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The state understands the importance of seeking input from interested parties in determining program direction. Some processes and programs for determining those watersheds in need of restoration, protection, or maintenance are located at IDEM, but the state strives to involve federal, state, local, and private partners to restore and protect Indiana’s water resources. The activities carried out by these programs include funding prioritization (Chapter 3.0), monitoring (Chapter 5.1), and planning, assessment, and public education. These activities, to be effective, need to be integrated throughout all levels of societal and geographic settings: surface and ground water, lakes and streams, and hydrology and landscape.
To satisfy the requirements of Key Element No. 2 in the NPS Program and Grants Guidance, IDEM is actively strengthening partnerships with appropriate federal and state agencies, regional and local entities, and private sector and citizens’ groups. One of IDEM’s objectives for this program is to build partnerships that address NPS pollution in Indiana. IDEM will achieve this objective by:
The integration of state NPS management programs with other environmental programs provides a vehicle for cooperative design and implementation of watershed-based plans in a coordinated manner that employs the resources, authorities, and expertise of all relevant programs. A comprehensive list of key partner agencies, including their functions, is included in Appendix B.
To address Key Element No. 7 in the NPS Program and Grants Guidance, IDEM must develop a process for working with federal land-holding agencies within Indiana to ensure that federal activities are consistent with state NPS program objectives. There are 510,660 acres in Indiana that are owned and/or operated by the following Federal agencies:
Federal lands comprise only 2.2 percent of Indiana’s land area, but these areas contain many sensitive aquatic resources, such as dune and swale wetland habitat in the Lake Michigan watershed. Currently, IDEM has no formal process for working with these agencies, except on an ad hoc basis through individual actions that require permits or other state authorizations. IDEM will establish formal processes with each of the identified agencies before the next NPS plan update. Key components will include a review of overall practices on federal lands, identification of future activities, establishment of communication and consultation processes, U.S. EPA review, and long-term coordination of priorities that could be formalized through individual agreement documents. The U.S. Forest Service has begun a process that mirrors many of these objectives which could, with further consultation and revision, serve as a template for IDEM’s federal consistency program.