Best Practices

A Best Practice is the belief that there is a technique, method, process, activity, incentive or reward that is more effective at delivering a particular outcome than any other technique, method, process, etc. The idea is that with proper processes, checks, and testing, a desired outcome can be delivered with fewer problems and unforeseen complications. Best practices can also be defined as the most efficient (least amount of effort) and effective (best results) way of accomplishing a task, based on repeatable procedures that have proven themselves over time for large numbers of people. Wikipedia


Assessment/Planning/Design Project Implementation Monitoring/Evaluation




A Primer on Habitat Project Costs

This primer is designed to help watershed groups estimate the costs of their salmon recovery strategies. It focuses on the capital costs of habitat acquisition and restoration projects and includes cost estimates for construction, design, permitting, appraisal, basic monitoring, routine maintenance, reestablishing the site to prior conditions, and project management costs that are normally associated with implementing a capital project.


Assessing the Potential for Urban Watershed Protection

This article uses experiences from the Mid-Atlantic region over the last five years to present a detailed method for assessing and identifying restoration opportunities and analyzing, at subwatershed scale, whether restoration is possible.


Community Environmental Projects: From Needs Assessment to Evaluation

Whether you already have experience in designing, planning and carrying out environmental projects or are forming an environmental organization for the first time, this guide will provide valuable assistance in coordinating an environmental improvement project in your community.


Community Wildlife Toolkit

Provided by Devon County Council, this Toolkit is intended to provide the kind of basic information you need to get started on improving your local environment, whether you are an individual or member of a community group. There is some practical advice on the opportunities for conserving and re-creating some of Devon’s key habitats, as well as suggestions for community projects, ideas on obtaining funding and pointers to additional information.


Ecological Restoration Guidelines for British Columbia

These guidelines are designed to inform and guide groups undertaking restoration programs, regardless of funding source or type of project. Because every restoration site is different, the emphasis is on identifying important components common to all restoration projects, and on providing suggestions for finding resources and developing project-specific plans.


EPA Wetlands Modules

The following modules were created to give states and tribes “state-of-the-science” information that will help them develop biological assessment methods to evaluate both the overall ecological condition of wetlands and nutrient enrichment.


Estuary Assessment

This estuary assessment and prioritization method constitutes Component XII of the Oregon Watershed Assessment Manual (Watershed Professionals Network 1999). It is designed for use by someone with little familiarity with tidal wetlands and can serve as a stand-alone method, although it is best used as a component of the larger assessment.


Ground Work: Investigating the Need for Nature in the City

This report examines the environmental, social and economic costs and benefits associated with integrating nature into the urban environment. It provides an overview of existing research undertaken on this subject, in Canada and around the world, and includes a comprehensive annotated bibliography profiling a selection of the leading related publications. This book is a must for anyone seeking to develop a solid rationale for creating and enhancing urban nature.


Keeping It Green: A Citizen’s Guide to Urban Land Protection in Canada

This manual is a practical guide for citizens and community groups whose vision of Canada’s cities and towns includes healthy natural areas. It will guide you through the land use planning process and the opportunities it provides to make your organization’s voice heard. It also offers an overview of other land protection options as well as advice on how to manage your organization and galvanize your efforts into a successful community movement.


Methods to Develop Restoration Plans for Small Urban Watersheds

This manual outlines a practical, step-by-step approach to develop, adopt and implement a subwatershed restoration plan in your community.


No Plot is Too Small: A Community’s Guide to Restoring Public Landscapes

This is a practical step-by-step guide designed to help communities take action. It will guide you through all stages of planning a successful and sustainable initiative that is responsive to the needs of your community and the environment. Whether your goal is to transform a small neighbourhood parkette or contribute to the restoration of a major valley corridor, No Plot Is Too Small provides the tools to help make your vision become a reality.


Oregon Watershed Assessment Manual

This assessment is designed to be used by local citizen groups such as watershed councils and soil and water conservation groups, with some assistance from technical experts. It contains the information needed for a broad-scale evaluation of their wetland resources and can be used on any landscape in Oregon, from coastal rain forest to Great Basin desert.


