Raccoon Creek.  Photo credit:  The Nature Conservancy.

The Southeast Watershed Forum has been awarded $54,745 in funding from the U.S. EPA Southeastern Regional Targeted Watershed Initiative. The Forum will partner with the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership (SARP) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) on habitat restoration and watershed protection in the Raccoon Creek area of the Etowah River Watershed in Georgia. TNC has been working on river restoration and land conservation in Raccoon Creek. The work to be completed under this grant is aligned with the goals and objectives of the SARP-directed Southeast Aquatic Habitat Plan, which addresses threats to aquatic resources and key habitat protections. 

 The cooperative project will showcase the need to sustain gains in habitat and watershed improvement through the implementation of wiser land use practices. The partners will work to better align watershed and conservation planning with county land use planning to ensure long-term benefits for prime habitat and water quality. While program planning will occur later this fall, most of the work in the watershed will occur throughout 2013.

“The Southeast Watershed Forum is looking forward to working with SARP and TNC on this project. SARP has been our long-time partner on habitat conservation work and now we also have a chance to work with TNC in one of the most aquatically diverse watersheds in our region,” said Christine Olsenius, Forum Executive Director.

SARP Coordinator, Scott Robinson expressed that, “SARP is pleased to be working with SEWF, TNC and local Georgia communities to encourage conservation-oriented growth practices and habitat protections to benefit fish and wildlife in the Raccoon Creek Watershed.”

The project will build on conservation planning, land protection and restoration efforts that TNC and its partners have implemented.  According to Kathleen Owens, Upper Coosa River Program Director, “The Nature Conservancy is thrilled about the opportunity for technical assistance focused on protecting and restoring critical Raccoon Creek habitat.  While TNC and partners have made significant strides in terms of conservation planning and land protection, we have not had a chance to focus directly on county land use planning and identify specific land use practices that could be implemented to protect and improve the watershed.  We see this partnership as a valuable resource to fill that void.”  While program planning will occur later this fall, most of the work in the watershed will occur throughout 2013.