ARPC staff fill the coordinator and administrator positions for the Riparian County Stakeholder Coalition (RCSC). The RCSC, comprised of the six riparian counties that border the Apalachicola River, includes Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, and Liberty counties. The RCSC was created by Resolution in 2007 and by Compact Agreement in 2012 to protect, support, and maintain the values of the Apalachicola River riparian counties both individually and collectively. The RCSC allows for the six counties to speak in one unified voice, provide a one point-of-contact for management issues and programs relating to the Apalachicola River, and promote the need for State and Federal funding to conduct technical evaluations and documentation.
Riparian County Stakeholder Coalition (RCSC)
- ARPC staff was sponsored by Restore America’s Estuaries to attend the Blue Carbon: Taking the Next Steps Gulf Regional workshop. The workshop addressed topics including the importance marine and coastal systems have on both climate and hazard mitigation and the role blue carbon has in the current and future economy. As Greenhouse Gases rise, estuaries and other natural systems play important roles in storing carbon and methane. Functional estuaries and other wetlands hold much greater quantities of these gases than disturbed, developed, or altered versions. The wetlands, floodplains and estuarine areas of the Apalachicola Basin hold massive amounts of carbon when fully functional and funding is possible in the future to protect and restore this resource. https://estuaries.org/bluecarbon-workshops
- In February, ARPC staff was invited to join American Rivers and River Network to meet with EPA Region 4 Water Division Director Mary Walker and staff to discuss the conservation and sustainability of stream flows in the Southeast. Staff was able to discuss EPA’s newly released Clean Water Act guidance on hydrologic alteration, understanding what qualifies as hydrologic alteration, and how to submit hydrologically impaired waters for listing by State and Tribal water quality agencies. Since these meetings, ARPC Staff is working with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Apalachicola Riverkeeper and American Rivers to develop language for potential addition to the list of State recognized impairments to later demonstrate hydrologic impairment in the Apalachicola River. This requires proving one or more designated use recognized under the Clean Water Act, such as aquatic life, primary or secondary contact recreation, drinking water, etc., is not being met due to flow alteration.
- The RCSC has a major new project in the works:
The first is a renewed purpose for the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Stakeholders, Inc. ARPC Staff Joe Crozier serves on an ad hoc committee working to develop a scope for a Predictive Drought Management and Planning project collaborating with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and NOAA.
ARPC staff recently published the first RCSC Quarterly Newsletter!
The agenda for first meeting of 2017:
The Riparian County Stakeholders Coalition submitted a project referred to as the Comprehensive Apalachicola Recovery and Management Plan into the Florida Department of Environmental Protection RESTORE Portal on February 16, 2016.
The proposed Comprehensive Apalachicola Watershed Recovery and Management Plan would include:
1) an inclusive and broad planning process that addresses the needs of a diverse group of the Apalachicola Watershed’s stakeholders;
2) a recognition of the balance between ecosystem, community, and economic health;
3) an understanding that activities on the land have an impact on adjoining water bodies; and
4) a focus on continuing the State of Florida and Federal Agencies’ goals of restoring, protecting and maintaining the viability of the ecological functions of the natural system and the natural resource based economy that these functions support.
The Comprehensive Apalachicola Watershed Recovery and Management Plan initiative recognizes that there are many studies and projects underway or proposed to benefit the environmental quality of the Apalachicola Watershed. However, there is no single document that ties all the efforts together in a comprehensive integrated watershed plan. There is a need for the stakeholders that live and work in the Apalachicola Watershed to have an opportunity to be actively engaged in the future of the Watershed. Local stakeholders will be coordinated and involved through the Riparian County Stakeholder Coalition (RCSC). The Apalachee Regional Planning Council (ARPC) will administer and coordinate the project including but not limited to: contracting with the FL Dept. of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and other sub-consultants as needed; organizing the stakeholders; and coordinating the activities of the RCSC.
The scope of work for the proposed project will be built upon existing planning efforts occurring in the Apalachicola Watershed, most notably the updating of the Apalachicola River and Bay Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) Plan as well as upon other reports such as: the ACF Stakeholders Sustainable Water Management Plan (SWMP); the Apalachicola River Mussel Habitat Restoration/Fluvial Geomorphic Assessment; and other Apalachicola Bay Watershed Restoration projects funded by the Gulf Restoration Council, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Additionally, local comprehensive plans will be paramount as this effort views local government and stakeholder engagement as absolute essentials in order to achieve effective implementation of the Comprehensive Apalachicola Watershed Recovery and Management Plan.
This project is number 1428 and full project submission can be found here.