Plan2Fund is a web based Watershed Planning Tool developed by the Environmental Finance Center at Boise State University that helps organizations determine their funding needs to meet the goals and objectives of their Watershed Program Plan.


Protecting and Restoring Our Natural Heritage: A Practical Guide

This guide brings together detailed information and project experiences to help community groups, local bodies and individuals initiate projects and make the best use of resources to protect and restore the native plants and ecosystems of New Zealand.


Resource Valuation Guidebook

This guide can help resource managers and community groups identify and analyze environment-economy issues in their communities. The framework provided requires users to focus on how the environment and economy interacts.


Restoration Procedures Manual for Public Lands in Florida

The purpose of this manual is to guide and establish standards for identification, planning and coordination of restoration projects on public land sites in Florida. It will help you identify potential restoration projects, determine if they are ecologically and economically feasible, and develop detailed plans to accomplish them.


Sharing the Challenge: A Guide for Community-Based Environmental Planning

This guide describes the multi-stakeholder approach to developing Comprehensive Environmental Management Plans (CEMPs). Topics covered include establishing a multi-stakeholder group, working within a multi-stakeholder group process, building a vision, setting objectives, conducting an environmental quality assessment, selecting solutions, and writing a plan.


Sharing the Challenge: Community Environmental Profile

This Workbook is specially designed to help you take stock of the environmental conditions in your community. It will help you identify the environmental features, issues and problems which are found in your area. The data you collect will have a variety of uses, from building your awareness of conditions in the study area, to suggesting questions and data needs, to forming a foundation for an environmental quality assessment. Furthermore, the data-gathering exercise can be a good starting point for getting the multi-stakeholder group to work together.


Smart Watershed Benchmarking Tool

This document distills the lessons learned from around the country into a self-assessment tool to help local communities integrate and align their urban watershed programs to meet their water resource goals. It is designed to help local program managers and watershed groups make better decisions on watershed restoration priorities to maximize the performance of staff and financial resources.


Steps for Implementing a Restoration Project

This document identifies 16 important steps that should be followed when implementing a restoration project.


Unified Stream Assessment: A User’s Manual

This is a user’s guide that describes how to perform the USA, and interpret the data collected to determine the stream corridor restoration potential for your subwatershed.


Unified Subwatershed and Site Reconnaissance: A User’s Manual

This manual examines pollution sources and restoration potential within upland areas of urban subwatersheds. It provides detailed guidance on how to perform each of its four components: the Neighborhood Source Assessment (NSA), Hotspot Site Investigation (HSI), Pervious Area Assessment (PAA) and the analysis of Streets and Storm Drains (SSD).


USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Web Soil Survey

Web Soil Survey (WSS) provides soil data and information produced by the National Cooperative Soil Survey. NRCS has soil maps and data available online for more than 95 percent of the nation’s counties and anticipates having 100 percent in the near future. The site is updated and maintained online as the single authoritative source of soil survey information.


US EPA Watershed Planning Tool

This site provides information and tools developed by EPA to assist with the development and implementation of effective watershed management plans. It is designed for people who are involved in watershed management activities.




> Forests


Methods for Increasing Forest Cover in a Watershed

Presents new methods for the watershed planner or forester to systematically measure watershed forest cover and select the best methods for maintaining or increasing this cover by protecting, enhancing, and reforesting large parcels of primarily public land across the watershed.


The Agroforestry Field Guide: A Tool for Community Based Environmental Education
This training guide was produced through WWF Vietnam to provide a comprehensive set of tools with which to train communities in agroforestry practices. The guide has three sections: I. The Tree Nursery; II. Agroforestry Technologies; and III. Agroforestry Species.

The Container Tree Nursery Manual
This 7-volume manual was published by the U.S. Forest Service to provide guidance in the production of tree and woody shrub seedlings in containers.

Urban Tree Planting Guide

Provides detailed guidance on urban tree planting that is applicable at both the development site and the watershed scales. Topics covered include site assessment, planting design, site preparation and other pre-planting considerations, and planting and maintenance techniques.


> Grasslands


Managing, Restoring and Re-establishing Prairie and Savanna Communities


Planning and Installing Small Prairie Areas

Outlined here are the basic steps for establishing native prairie communities on small areas (<0.5 acres) not being used for agricultural production or other forms of intensive management in order to create ecological benefits for the surrounding landscape.


