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About Watershed Management

Program Overview

The WMPP is designed for public and private resource professionals who want to deepen and broaden their knowledge base, expand upon and gain the full benefit of their own experience to further their personal effectiveness and careers.

Our faculty are professionals with extensive experience in public policy, law, social change, biology, geomorphology, ecology, landscape restoration, and education. All of our faculty consistently receive the highest ratings for both their ability to communicate and the power and practicality of the material they present. The materials and information in the courses are presented in a powerful, sometimes provocative manner that is respectful of a diversity of backgrounds, opinions and experience. The faculty work hard to make sure the courses are co-produced -- using the experience and background of the participants to bear on the questions and materials in the course. Faculty become resources for the learning of the participants. Past participants have reported the ability to immediately apply the knowledge gained in WMPP courses to the watersheds where they are working.

The Watershed Management Professional Program offers a Certificate of Completion in Watershed Management. To learn how to earn the certificate, please read on, or jump to any of the topics listed below.

Why Watersheds?

Watershed: A watershed is the land from which water drains into a particular stream, river, lake or other water body. All land (and all humans, wildlife, and activity on that land) are part of one watershed or another. In the United States, when watersheds are talked about, we most often are referring to river drainage basins, for example, "the Columbia River Watershed."

River watershed protection, management and restoration: When river protection or restoration is mentioned, a majority of citizens think of water pollution and discharges from factories and sewer systems. These sources of pollution are often referred to as "point source pollution" -- a legal term in the federal Clean Water Act. Contrary to the popular belief that most river pollution problems are caused by direct "point source" discharges, most river pollution problems are caused by pollutants picked up in water that runs off the surface of land, i.e. "non-point source" pollution. Therefore river watershed management is as much about land management and restoration as it is about the river itself. Protecting and restoring rivers entails addressing pollution and wildlife habitat problems in the entire watershed, or the entire land area that drains to the river.

Another important concept for informed citizens and for people engaged in watershed management, protection and restoration is the idea of an ecological address. Simply put, your ecological address is the name of the watershed in which you live. Knowledge of your ecological address, demonstrates an understanding of human location in the ecosystem and its processes. Knowledge of our place in the ecosystem clearly offers an understanding of an inter-connectedness of the human and natural environment. For example, in Portland, Oregon, depending on their exact location in the metropolitan area, residents might also live within the smaller but still sprawling Willamette River Watershed. Narrowing it down still further, to its most useful individual application, one might live within the Johnson, Balch or Fanno Creek watersheds, or the watersheds of any of dozens of other small creeks or streams draining into the Willamette River.

Educational Philosophy

Our Educational Philosophy includes convening the widest range of policy opinions, experience and case studies to provide course participants with a reality based range of values, policy consequences and implementation challenges. Our curriculum, including the core courses for the certificate and special topics courses and seminars, are constantly evolving as the law, policy and science of watershed management evolve each year. Our faculty members are not only excellent teachers, they are also practitioners actively involved in watershed management and restoration efforts throughout North America.

In addition, six principles of education articulated by David Orr in his book Earth in Mind, are central to our methods. Two of the principles are worth emphasizing in this context of watershed management. First, Orr writes, "all education is environmental education. By what is included or excluded students are taught that they are part of or apart from the natural world. To teach economics for example, without reference to the laws of thermodynamics or ecology is to teach a fundamentally important ecological lesson: that physics and ecology have nothing to do with the economy. It just happens to be dead wrong..." Watershed management is by its very nature interdisciplinary and WMPP instructor's presentations reflect this principle.

Orr also proposes that "the way in which learning occurs is as important as the content of particular courses. Process is important for learning. Courses taught as lecture courses then to induce passivity. Indoor classes create the illusion that learning only occurs inside four walls, isolated from what the students call, without apparent irony, 'the real world'. Reflecting this principle WMPP core courses include a mix of discussion, music, film, lecture presentation, field work, small group exercises, and watershed case studies.