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This St. Joseph River Watershed Management Plan (WMP) is a revision of the original plan prepared by the St. Joseph River Watershed Initiative (SJRWI) and approved by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) in February, 2001 as a part of a Section 319 Project, ARN 98-180. In 2003, IDEM revised the requirements for planning documents in order to meet standards set forth by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This document will bring the St. Joseph River WMP into compliance with those requirements.
The purpose of this WMP is to guide stakeholders in the St. Joseph River watershed in their efforts to protect, restore and enjoy the river and its resources. The plan provides a benchmark of the watershed, allowing us to understand where we are today. It communicates our vision, allowing us to project where we want to be in the future. It lays out a road map, allowing us to chart how we will go about moving toward our vision. And finally, it establishes our goals, so we can measure our progress.
Nine watersheds on the HUC-11 scale comprise the HUC-8 St. Joseph River watershed. Per the goals of the original plan, efforts have been underway to create WMP for several of these sub-watersheds, including Upper and Lower Cedar Creek, and the Lower St. Joseph and Bear Creek (IN) watersheds. The Fish Creek watershed has been the focus of The Nature Conservancy’s Upper St. Joseph River Project for many years. The remaining subwatersheds as yet do not have planning efforts underway.
Much of the data that support this WMP has been collected over the past ten years by the SJRWI in its effort to fulfill its mission to work with partners to promote economical and environmentally compatible land uses that improve water quality in the St. Joseph River watershed. These efforts have been supported by partners in federal, state and local government, non-profit organizations, private sector industry, and local citizens. Some of the data and information in this plan was originally gathered for the subwatershed plans referenced above.
Public input for this updated plan has been gathered from events, meetings and conferences across the watershed over the last two years. These were local watershed planning and informational meetings; county watershed planning meetings; county comprehensive planning meetings; land use conferences; Western Lake Erie and Great Lakes water issues conferences; meetings of a partnership of local governments; and regular meetings and communication among the various partners involved in the SJRWI.
Information from all of these sources, as well as feedback from partners and participants in various watershed projects over the past ten years have been considered in the update of this plan. A draft of this WMP will be submitted for review and comment by the public and partners of the SJRWI, as well as IDEM, OEPA, and MDEQ, prior to finalizing the document. The draft will be available on the Initiative’s Web site. The progress of the watershed management planning and implementation effort will be reviewed by the SJRWI and its partners every two years in order to review goals, evaluate progress and assess and update indicators as necessary.