desgin workshopsFor those interested in designing a wetlands regulatory workshop that teaches citizens about the Clean Water Act and how to avoid violations, read this overview of Project POWER. (Project POWER: Protecting our Wetlands with Educators and Regulators) Additional resources are provided as well. Click on 'read more' to view the article.

Educating Citizens About the Importance of Wetlands and How to Avoid Violations of the Clean Water Act

Several city, state and regional wetland programs around the country have incorporated wetlands education into their dredge & fill penalty programs. This type of wetland education workshops are geared for either violators or advocates of wetland laws, permits and regulations-and sometimes both, when a class is designed for a general audience and takes a preventative approach, rather than after violations occur.

Project POWER: Protecting our Wetlands with Educators and Regulators combines the talents and resources of aquaria and regulatory agencies. Dr. Merryl Kafka at the New York Aquarium is the current director of Project POWER in New York. The program was founded by James Gilmore, Jr., who is the regional supervisor for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Dr. Kafka says, "it's a model not a mandate." The collaborative Project POWER workshop model has sent off-shoots like rhizomes all over the country to at least 13 other state and regional wetland programs. Project POWER partners are located in Washington, California, North Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida. Many of these programs have tailored their wetland education workshops to the needs of specific communities at the local, state and regional levels.

These four worksheets, which were developed by Project POWER in New York, may be useful in designing a variation of a Project POWER workshop or class in your city, county, state or region. One thing that may distinguish a new wetlands workshop program from others is the target audience. Will the workshop be aimed at violators of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act? Will the class be free and open to the public? Will violators and concerned citizens be mixed together for the purpose of creating positive peer-pressure and wetland advocacy? Will there be any incentives for violators to attend the class, such as reduced fines? Or will this be largely preventative and aimed at a general audience?

ASWM identified a few wetland workshop programs that included a field component to the education. The City of Norfolk, Virginia, for example, takes workshop participants-both violators and concerned citizens, into local, familiar wetlands, where they seine for fish, dig for critters and learn to identify wetland plants. For a link to ASWM's recent article on Understanding Local, State and Federal Dredge & Fill Penalty Programs, click here.