Arroyo Colorado

January 24, 2006

Dear Arroyo Partners,

In regards to finalizing the development of the watershed protection plan for the Arroyo Colorado, 2006 has started off with good momentum. We had a good turn-out at last week's Steering Committee meeting and the second newsletter of the Arroyo Colorado Watershed Partnership was mailed out. If you did not get a copy of the newsletter and would like to receive our occasional mail-outs, please email your mailing address and I will put you on the mailing list.

Last week we had two very productive meetings. The Habitat Work Group met all day Thursday to refine elements of that component of the plan and to develop an implementation matrix. Attached are the draft matrices for the different work groups to date. We still need to fill in some of the blanks and possibly add other measures/tasks, but these matrices summarize a major component of the plan. We reviewed these at the Steering Committee meeting held the evening of January 19, 2006, along with having a lively session on the "branding" of our campaign and the development of a logo. Our consultants will be testing what came out of the discussion on four focus groups and in the near future I hope to send you a short list of brands and logos for your comments. As far as the measures/tasks listed, your comments are welcomed.

We also had an informative presentation by Bill Norris of NRS Consulting Engineers, on the proposed aeration/weir structures. Our chairman, Dr. Jude Benavides will be polling the Steering Committee for their vote on whether or not to formally support this project in the Arroyo WPP. In the meantime, I am planning a field trip to see, and possibly measure, the effects of a similar structure near Mercedes. We will also view the proposed sites in Harlingen and discuss how these structures could be designed to address all the environmental and social concerns. If you would like to go on this trip, please let me know. We do not have a firm date, and at this point the second week in February is looking good.

The Steering Committee meeting ended with a brief discussion on a few grants that we should apply for. The first one is a USDA, Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG). This grant is a voluntary program intended to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies while leveraging Federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection, in conjunction with agricultural production. More information can be found at www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/cig/. The Sustainable Agronomic Education Association is interested in taking the lead in applying for this grant and the Steering Committee gave approval.

We will also be applying for the EPA FY06 Regional Geographic Initiative grant. More information can be found at www.epa.gov/earth1R9/gandf/index.htm. With the Steering Committee approval, Dr. Jude Benavides is taking the lead in applying for this grant. Dr. Benavides will be scheduling a meeting in the near future to discuss the coordination of a regional GIS that we can use in the monitoring and restoration of the Arroyo. If you are interested in participating, contact Dr. Benavides at jbenavides@utb.edu.

There are additional grants out there and I will forward information as it comes in. At this time, my main focus needs to be the drafting of the plan. We had hoped to have a good draft for your review by the end of this month but we now have a revised schedule in order to accommodate a few more work group meetings and a Steering Committee meeting for final review. I plan to have an integrated draft completed by February 17. This draft will be sent out for technical review and then to the Partnership for comments. The next Steering Committee meeting is scheduled for March 30, 2006 for final plan approval. I will keep you posted and will send out chapters after the first round of peer reviews.

On a final note, my listserv manager is showing a few duplications. If you are getting this notice more than once, please let me know so I can correct it.

Thanks for your time and participation,

Laura