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EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, is a BC Strategy for Community Investment in Stream Systems (Natural Commons)

COMMUNICATION TOOLS FOR VISUALIZATION OF FOUNDATIONAL CONCEPTS: A clear and compelling takeaway message is that communities need annual budgets to tackle the Riparian Deficit along streams


“How concepts are explained is crucial to creating awareness, building understanding, and inspiring action through a commitment to shared responsibility to make things right. In this case, restoring riparian integrity in streamside protection zones. If we know how to do a much better job of protecting ecological features and stream systems in our communities and on our landscape, then why aren’t we doing a better job? Why are streams still degrading? This is the reason the Partnership for Water Sustainability developed a set of six graphics to bring to life foundational concepts. These graphics are communication tools,” stated Kim Stephens.

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DESIGN WITH NATURE GOING FORWARD (GRAPHIC): Erik Karlsen’s “integrating matrix” is a foundation piece for EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, which is a pillar for asset management that protects and restores riparian area integrity


A stream in a natural condition is supported by a riparian ecosystem. In urban, suburban and rural settings around BC, however, riparian ecosystems have been reduced to riparian zones. Diminution due to fragmentation results in a loss of a riparian network’s ecological services. This has become the norm because the intent of BC’s Riparian Areas Protection Regulation has been compromised over time. The consequence of land use intrusion is a Riparian Deficit. EAP provides local governments with a methodology, metrics and a path forward to tackle the Riparian Deficit and thus restore riparian integrity.

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ASSET MANAGEMENT IS A CONTINUUM OF STEPS (GRAPHIC): Communication tool conceptualizes milestones along the way as a local government progresses on its journey to achieve fully integrated Sustainable Service Delivery for the drainage function


“The ultimate vision for fully integrated Sustainability Service Delivery is that communities would protect, preserve, restore and manage natural assets in the same way that they manage their engineered assets. A watershed, and the ecosystem services that it provides, is a fundamental and integral part of a community’s infrastructure. This is not to suggest that all ecosystem services provide a municipal function. But trees, soil, green spaces and water do contribute a valuable municipal function in maintaining the hydrologic integrity of a healthy watershed system,” stated Glen Brown.

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NESTED CONCEPTS (GRAPHIC): How do we change what we are doing on and to the landscape? Everything comes down to one question: What is the number for the line item in a local government annual budget for community investment in maintenance and management of stream systems?


“The idea that nature provides “ecological services” is not intuitively understood by the public, elected representatives and asset managers. Because the concept is abstract, it requires a leap of faith for buy-in at an operational level in local government where numbers matter. This challenge accentuates the need for effective communication tools. The Nested Concepts graphic helps local governments move past the rhetoric and focus their attention on achieving desired outcomes through a sustained and affordable investment in restoration of streamside protection zones,” stated Kim Stephens.

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CASCADING CONCEPTS (GRAPHIC): “Visualize a Monday night meeting of a municipal council and reflect on how councils make decisions. Their mindset is all about what happens at the parcel scale. This is the driver for creating an over-arching mind-map to explain the Ecological Accounting Process in terms they understand,” stated Tim Pringle, EAP Chair


“It is amazing that we have been able to produce a methodology that defines what a stream is, can find the value of the stream using impartial BC Assessment data, and add to that a riparian assessment that looks at the 30m zone and a further 200m upland area to evaluate the water balance condition and what is happening to water pathways,” stated Tim Pringle. “How concepts are explained is crucial. What is easily understood and measured gets implemented. The use of cascading concepts as a mind map helps us cut through the rhetoric to provide audiences with meaningful context and content.”

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TWIN PILLARS OF STREAM SYSTEM INTEGRITY (GRAPHIC): “There are many factors that influence stream degradation. There is not a single smoking gun. Sure, impervious area is the main culprit. But you can trash a stream just as badly by deforestation of the riparian zone as you can by paving over the headwaters with a mall,” stated Dr. Chris May, a Washington State local government leader


“We figured out that you can do all you want with stormwater runoff to restore the water balance, but you still are not going to restore the aquatic resources to where they need to be unless you actually jump into the streams and riparian areas and do restoration there. So that is what I did. My leadership position as Division Director at Kitsap County allowed me to put science into practice. We learned through experience that you cannot do just stormwater or restoration. You have to do both. Also, working at multiple scales and multiple levels is really key,” stated Chris May.

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DEMONSTRATION APPLICATIONS: A 6-year program of applied research between 2016 and 2022 to test, refine and mainstream the methodology and metrics for EAP, the Ecological Accounting Process, a “made in BC” strategy for community investment in stream systems and other natural commons


“Thirteen local governments in five sub-regions of the Georgia Basin / Salish Sea Bioregion participated in the EAP program. The sequencing of the 9 case studies proved consequential and sometimes game changing. While the methodology and metrics are universal, each situation is unique. Understanding what each partner needed as an outcome from the project became a critical consideration in the building blocks process. EAP evolved as one big idea led to the next one. The 19 big ideas are transformative in their implications for why and how local governments would implement Sustainable Drainage Service Delivery,” stated Kim Stephens,

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DEMONSTRATION APPLICATION OF ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS: Bertrand Creek in the Township of Langley, completed in 2022


“The Langley Ecological Services Initiative is about compensating rural parcel owners who are willing to set aside areas of their land to protect and/or enhance riparian and woodland assets. The Township posed the question: Is ‘payment for ecological services’ part of an Asset Management Strategy? The Township turned to EAP for a method to find the financial value as well as the worth of these streamside assets. This provides the Township and the community with a defensible asset management approach that is about the asset that will be tied up for the ecological purposes,” stated Melisa Gunn.

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DEMONSTRATION APPLICATION OF ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS: Bings / Menzies Creek in the Municipality of North Cowichan, completed in 2022


The protected stream corridor for Bings Creek is the central feature around which urban development has taken place in this century. Strata parcel development is a dominant land use. It replaces native vegetation from 60% or more of the parcel area with hard (impervious) surfaces and alters what remains. This scale of landscape alteration has a material impact because it short-circuits pathways by which water would naturally reach the Bings Creek channel. “This conclusion is validated by the streamflow history as recorded by the Bings Creek gauging station,” stated Dave Preikshot.

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DEMONSTRATION APPLICATION OF ECOLOGICAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS: Saratoga Miracle Beach in the Comox Valley Regional District, completed in 2022


“The Saratoga Miracle Beach study area within the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) is defined by its water assets. The presence of wetlands differentiates the Saratoga Miracle Beach EAP Project from other EAP case studies and added a new dimension to the EAP analysis. The CVRD anticipates using this work, together with the Master Drainage Plan and flood mapping work, to inform the development of new regulatory tools and to assist in communicating the value of these natural assets to the public during future community engagement,” stated Darry Monteith.

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