Lake Chatuge Watershed Action Plan

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition, Inc.
City & State:
North Carolina
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement
The Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition, Inc. (HRWC) is a local, non-governmental, conservation nonprofit organization whose mission is to facilitate water quality improvements in lakes and streams throughout the upper Hiwassee River watershed in north Georgia and southwestern North Carolina.

Submission Information

Impact Essay
Since 1995, the Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition has delivered water quality improvement projects, volunteer monitoring and environmental education programs to the upper Hiwassee River watershed, a 1,006 mi2 area. Initially HRWC worked fairly quietly, operating primarily on government grants, but despite its small size, achieving a long list of accomplishments. Today HRWC has three full-time employees, more than 100 volunteers and four major program areas; membership donations and local fundraising efforts are the most critical of our diverse funding sources. As we grew, we needed software to maximize the quality and time spent on publicity efforts and to reduce the expense associated with hiring outside professionals. Thanks to Adobe’s contribution to TechSoup, HRWC was able to purchase Adobe Photoshop CS at a price that fit our budget! Because it is essential for us to provide frequent, high quality publicity to draw people to events and keep members involved, HRWC uses Photoshop daily for creating attractive mailings; editing/sizing digital photographs for our website; and designing eye-catching fundraising tickets, posters and promotional items. One publication that helped us make a large environmental impact is the Lake Chatuge Watershed Action Plan. Lake Chatuge is the uppermost of four large reservoirs on the Hiwassee River. It straddles the NC/GA line; with abundant public access and the largest amount of privately-owned shoreline, it is arguably the most popular lake in the region. The problem is that the lake’s ecological health rating declined severely during the 1990s, due largely to an increase in algae concentrations. After five years of intensive monitoring, computer modeling and discussion among water quality experts, HRWC drafted and released the Lake Chatuge Watershed Action Plan to guide restoration efforts, with the goal of returning the reservoir to “Good” ecological health. Using Photoshop, we designed (“in-house”) a cover for the Plan so appealing that people are compelled to pick it up and consider its contents. After the Plan’s release, interest in HRWC’s efforts grew rapidly among area residents and business owners that were previously unaware of the condition of the lake. Annual HRWC membership statistics show a 60% increase in membership in Towns and a 21% increase in Clay counties (the two counties in which the lake lies), and a watershed-wide increase of 40% during the year the Plan was released. Due to widespread interest and the realization that “the ecological health of Lake Chatuge determines the economic health of Towns County,” Sole Commissioner, Bill Kendall publicly endorsed the Plan and encouraged “the support of citizens, civic organizations and homeowner associations.” After the first 200 copies were quickly distributed, Kendall provided funds to print 100 more! Further, local governments are leading the way in terms of implementing the Plan’s recommended actions. Although the contents of the Lake Chatuge Watershed Action Plan are much more important than its cover, many people would never have read it, much less taken action to improve the lake, had they not been drawn to its beautiful cover designed using the superior Adobe Photoshop CS software!
Submission Category
Environmental Impact Print/Photo