National Estuary Program 2008 - 2010 Program Evaluation Report

The National Estuary Programs (NEPs) are place-based watershed management entities that restore and protect 28 estuarine watersheds along the coasts of the continental U.S. and Puerto Rico. This 2008 - 2010 Program Evaluation (PE) Report summarizes the results of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-led evaluations of the NEPs that were conducted between February 2008 and September 2010. The PE is a systematic, rigorous assessment that tells a national story about NEP accomplishments and challenges while acknowledging differences in management approaches, in ecosystem type and size, and in human impacts across the 28 watersheds. The 2008 - 2010 PE results reveal the following: • All 28 programs achieved a pass rating and were eligible to receive funding under Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 320. • Every NEP and its partners supported implementation of CWA core programs. • Every NEP made progress addressing the challenges that were highlighted during the 2004 - 2006 PE. • The NEPs' three main strengths were: (1) Outreach and public involvement (78 percent) (e.g., newsletters, ecological exhibits, and creation of diversity committees). (2) Assessment and monitoring (46 percent) (e.g., indicators in place, volunteer monitoring groups, and monitoring plans approved by management conferences). (3) Habitat protection and restoration (36 percent) (e.g., recovering sea grass, improving habitat for salmonids, and restoring impounded marshes). • The NEPs' three main challenges were: (1) Financial management (50 percent) (e.g., inadequate long-term funding mechanisms, insufficiently diverse funding sources, and unexpended grant funds). (2) Program planning and administration (46 percent) (e.g., need to maintain staffing levels, need to improve program visibility, need to revise the comprehensive conservation and management plan (CCMP), and need to incorporate emerging issues). (3) Water quality (36 percent) (e.g., need to address nonpoint source pollution by identifying sources, need to identify sites where best management practices are needed for nutrient reduction, and need to establish water quality targets to advance seagrass restoration). • The NEPs leveraged $3.5 billion during the 2008 - 2010 period, which represented a 100 percent increase over funds leveraged by NEPs reviewed during the 2004 - 2006 review cycle. The PE process has proven to be an effective evidence-based management process that ensures national program accountability and transparency and demonstrates the value of wise federal investment in estuarine and coastal watershed restoration and protection at the local and regional levels.
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Environmental Protection Agency
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Minnesota Water Research Digital Library
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