Tallgrass Restoration Manual

Published in 2004 by the Native Prairies Association of Texas, this manual addresses the important considerations in restoring tallgrass prairies (in Texas and elsewhere) and introduces effective methods for native seed collection and broadcasting, weed control and site maintenance.


The New Southern Reconstruction: Home Grown Prairies

This article details some of the methods used by two landowners in Bell County, Texas to replicate the native Blackland Prairie vegetation on their Blackland farm. It is intended to help other landowners begin similar projects on their own properties.


> Arid Lands


A Beginner’s Guide to Desert Restoration

This report describes promising restoration methods and approaches. It will be useful to anyone planting desert flora, but it specifically targets restoration practitioners, regulators, native plant growers, and native seed collectors.


> Freshwater – Wetlands


A Guide to Creating Vernal Ponds

This guide is designed to help the reader think through site selection and the construction process in creating a vernal pond that looks and functions like a natural wetland.


An Introduction and User’s Guide to Wetland Restoration, Creation, and Enhancement

This document is designed specifically for individuals, community groups, municipalities, or others who have little or no experience in the restoration field. The text gives information on wetlands, background on the practice of restoration, and information on the process involved in undertaking a wetland project.


California Wetlands Information System

This Wetlands Information System is designed to provide comprehensive wetlands information to the general public, the educational community, and government agencies. It is a compilation of public and private sector information, including maps, environmental documents, restoration and mitigation activities, regulatory permitting, and wetland policies.


Geospatial Wetlands Digital Data

Build, search, query, and download custom digital maps and data in the area you choose with this online mapping tool created through the USFWS National Wetlands Inventory.


Guide to Wetlands Protections

Whether one is a long-time wetlands advocate or an individual beginning to take action to protect wetlands, this guide will provide current information, including the latest developments concerning wetlands, and offer the practical know-how to help protect wetlands.


Heroic Tales of Wetland Restoration

This book tells of 12 rural landowners, who changed their farming practices to reclaim wetlands, streams and rivers. Readers can enjoy and learn from these tales of vision, passion, perseverance, and economic survival, as well as explore land conservation options and a range of state and federal technical assistance and funding programs.


How to Manipulate Water in a New, Restored, or Enhanced Wetland to Encourage Wetland Plant Establishment


Oregon Aquatic Habitat Restoration and Enhancement Guide

This handbook is designed to provide information to watershed councils, landowners and other interests to help facilitate and encourage habitat restoration projects across all landuses and ownerships.


Principles for the Ecological Restoration of Aquatic Resources

These principles apply to different stages in the life of a restoration project – from early planning to post-implementation monitoring – and are offered here for use by a wide variety of people and organizations.


Restoring and Creating Wetlands: A Planning Guide for the Central States Region: Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska

This document was produced to aid planners, local governments, businesses, and the general public in understanding how to plan a wetland restoration or creation project.


Restoring Wetlands in Washington: A Guidebook for Wetland Restoration, Planning and Implementation

This book provides an excellent, concise handbook on the basic steps in planning, designing, implementing, monitoring and managing a restoration project.


US Army Corps of Engineers Wetlands Delineation Manual

This document presents approaches and methods for identifying and delineating wetlands. It is designed to assist users in making wetland determinations using a multiparameter approach that requires positive evidence of hydrophytic vegetation, hydric soils, and wetland hydrology for a determination that an area is a wetland.


The Wetlandkeepers Handbook: A Practical Guide to Wetland Care

These training modules have been developed to encourage broad interest in wetlands around British Columbia. Modelled after the Streamkeepers Handbook developed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Wetlandkeepers provides background information on wetland ecology and laws related to wetlands, as well as step-by-step instruction on wetland activities.


Wetland Primer

This primer was prepared by the Institute for Wetland & Environmental Education & Research (IWEER) and provides an overview of some important topics about wetlands, including: wetland identification, hydrophytic vegetation, hydric soil, wetland classification and common types, wetland functions, wetland status and trends, and wetland protection and restoration.


