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Update: White Paper Deciphers Success of FWPP’s Community Partnerships

As we continue building our Watershed Investment Network, we looked back on one of our favorite success stories, The Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project (FWPP), a champion of collaboration in the name of healthy headwaters.

The Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project: Creating Solutions through Community Partnerships white paper is a case study of the first two years of the FWPP. It presents a comprehensive summary of the steps used to plan and implement the FWPP, and provides links to documents that were integral to the success of the project, such as the implementation plan, communication plan, and agreements between the parties involved (i.e. MOUs, master participating agreements, and financial planning forms).

This project is especially inspiring because groups came together from all sectors, including government agencies, private entities, and the general public, to invest in their healthy headwaters. A recurring theme in this white paper is one of collaboration; in order for this project to work, trust needed to be built and maintained between the groups completing on-the-ground work. Buy-in from the community was also essential to the passing of the bond and implementation of the FWPP.

The immense success of the City of Flagstaff’s choice to fund the project using bond financing instead of a utility user fee or sales tax is exemplified by the support the FWPP has gained from the public and national-level government officials. An important step in building that support was getting people and the bond issuer to agree that the headwaters were part of their water infrastructure. How did they manage to communicate that value? Paul Summerfelt sums it up best – “We weren’t bonding for a green forest or for no smoke, but for water. If we talk utility infrastructure and water – we need to look at the source as important as anything. The forest we don’t own is our infrastructure.” From holding public meetings to providing detailed records of how each dollar is spent, the support for this project is rooted in the transparency of it.

As of October 2015, the Final Record of Decision for the Environmental Impact Statement was signed, which “approved treatments on the remainder of the National Forest lands within the FWPP boundary” and signifies that the project can continue to move forward.

We encourage you to check out this case study and become inspired to begin a watershed protection project in your community. Carpe Diem!

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