To: Coordinating Committee, Spring Creek Watershed Community
From: Board of Directors, ClearWater Conservancy
Re: Proposal Regarding Long-term Support of the Spring Creek Watershed
Date: November 11 ~ 1998
At its November 5, 1998 meeting, the ClearWater Board of Directors discussed and took action on a recommendation to make explicit ClearWater's willingness, if the Watershed Community should also so desire, to serve as the long-term sponsor of the Spring Creek Watershed Community. ClearWater offers the following draft "Statement of Commitment" to the Coordinating Committee for its consideration and input. We suggest that it could be used as the basis for negotiating a working, cooperative relationship that will continue to be mutually beneficial.
Following the draft "Statement of Commitment" is the history of the ClearWater-Spring Creek Watershed Community relationship and the options that the ClearWater Board discussed as a part of our considerations on how best to foster and sustain the Watershed Community as a valuable stakeholde! process.
Statement of Commitment
Clear Water Conservancy is committed to the long-term protection and enhancement of the Spring Creek watershed. Clear Water is also committed to the long-term sustainability of the broad-based stakeholder forum known as the Spring Creek Watershed Community. Clear Water endorses the Mission and Goals adopted by the Spring Creek Watershed Community in October 1997 ( attached). If the Spring Creek Watershed Community also decides that the best option for maintaining the value and productivity of this stakeholder initiative is to allow ClearWater to continue serving as its sponsor, then Clear Water is pleased to make the following commitments:
A. Maintain the identity and activities of the Spring Creek Watershed Community as a project sponsored by Clear Water.
B. Maintain the Spring Creek Watershed Community as a broad-based stakeholder forum, with the Coordinating Committee as its planning group.
C. With the Coordinating Committee of the Spring Creek Watershed Community, establish and maintain a strategic and project planning process to ensure that Watershed Community priorities are givenfull and timely consideration during ClearWater's strategic planning and budgeting process.
D. Solicit funds, in the form of grants and donations, to maintain basic ongoing operations of the Watershed Community and carry out mutually agreed-upon Watershed Community projects.
E. Administer grants and projects of the Watershed Community.
F. Employ and supervise staff for the Watershed Community consistent with the needs andfunding of Watershed Community activities and the resources available to do so.
G. Undertake the above responsibilities in a way that continues to foster the Watershed Community's ability to operate with a degree of autonomy, consistent with the scope of work set forth in the DEP contract presently funding the Watershed Community, and consistent with ClearWater's legal and.fiduciary obligations.
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At its November 5, 1998 meeting, the ClearWater Conservancy Board of Directors considered the following historical perspectives and options.
I. BACKGROUND In 1996, the ClearWater Conservancy obtained a grant to host an International Countryside Stewardship Exchange team in the Spring Creek watershed. To broaden the base of stakeholders involved in activities to protect and enhance the Spring Creek watershed, ClearWater created a Steering Committee to plan and conduct the Exchange program. ClearWater directors and staff made a conscious decision to participate as equal stakeholders with other organizations and individuals, allowing the leadership for the Exchange to emerge from the Steering Committee. This strategy was successful, and at the conclusion of the Exchange the Steering Committee members present at a meeting in early 1997 voted to form the Spring Creek Watershed Community .
Subsequently, in mid-1997 , the ClearWater Conservancy obtained a multi-year grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to undertake, as the contractual sponsor of the watershed project, specific activities to maintain and expand the Spring Creek Watershed Cominunity. This grant made possible the hiring of a part-time Spring Creek watershed coordinator and the publication of a bimonthly newsletter devoted to Spring Creek Watershed- related items. ClearWater directors, members, and staff continued to participate as stakeholders in the Spring Creek Watershed Community , again consciously fostering the Watershed Community leadership to function without control by ClearWater's board of directors.
