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Bear Creek Stewardship Plan - Identification of Critical Areas, Priority Sites and BMP Implementation Areas

The implementation strategies which follow depend upon first identifying "critical areas" and "priority sites" in the Bear Creek Watershed. Based on topographic and hydrologic considerations, a one-quarter mile corridor (along both sides of stream channels) has been designated as the Critical Area. Critical areas are those where the largest number and most serious NPS pollutants occur: priority sites are specific locations (generally within a critical area) where the most serious contributions to NPS pollution have been documented as occurring or having a high potential to occur in the future. As a general rule, proximity to the stream system and related bodies of water is associated quantitatively and qualitatively with the effects of NPS pollutants on water quality: The closer the pollutant source, the higher the likelihood that its impact will not only be more extensive, but also more severe.

Efforts to address NPS pollution in watersheds such as Bear Creek are best conceptualized as Best Management Practices (BMPs). These are structural, vegetative, or managerial practices used to treat, prevent, or reduce water pollution in surface or groundwaters (DNR, 1993, p. 2).

For this reason, the Bear Creek Watershed Steering Committee's Technical Advisory Subcommittee has defined these critical areas, priority sites, and implementation areas as follows:

A Critical Area has been identified along the stream and its tributaries which includes all watercourses, and an area 1/4 of a mile (about 1500 feet) on either side. The Critical Area also includes all lakes and a 1/4 mile corridor around these lakes, as well as all wetland areas in the watershed (See Figure 16).

Priority Sites have also been identified. These are specific locations where existing NPS pollution has been documented or is likely to occur. Visual identification of NPS pollution by project staff and data from the SCS (on slope, soil type, field crop history and rotation, and current crop or livestock management practices), from the WRI (on basement and septic limitations), and from the Kent County Health Department (on bacterial contamination) have been used in prioritizing these sites. Priority sites are those sites designated on the agricultural, residential and transportation-related NPS maps presented previously in this report.

Six Implementation Areas have been created to further focus the implementation efforts (See Figure 17). These are Implementation Areas and the number of priority sites each contains are as follows:

  1. North Branch Implementation Area (37 sites)
  2. East Branch Implementation Area (13 sites)
  3. Upper Main Channel Implementation Area (26 sites)
  4. Middle Main Channel Implementation Area (19 sites)
  5. Lower Main Channel Implementation Area (29 sites)

Figure 16.
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Figure 17.
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Page last modified January 19, 2011