easements and protected habitats
Install living shorelines
Increase vegetative buffers
Implement invasive species treatment and monitoring
Protect continued use of biological resources to preserve culture, heritage, and knowledge of the watersheds
Implement water quality monitoring-ongoing project
Initiate and implement the Alabama-Mississippi Clean Marinas Program
Install regional stormwater management facilities
Implement stream restoration projects
Conduct studies to determine the effects of expanding impervious cover on groundwater recharge
Successfully addressing the critical issues and areas identified in this WMP will require an entity who will champion watershed management, building on the momentum generated while developing the WMP. Since many of the critical issues extend beyond political and jurisdictional boundaries and will need the cooperation of landowners and the general public, the initial implementation strategy includes establishing a Watershed Management Task Force (WMTF). The primary responsibility of the WMTF will be overseeing implementation of the management measures, many simultaneously, and providing a platform for coordination on matters that affect local water quality conditions and natural and recreational resources.
Feedback gained through the stakeholder and public outreach efforts associated with this WMP stressed the need for short-term wins or tangible successes promptly following WMP adoption to gain the confidence of the stakeholders and build on the momentum generated through WMP development. Parallel with this need to capture early successes is the need to foster and harness interest in environmental stewardship of the watersheds. With these considerations in mind, management measures were grouped into two phases. Short-term management measures were chosen based on their likelihood of successful implementation within the next 2 years. However, not all of the critical issues identified within this WMP can be addressed within 2 years of WMP implementation. For example, stormwater management within the watersheds will require coordination with private landowners and secure funding to implement actions that will have the greatest economic value. Thus, several of the recommended management measures have been put into a long-term phase of WMP implementation.
On a routine basis (e.g., annually), the WMTF should assess progress toward meeting WMP goals and objectives for each of the three watersheds. Results of performance monitoring should be used to assess whether specific management measures are addressing the critical issues and areas they were designed to address or whether adjustments need to be made.
Monitoring is an essential component to the success of this WMP. Routine monitoring of the three watersheds will allow the WMTF to track progress over time to assess the effectiveness of implemented management measures and determine whether changes or additional actions are needed to achieve the goals and objectives of the WMP. Data collected during the monitoring phase will help establish baseline conditions for future assessments and identify new watershed issues that may not currently be known or may arise in the future. Compared to other watersheds in the region, relatively little data exist for the Bon Secour River, Oyster Bay, and Skunk Bayou watersheds, making a full assessment of current watershed conditions or comparison to historical conditions more challenging. Citizen participation through volunteering is a key element of the Watershed Monitoring and Sampling Plan. Community members will be encouraged to play an active role in watershed management by volunteering to collect data as members of field sampling teams and participating in public outreach events such as the annual Alabama Coastal Cleanup. Citizen participation in watershed monitoring and sampling will not only enable successful implementation but also will establish a sense of community ownership in the watersheds.
identified monitoring sites
Adaptive management will be implemented to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of implemented management measures and consist of an annual review of progress reports for each watershed and comparison of watershed conditions against goals and objectives identified in this WMP. This review and comparison will allow decision makers to evaluate the success of implemented management measures and recommend changes or additional management measures needed to achieve stated goals and objectives. Adaptive management will ensure that implementation strategies are constantly being evaluated and updated based on the best available science and adjusted according to changing watershed conditions. Adaptive management will also ensure that staff time and funding resources are used in the most efficient way possible to produce measurable results.
Monitoring Data and Research Studies
- Bon Secour River Watershed Survey-ADEM Technical Report, 1996
- Bon Secour River Watershed Sedimentation and Water Quality Assessment, 2014
- Bon Secour, Intercoastal Waterway, Oyster Bay Sub Estuary Monitoring Program Report 2008
- Bon Secour River Pathogens TMDL Report, 2009