2.1 Goals and objectives

A critical feature of the Report Card is the selection of indicators, which were chosen based on consideration of stakeholder goals and objectives for the Feather River Watershed. Watershed goals and objectives were derived from a broad list of regional and local stakeholder goals and objectives. A comprehensive list of goals and objectives was compiled using three methods to insure that goals pertaining to each EWA were represented. Active watershed stakeholders were surveyed by electronic mail. Goals and objectives were extracted from planning documents and mission statements of various stakeholder organizations, including online documents of state and federal agencies that are active in the region. The project’s TAC was presented with the list of compiled goals and asked to add additional goals that were important and missing from the list. These were compiled into a comprehensive list of goals and objectives for the Sacramento River Basin (Table 2.1).

During this process, corresponding objectives were chosen from those found in planning documents beneath goals we used and sometimes using goal statements that in our system were objectives for other goals. Objectives were phrased in a way that enabled them to be measured and evaluated. This made the transition to indicators easier and more transparent.

Table 2.1. Regional watershed goals and objectives considered for the Report Card

Goals Icon Objectives
A. Maintain and improve water quality and supply to sustainably meet the needs of natural and human communities icon_water.png 1. Protect receiving waters from pollution to comply with current and future water quality regulations
2. Maintain water quality for healthy aquatic systems*
3. Protect the quality of drinking water supplies
4. Maintain and restore natural stream flows for aquatic and riparian communities*
5. Maintain water supplies to meet human needs within the watershed
B. Protect and enhance native aquatic and terrestrial species, especially sensitive and at-risk species and natural communities icon_species.png 1. Protect and enhance native fish populations, including anadromous fish*
2. Protect and enhance bird populations
3. Protect and enhance amphibian populations
4. Protect and enhance mammal populations*
5. Protect and enhance native invertebrate communities*
6. Discourage and reduce invasive, non-native species
C. Protect and enhance landscape and habitats structure and processes to benefit ecosystem and watershed functions icon_habitat.png 1. Protect and enhance riparian habitat quality
2. Protect and enhance wetland habitat quality
3. Protect and enhance aquatic habitat connectivity*
4. Protect and enhance terrestrial habitat connectivity*
5. Maintain and restore stream geomorphic processes
6. Optimize primary production and nutrient cycling to support aquatic and terrestrial communities* (for N)
7. Manage land-uses to reduce impacts on aquatic and terrestrial habitats
D. Maintain and restore natural disturbance processes that balance benefits for natural and human communities icon_fireflood.png 1. Reduce high severity fire frequency; encourage natural fire regimes that support native communities*
2. Reduce flood risk to human communities; encourage natural flood processes that support native communities*
3. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and encourage activities to adapt to climate change
E. Maintain and improve the social and economic conditions, including benefits from healthy watersheds icon_social.png icon_economic.png 1. Protect and enhance wildlife friendly agricultural practices*
2. Improve grazing management
3. Encourage sustainable land use practices
4. Improve community economic status in balance with watershed condition*
5. Improve community relationship with watershed processes
6. The watershed supports sustainable social practices
7. Support and improve human uses associated with watershed condition*
8. To have widespread community awareness and deep civic engagement in the protection and improvement of watersheds*

For the Feather River Watershed Report Card, a sub-set of the objectives were chosen (indicated with an asterisk in Table 2.1) based on a combination of how well they met the need for reporting on the condition in this watershed and whether or not data were likely to be available to evaluate the corresponding indicators. This sub-set is shown in Table 2.2.

Table 2.2. Feather River Report Card goals and objectives

Goal Objective
A. Maintain and improve water quality and supply to sustainably meet the needs of natural and human communities 1. Maintain water quality for healthy aquatic systems
2. Maintain and restore natural stream flows for aquatic and riparian communities
B. Protect and enhance native aquatic and terrestrial species, especially sensitive and at-risk species and natural communities 1. Protect and enhance native bird populations
2. Protect and enhance native aquatic invertebrate communities
3. Protect and enhance native fish populations
C. Protect and enhance landscape and habitats structure and processes to benefit ecosystem and watershed functions 1. Protect and enhance aquatic habitat connectivity
2. Protect and enhance terrestrial (native upland) habitat connectivity
3. Protect and maintain natural variability and rates of primary production and nutrient cycling
D. Maintain and restore natural disturbance processes that balance benefits for natural and human communities 1. Reduce high severity fire frequency to more natural levels; encourage natural fire regimes that support native communities
2. Reduce flood risk to human communities and encourage natural flood processes that support native communities
E. Maintain and improve the social and economic conditions, including benefits from healthy watersheds 1. Protect and enhance wildlife friendly agricultural practices
2. Improve community economic status in balance with watershed condition

2.1.1 -- Cross-walk between goals and objectives and attribute categories

Goals and objectives provide one framework for understanding how well a watershed or similar system is doing, but “system attributes” provide another. For example, you may have a personal goal that your cardiovascular system be capable of supporting a long life, which is linked to objectives you might set for heart rate, ability to exercise, etc. In this context your cardiac system is an attribute or category of organ(s) within your body. Similarly, natural systems can be broken up into attributes that together describe the whole. “Landscape condition” is one of the EWAs used in the WAF and addresses the structural integrity of the terrestrial landscape of the watershed. The other EWAs are: biotic condition, chemical/physical condition, hydrology/geomorphology, ecological processes, natural disturbance, social condition, and economic condition. These are the same attributes as in the USEPA SAB framework, with the addition of consideration of social and economic conditions (columns in Figure 2.1).

Figure 2.1. Organization of indicators within a matrix with 2 dimensions: goals and objectives (rows) and EWAs (columns)

2.1.2 — Correspondence between objectives and ecological condition indicators

A description of goals and objectives for the watershed or region being evaluated is central to the application of indicator frameworks in social and management decision-making. It is also extremely important that these objectives be measurable, as the next step is to choose indicators that can be used to evaluate progress toward the objectives and thereby assess progress towards the overall goals. Metrics are also needed for each indicator, if the indicator itself is not easily quantified. For example, water temperature can be an indicator, and is also a quantifiable metric. However, native fish populations can be an indicator, but would need to be quantified through metrics such as adult population size, reproduction rate, or population demographics. A critical and sometimes missing component of indicator system development is an explicit or transparent link between the goals for the system and the indicators chosen to represent the system condition. An example of a goal is to “maintain and improve water quality and supply to sustainably meet the needs of natural and human communities” (Table 2.3). The corresponding objectives are clearly understandable and each of the indicators is measurable.

Table 2.3 — Relationship between goal, objectives, and indicators

Goal Objectives Indicators
A. Maintain and improve water quality and supply to sustainably meet the needs of natural and human communities 1) Maintain water quality for healthy aquatic systems i. Periphyton Cover and Biomass
ii. Surface Water Temperature
iii. Mercury in Fish Tissue
2) Maintain and restore natural stream flows for aquatic and riparian communities i. Flow Patterns and Alteration

For each goal, objectives have been chosen that can be evaluated with either numeric or narrative approaches. For the indicators above, numeric evaluation is possible, assuming that thresholds or benchmarks are available against which to compare the numeric values.