Watershed management approaches are evolving throughout the country and are being used to address watersheds that have multiple problems. Based on successful watershed management efforts like these across the country, this tutorial presents four core principles of watershed management:
1. Watersheds are natural systems that we can work with.
2. Watershed management is continuous and needs a multi-disciplinary approach.
3. A watershed management framework supports partnering, using sound science, taking well-planned actions and achieving results.
4. A flexible approach is always needed.
a. Delineating the Watershed
A watershed is simply the land that water flows across or through on its way to a common stream, river, or lake. A watershed can be very large (e.g. draining thousands of square miles to a major river or lake or the ocean), or very small, such as a 20-acre watershed that drains to a pond. A small watershed that nests inside of a larger watershed is sometimes referred to as a sub watershed.
You can delineate a watershed (or many watersheds) on topographic (topo) maps using symbols for important entities: lines symbolizing water and elevation contour lines indicating areas of equal height above sea level. Since water flows downhill from higher elevations to a common body of water, to delineate the watershed boundary for a particular place on a stream or lake, you will need to draw a line along the ridgetops connecting the highest elevation points surrounding the lake or stream. Fortunately, there are maps and computer databases you can turn to that have watershed boundaries already delineated--particularly for larger basins and watersheds. What pops up is the watershed boundary with major streams, lakes and cities in the watershed highlighted. Some experts like to categorize the hydrography or water bodies within a watershed by a classification system referred to as stream order. For example, when... [continues]
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