First Community Workshop Held September 22, 2010
by Mike Swezy
Lovers of the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed assembled at Bacich Elementary School in Kentfield on September 22 for an evening of lively discussion about forming an independent community-based “Friends” organization to support the district in maintaining the long-term health of the watershed. Just over 90 citizens—representatives from various interest groups including conservationists, bikers, hikers, equestrians and educators as well as a significant number of unaffiliated friends and neighbors of the watershed—gathered to provide feedback to the district and its consultant California Environmental Associates (CEA). We are in the midst of developing a model and business plan for the new venture that would promote stewardship, water quality and education.
As MMWD watershed manager, I laid out the history of the district’s evolving watershed management program and identified key needs that cannot be adequately funded by district monies alone. Ellie Cohen, president of PRBO Conservation Science, delivered the keynote, emphasizing the significance of the district’s lands as water supply and biological refuge for threatened species. She reiterated the need for private funding to support local conservation efforts that provide regional and even global benefit. Amy Dickie from CEA described the district’s process for developing a “Friends” organization, and Janet Klein, MMWD’s natural resources manager, led the attendees in a brainstorming and project prioritization activity. Board members Jack Gibson and Armando Quintero framed the discussion with opening and closing remarks that emphasized the need for active partners and stewards.
The draft mission statement of this as-yet-unnamed organization is “to promote community stewardship of the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed to preserve and enhance its long-term ecological value for natural habitat, biodiversity, education, water quality and recreation.”
The draft goals for this organization are to:
- Transform users of the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed into active stewards of the resource who treat it with exceptional care.
- Ensure that adequate financial and human resources are available for effective natural resource management of the watershed.
- Serve a convening role for the many organizations that have a special interest in the watershed to collectively work towards a common vision for the watershed.
A meeting tentatively scheduled for October 27 will review a draft business plan for a fledging “Friends” organization. A third community meeting will be held in November. Additional information about this new organization will be available soon on our website, and updates will be published here on Think Blue Marin.