Riparian Outreach Group in Cariboo Chilcotin

Changing how we work together

In 2008, stewardship leaders from several regions convened to consider new behaviour change strategies suggested by the questions

  • What voluntary behaviour changes, and by who, will help conserve the watershed?
  • Which of these are highest priority, considering both impact and willingness to change?
  • How can we best promote the highest priority behaviour changes?

In the Cariboo Chilcotin, the process was led by Baker Creek Enhancement Society and engaged regional, provincial and federal agencies. The result was the formation of the Riparian Outreach Group, a new collaboration to analyze how riparian areas were being degraded and what sectors might be receptive to voluntary change rather than the regulation and enforcement approach. A key issue driving their quest for a new approach is the inability of protection agencies to monitor riparian areas in remote locations. The group identified independent equipment operators and land surveyors, the practitioners preparing land for development, as offering the most potential to protect riparian areas through voluntary change.

Lake front houses

Those practitioners that are first to prepare land for development can better help protect riparian areas if they are kept informed about best practices and the rationale behind regulations.

Initial contact with these practitioners, through a focus group and exploratory conversations, revealed the need for practical tools and knowledge. The Riparian Outreach Group developed workshops and compiled materials to fill these gaps. And, realizing that these practitioners would be more receptive to advice from their professional peers than directly from environmental organizations, the group expanded their collaboration to include professional organizations such as the BC Land Surveyors.

The Riparian Outreach Group continues to offer workshops,and has now begun to explore opportunities for voluntary change from residents with riparian land.

Posted by Megan Moser in "Water & Habitat"in "Engagement" on 4/27