Developing measures of success for the Etowah River basin
Davis, Mary M.
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The Nature Conservancy (TNC) works to protect the viability of ecological resources in conservation areas with high biological diversity. The Etowah River basin in north Georgia was chosen by TNC as a priority site based on the high aquatic biological diversity in the watershed. Sprawling suburban development from metro Atlanta is rapidly encroaching the watershed and results in major stresses to the aquatic life in the basin. Significant sources of stress in the Etowah include residential and commercial development, water supply development, and road and utility development. TNC develops a conservation area plan for each site where it works. The plan identifies targets that represent the biodiversity of the ecosystem, the stresses that negatively impact the targets, strategies to protect the targets, and measures of success to monitor the status of the targets and effectiveness of the threat abatement strategies. Measures of success are relatively new to the planning process, and the Etowah was chosen by TNC to be a case study to develop measures of success for head-water rivers of the Southeastern United States. Measures of success are being developed to determine status of resources and protection strategies in the Etowah River basin. The “resource” measures include physical/hydrological measures, biological measures, and landscape measures. Threshold levels are identified for each indicator including desired ecological condition and minimum viable condition. Protection measures are also being developed to determine the effectiveness of the strategies designed to protect the aquatic biodiversity in the Etowah River basin.