Wetland Protection and Restoration Guides for Local Communities and Nonprofits

These question and answer guides are designed primarily for local government, land trusts and members of the public wanting information pertaining to key wetland topics. Each guide includes a list of questions and answers along with a selected bibliography and list of websites for readers wishing more information.


Wetland Restoration, Enhancement, Creation & Construction

Technical Resources provided by the Wetland Team of the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service.


Wetland Technical Resources provided by the Oregon Department of State Lands Wetlands Program


> Freshwater – Rivers & Watersheds


A Guide to Riparian Tree Planting in Southwest Oregon

This publication is a step-by-step guide to riparian tree planting in interior southwest Oregon, including Jackson and Josephine counties and the noncoastal portions of Douglas County.


An Integrated Framework to Restore Small Urban Watersheds

This manual introduces the basic concepts and techniques of urban watershed restoration, and sets forth the overall framework that is used to evaluate subwatershed restoration potential.


Architecture of Urban Stream Buffers

This article presents a detailed scheme for urban stream buffer design, drawn from field research and local experience across the country.


Community-Based Watershed Management: Lessons from the National Estuary Program

This document describes innovative approaches to watershed management implemented by the 28 National Estuary Programs and is designed for all individuals and organizations involved in watershed management, including states, tribes, local governments, and nongovernmental organizations. Readers will learn how the NEPs organize and maintain effective citizen involvement efforts, collect and analyze data, assess and prioritize problems and develop and implement management plans.


Practice of Watershed Protection: Techniques for Protecting our Nation’s Streams, Lakes, Rivers, and Estuaries

A collection of more than 100 articles covering different topics related to watershed protection. These include: stormwater management practices, watershed planning, aquatic buffers, site design, and erosion and sediment control.


Riparian Forest Buffer Design and Maintenance

This guide has been prepared as a resource to the many who wish to establish a riparian forest buffer efficiently, effectively, and with a minimum of maintenance in the Chesapeake Bay region.


Stream Corridor Restoration: Principles, Processes, and Practices

This document provides an overview of stream corridors, steps in restoration plan development, and guidelines for implementing restoration. It applies to a range of stream types, including intermittent and perennial streams of all sizes, and offers a scientific perspective on restoration work ranging from simple to complex.


Stream Habitat Restoration Guidelines

The purpose of these guidelines is to promote process-based natural stream restoration, rehabilitating aquatic and riparian ecosystems. These guidelines advance a watershed-scale assessment of the stream system, establishing goals, objectives and design for restoring optimum sustainable native biodiversity, using principles of landscape ecology and integrated aquatic ecosystem restoration.


The Practical Streambank Bioengineering Guide

This is a user’s guide for natural streambank stabilization techniques in the arid and semi-arid Great Basin and Intermountain West. The goal of this publication is to provide an easy to understand guide for coordinators of riparian restoration projects.


The Streamkeepers Handbook: A Practical Guide to Stream and Wetland Care

This guide is designed for use by volunteers (individuals, groups and schools) committed to protect, restore and moniter Stream corridors in the Province of British Columbia.


The Stream Scene: Watersheds, Wildlife and People

Intended as a resource for teachers, this book provides an overview of watershed systems, specifically watersheds, uplands, and riparian ecosystems, the water cycle, hydrology, water quality, and aquatic biology. Activities ultimately prepare students to conduct field investigations.


Top 10 Watershed Lessons Learned

This publication identifies the most important lessons learned in the course of EPA’s watershed approach to protecting lakes, rivers, wetlands, estuaries, and streams. It is intended for anyone trying to make watershed work happen, including concerned citizens, scientists, government employees, and nonprofit groups.


Urban Stormwater Retrofit Practices

This manual focuses on storm water retrofit practices that can capture and treat storm water runoff before it is delivered to the stream. It describes both off-site storage and on-site retrofit techniques that can be used to remove storm water pollutants, minimize channel erosion, and help restore stream hydrology.


Urban Stream Repair Practices

This manual concentrates on practices used to enhance the appearance, stability, structure, and/or function of urban streams.


Urban Stream Restoration Practices: An Initial Assessment

This study examined more than 20 different types of stream restoration practices and included over 450 individual practice installations. Each practice was evaluated in the field according to four simple visual criteria: structural integrity, function, habitat enhancement, and vegetative stability.