II. ISSUES This arrangement has worked well to convey to the public the image of the Spring Creek Watershed Community as a broad-based stakeholder forum not controlled by anyone of the individual stakeholders. It has fostered the participation of some stakeholders who may have been reluctant initially to associate themselves with a project clearly identified as ClearWater's. Also, the Watershed Community and its Coordinating Committee have been largely freed from the demands and constraints of staff and budget administration. Thus the Watershed Community has been able to focus its energies on fostering broad- based discussion of issues, continuing stakeholder development, strategic planning for protection and enhancement of the watershed, and initiating and promoting projects through a myriad of action groups. It is fair to say that ClearWater on its own could not have maintained the high level of activity related to Spring Creek that the Watershed Community has been able to do for the past two years. On the other hand, this arrangement has caused misperceptions to develop about the nature of the Community (independent organization vs. project of ClearWater). In reality, the Watershed Community is not an "organization" in any legal or actual sense. The Coordinating Committee is self-appointed; no by- laws exist for it. None of the structure of an organization exists, such as members, elected directors, or officers. Under the terms of the DEP contract that has funded the activities of the Watershed Community to date, the Community is a "project" sponsored by the ClearWater Conservancy. The Conservancy is required to retain ultimate control over the project. The ambiguity in our communication of the relationship between ClearWater and the Watershed Community , which was useful at the outset, is now confusing.
In addition to its corporate sponsorship of the Spring Creek Watershed, the ClearWater Conservancy has independently demonstrated its continuing commitment to Spring Creek during the past two years. ClearWater obtained a DCNR Rivers Conservation planning grant to complete the Spring Creek Corridor Study. Phase One of the Corridor Study was funded by ClearWater in 1993-94. ClearWater also obtained grants to prepare a Management Plan for Millbrook Marsh, and to design and implement a riparian forest-planting project along Spring Creek at the military museum in Boalsburg.
III. DECISIONS TO BE MADE The Spring Creek Watershed Community and the ClearWater Conservancy must now face the question of the long-term sustainability of the watershed initiative. The DEP grant will end on September 30, 1999. Sustainability cannot be addressed until the "identity issue" is resolved. Specific projects of the Watershed Community that require funding must have a corporate entity ready to solicit, accept, and administer grants and donations. There are two basic options between which the Watershed Community and ClearWater must choose. These two options are identified below. We have provided our opinions about some of the advantages and disadvantages of each.
1. Acknowledge and clarify the current relationship between ClearWater and the Spring Creek Watershed Community, and continue the Watershed Community as a project sponsored by ClearWater Conservancy. This has worked well to date and ClearWater and the Watershed Community have mutually benefited. The current relationship permits the energies of the participants in the Watershed C
2. Incorporate the Watershed Community as an independent non-profit organization. The principal motivation for incorporation is to enable the Watershed Community to raise money for its projects and secondarily to free the Community from the status of a proj ect of Clear Water .The latter would enable the Watershed Community to make decisions and conduct business as an independent organization, which it cannot do under the present arrangement.
IV. RECOMMENDATION It is the ClearWater Board's opinion that it is in the best interests ofboth ClearWater and the Watershed Community for the Watershed Community to continue to be sponsored by ClearWater, with a degree of autonomy consistent with ClearWater's legal responsibilities and organizational interests. The Community should be a broad-based stakeholder forum pursuing an agenda faithful to the scope of work of the existing proj ect grant from D EP . The Watershed Community's emphasis should continue to be on the engagement of the full range of stakeholders in the watershed, recognizing that the interests of stakeholders will conflict from time to time. Stakeholders who become involved in the community must be able to do so on the basis that each stakeholder is entitled to that stakeholder's individual interests. Incorporation of the community will tend to subordinate stakeholders' identities and interests to that of the organization. Directors may be drawn from a wide spectrum of the stakeholder community , but in acting as directors they are expected to subordinate individual interests to that of the corporation. It will be difficult for all governmental participants and many business entities to do that. As it exists now the Watershed Community fulfills a unique role. As a corporation it most likely will simply attempt to duplicate what ClearWater is now doing. The end result will be that two organizations will compete for the limited resources available for watershe,d- related work. Unless ClearWater commits itself to sustaining the Watershed Community movement, however, the Community will have no choice but to choose an independent course of action.
Therefore, based on the above analysis, the Board of Directors of the ClearWater Conservancy chooses to commit itself to the first option --long-term sponsorship of the Watershed Community. With this choice, the Board offers, as both a stakeholder and sponsor, the stated commitments to the Watershed Community.