NOWWE’s mission is the PRESERVATION, PROTECTION and RESTORATION of Mark West Creek and its associated watershed. The Creek, located in Sonoma County, California, is a key tributary to the Russian River. For the past several years, we have been specifically committed to proactive stewardship of upper Mark West Creek.
NOWWE was incorporated in 2004 as a community-based non-profit corporation, under the laws of the State of California. We are an IRS certified 501c3 organization begun as an outgrowth of the concerns expressed by creek side property owners and community members as they watched inappropriate and possibly illegal land development negatively impact the Creek’s whole ecological system – the water, the fish, the flora and the fauna.
Our strategy has always been to work within the existing infrastructure to compel agencies and government entities to follow the regulations and guidelines under which they are supposed to operate. We have hired professional consultants to develop the technical information that can assist federal, state and local agencies in making informed decisions regarding land development activities. We have developed irrefutable scientific evidence that agencies such as Fish & Game, National Marine Fisheries, water quality control boards and the like can use to support their positions on certain kinds of development within the Mark West Creek Watershed. Our success is evidenced by the support NOWWE received from government agencies. In addition, we have archived ten (10) years worth of video and photographic images that chronicle the degradation of Mark West Creek and the human activities that have contributed to it.
A private donor has been our main financial support. During 2008, we received a small grant from the Patagonia Foundation to support the development of habitat and geologic assessments. We are aggressively searching for future funding possibilities and resources
Who we are
Our Board of Directors and Executive Director are neither salaried nor compensated for their services.
Casey Caplinger is a life-long Sonoma County resident who lives on the banks of Mark West Creek. An arborist by profession, Casey has developed a deep knowledge of ecology and nature as a ocean diver, fisherman, mountain explorer and bow hunter. As he observed the decline of the fishery and water quality of Mark West Creek, he could not stand by and do nothing. As a result he founded NOWWE as a watershed and community based organization, with the goal of providing the science and legal tools for citizens to work together to protect the creek and its watershed.
Laura was an outspoken critic of residential development of the Upper Newport Back Bay in 1994. She worked the phones, went door to door, and wrote many articles defending this unique suburban natural area. Laura and Casey met while protesting a 1,200 acre proposed residential subdivision in the Mark West Creek Watershed. Casey’s legal appeal of this development (in conjunction with Ms. Dranginis of the Audubon Society) set in motion the events which resulted in the area being purchased by Sonoma County’s Open Space District. Laura’s organizational skills and public speaking abilities help NOWWE achieve its goals.
Katherine Stevens -Director
Katherine has been a resident of St. Helena Road next to Mark West Creek since December 1977. She has witnessed the change to the Watershed over the last thirty three years and has become increasingly concerned about the progressive deterioration that is becoming evident. She met Casey, Laura, and Ray through the protest of the proposed 1,200 acre residential subdivision in the Mark West Creek Watershed.
Casey meets with Fish and Game representative Derek Acomb in Upper Mark West Creek
NOWWE 2013 Strategic Plan and Watershed Goals
The core goal of our long term strategic plan for Mark West Creek is to once again see viable populations of wild coho salmon and steelhead trout breeding and living in Mark West Creek. Restoration of natural resource values in the entire watershed is required to support this goal. Our approach:
Connect, Communicate, Collaborate
Our strategy has three main components:
I. EDUCATION AND UNDERSTANDING
Educate and engage the residents and landowners in the Mark West Creek watershed to understand the importance of having a healthy watershed system and to learn about and use the many techniques that
will protect and conserve natural resources.
1. Establish relationships and encourage dialog among riparian land owners.
2. Establish communication resources such as websites and or newsletters that will convey watershed information to residents and that will make available access to a wide range of documents, news, and resources relevant to the watershed.
3. Develop GIS tools and maps that provide comprehensive landowner databases, parcel and land use data, mailing and email lists of residents, and other data management and contact resources to foster good communications and outreach.
II. REGULATORY OVERSIGHT:
To strongly encourage and support the work of regulatory agencies such as the Ca Dept. of Fish and Game, State Water Board, NOAA Fisheries, and the permitting activities of Sonoma County to fully engage in their regulatory roles to protect the creek and the natural resource values in the watershed.
1. Organize residents to participate in local decision-making forums such as Board of Zoning Adjustments, Board of Supervisors, and other forums to make sure that regulatory agencies are aware of concerns of local residents.
2. Develop database of regulatory agencies and personnel that have jurisdiction in the watershed for natural resource issues and engage the personnel in site visits and other direct contact.
3. Work with regulatory bodies at the state and local levels to introduce or strengthen land use policies to preserve forest land providing protection of remaining habitat and creek flows.
3. Integrate with citizen monitoring activities to assist regulatory agencies in identifying problems and in enforcing regulatory measures
4. Provide financial resources so that outside technical experts can be engaged
to assist in identifying and solving technical aspects of natural resource
issues related to regulatory matters.
III. CITIZEN PARTICIPATION:
To foster, support, encourage and implement a wide range of activities and programs that will give residents and landowners, as well as other county citizens, an opportunity to engage in a wide range of activities related to watershed understanding,
protection and restoration.
1. Encourage partnerships among groups working in the watershed between themselves, and with organizations outside the watershed that can provide technical or strategic assistance in all watershed activities.
2. Plan, fund, and manage actual restoration projects where ordinary people can roll logs, move rock, plant seed & trees, and do other restoration activates.
3. Develop method ands organizational assistance so that residents and students can become actively involved in monitoring and data collection.
4. Provide leadership, training and other resources to residents and local organizations to help them develop their membership participation in all watershed activities.