> Coastal/Marine


A Manual for Community-Based Eelgrass Restoration

This manual is intended to instruct scientists, managers and community members in a low-cost eelgrass transplanting method and to elucidate all of the necessary stages for completing a volunteer-driven eelgrass restoration project. It includes a discussion of eelgrass ecology; selection of a appropriate transplant site; methodology for harvesting eelgrass from a donor site; transplantation of eelgrass shoots using the TERFS method; working with volunteers from the community; and follow-up monitoring.


A Practitioners Guide to the Design & Monitoring of Shellfish Restoration Projects

This guide was written as a primer for conservationists, resource managers and others interested in understanding basic approaches to the design and implementation of shellfish restoration projects.


Community-Based Dune Management for the Mitigation of Coastal Hazards and Climate Change Effects: A Guide for Local Authorities

The primary purpose of this report is to bring together lessons from existing and successful dune care/restoration programs in New Zealand to provide guidelines for councils wanting to initiate dune restoration programs–both to mitigate coastal hazards, including climate change effects such as projected sea level rise, and to restore the beneficial natural and human use values associated with coastal dunes.


Digging In: A Guide to Community-Based Habitat Restoration

This guide describes how individuals and organizations can become involved in helping to improve and restore coastal wetlands and other coastal habitat in their communities. The Guide explains the basic steps of information gathering, site selection, project implementation, monitoring, maintenance, and working with volunteers. It includes tips on battling non-natives, as well as propagating and installing native plants.


Five Steps to Successful Ecological Restoration of Mangroves

This manual outlines five important steps for planning and implementing mangrove rehabilitation, in order to make the methodology accessible to a wider range of coastal resource managers and mangrove restoration practitioners.


Principles of Estuarine Habitat Restoration

These principles emphasize the importance of a long-term stewardship approach to restoration and emphasize the need to establish clear, realistic goals for restoration activities at both the estuary and project levels. They also emphasize the critical nature of building a strong public constituency to support habitat restoration and the need to demonstrate to the public that progress is being made.


> Revegetation


A Guide to the Revegetation and Environmental Restoration of Closed Landfills

This guide provides landfill managers, owners, operators, and local enforcement agencies with information on revegetation and environmental restoration in the closure of landfills. These techniques also should prove useful to conservationists in restoration or other habitat reclamation.


Nursery Manual for Native Plants: A Guide for Tribal Nurseries

This is the first volume in a two-volume handbook developed by the U.S. Forest Service, with assistance from the Intertribal Nursery Council. It covers all aspects of managing a native plant nursery, from initial planning through crop production to establishing trials to improve nursery productivity into the future. The handbook is divided into four main sections: Getting Started, Developing a Nursery, Growing Plants, and Problem Solving.


Recommendations for the Collection and Use of Native Plants

This brochure reflects our current understanding of conservation and use of native plants. As we learn more about how plant communities develop and ‘maintain themselves, about the genetics of individuals and populations, and about what succeeds and fails in harvesting, growing, and using native plants, we will continue to update these recommendations.


Roadside Revegetation: An Integrated Approach to Establishing Native Plants

This report offers an integrated approach to facilitate the successful establishment of native plants along roadsides and other areas of disturbance associated with road modifications. It guides readers through a comprehensive process of: 1) initiating, 2) planning, 3) implementing, and 4) monitoring a roadside revegetation project with native plants.


VegSpec is a Web-based decision support system that assists land managers in revegetation planning and design. VegSpec uses soil, plant, and climate data to select plant species that are (1) adapted to a specific site, (2) suitable for the selected practice (treatment), and (3) appropriate for the purposes and sub-purposes for which the planting is intended.


> Invasives


Center for Invasive Plant Management

This site provides a number of helpful resources related to invasive plant management and removal.


Citizen’s Guide to the Control of Invasive Plants in Wetland and Riparian Areas

This booklet offers a survey of the efforts of a variety of groups that have mobilized volunteers in an effort to control invasive plants in natural areas.


Noxious, Invasive, and Alien Plant Species: A Challenge in Wetland Restoration and Enhancement

The purpose of this technical note is to provide infor­mation on noxious, invasive, alien, and other problem plant species that threaten the success of wetland res­toration and enhancement projects.




Adopt-A-Buffer Toolkit: Monitoring and Maintaining Restoration Projects

This manual is designed for local watershed groups, restoration practitioners, and volunteer monitors who implement stream restoration projects and who are seeking inexpensive, effective volunteer-based monitoring techniques to assess restoration projects.


Broadening Participation in Biological Monitoring: Handbook for Scientists and Managers

This handbook was written for managers and scientists in the United States who are contemplating a participatory approach to monitoring biological resources, especially biodiversity. It is designed as a how-to manual with discussions of relevant topics, checklists of important considerations to address, and resources for further information.


Forest Monitoring and Assessment Kit (FORMAK)

FORMAK is aimed at assessments and measurements being undertaken by landowners, community groups, Iwi and other volunteers who have an interest in an area of forest, but not necessarily much time. The aim is to provide a relatively easy set of measurements that will require around 5 days per year for 1-2 people. The focus is on doing repeat measurements on a regular basis in order to look at ongoing changes or “trends” that are occurring.


Habitat Protection Fund Project Monitoring Toolkit

These guidelines provide individuals and groups undertaking habitat protection projects with some initial help to monitor their project. The guidelines have been developed by WWF New Zealand in order to support groups receiving grants from the Habitat Protection Fund. However, it is expected that these guidelines will also be useful to many others involved in habitat protection and biodiversity enhancement projects.


Monitoring Surface Water Quality: A Guide for Citizens, Students and Communities in Atlantic Canada

This document is a guide and compilation of relevant Canadian and American information on community-based water quality monitoring. It is intended that sufficient information be presented so that a volunteer group can make an organized and well-prepared start on a monitoring project. While the focus of this document is on water quality monitoring, the principles outlined are general enough so that groups interested in habitat inventory, wildlife monitoring, land-use inventories and other environmental monitoring projects will find sections relevant.


Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board Guide to Photo Point Monitoring

Photo point monitoring involves taking photos at a fixed location on a restoration site to show qualitative changes over time. This guide includes information about setting up photo points, taking pre- and post-project photos, and labeling photos.


Science-Based Restoration Monitoring of Coastal Habitats

This two-volume manual provides technical assistance, outlines necessary steps, and provides useful tools for the development and implementation of sound scientific monitoring of coastal restoration efforts. Information found in these volumes can help practitioners develop monitoring programs that can determine if a restoration project is on track and gauge how well a restoration site is functioning.


Volmonitor Listserv

Connects volunteer water monitoring program coordinators nationwide by serving as an internet forum for questions, announcements, and discussion on topics of interest to the volunteer monitoring community.


Volunteer Estuary Monitoring: A Methods Manual

This document presents information and methodologies specific to estuarine water quality monitoring. Both the organizers of volunteer programs and the volunteers themselves should find it of use.


Volunteer Lake Monitoring

The EPA has developed this manual to present specific information on volunteer lake water quality monitoring methods. It is intended both for the organizers of the volunteer lake monitoring program, and for the volunteer who will be actually be sampling lake conditions.


Volunteer Monitor’s Guide to Quality Assurance Project Plans

This document is designed to help volunteer program coordinators develop a Quality Assurance Project Plan, a set of procedures the monitoring project will use to ensure that the data collected and analyzed is of high enough quality to meet project requirements.


Volunteer Stream Monitoring: A Methods Manual

This manual is intended to serve as a tool for program managers who want to launch a new stream monitoring program or enhance an existing program. It presents methods that have been adapted from those used successfully by existing volunteer programs, but also urges program coordinators to be responsive to their particular local context.


Volunteer Wetland Monitoring: An Introduction and Resource Guide

This document is intended to provide individuals and organizations an introduction to why and how people monitor wetlands and to briefly describe a few of the handbooks and manuals that offer detailed information on wetland monitoring for the layperson.


Water Quality Monitoring: A Technical Guidebook

The guide was developed as part of the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds to provide guidance on designing monitoring strategies and standard water quality monitoring protocols.


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