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Strategic Plan

Strategic plans help organizations figure out what they want to accomplish in the short and long term, then track accomplishments. In 2009 the Flint River Conservation Association board of directors held a series of strategic planning sessions to determine what we want to accomplish as an organization over the next year, and then over the next five years. The following document is our vision for the future protection of our watershed. We invite you to join us in achieving our goals!

To download a Microsoft Word file with our strategic plan, click here: FRCA 2009-2014 Strategic Plan

The Flint River Conservation Association’s 2009-2014 Strategic Plan


The Flint River Conservation Association (FRCA) is a 501(c)3 non-profit conservation organization formed in 1999 by citizens concerned about the health of the Flint River watershed in north Alabama and south-central Tennessee.

Mission Statement

The Flint River Conservation Association is a group of residents, landowners, and recreational users who are working together to conserve and improve the water quality, natural resources, ecosystems, and scenic beauty of the Flint River watershed.

Vision Statement for the Flint River

The Flint River Conservation Association envisions a healthy, clean Flint River. We envision a river with a relatively natural flow regime — in other words, human activities do not reduce flows to an unnatural trickle, or cause unnaturally severe and frequent flooding. We envision a scenic river that provides opportunities for fishing, walking, canoeing and other recreational activities. We envision an ecologically healthy, biologically diverse Flint River. We envision a river lined with natural, forested lands (greenways and riparian buffers), and the conservation of the River’s tributaries, springs, caves, and other resources.

We envision a time when all watershed residents possess a basic understanding and appreciation of the Flint River and its ecosystem, and as such take pride in the river. And we envision a time when many thousands of people are engaged in efforts to conserve the river through participation in the Flint River Conservation Association, and sub- watershed organizations supported by the Flint River Association.

We envision a time when development in the Flint River Watershed is guided by a science-based land use plan. We envision a time when development, water withdrawals, and other public management decisions affecting the river are guided by a periodically- updated baseline study of the Flint River watershed.

Our Vision for the Organization

Measurable Results: We will measure our progress in programmatic effectiveness, organizational health, and mission success for conserving a healthy and scenic Flint River.

Influential throughout the watershed: Our organization will be influential in protecting the Flint River in the entire watershed.

Strong membership support: Our goal is to consistently grow our membership base over the next five years to 800 people.

Strong volunteer base: We will recruit and train volunteers to assist and lead different programs to help achieve our goals and objectives throughout the watershed.

Distributed Leadership: We will identify and cultivate new leaders and spread leadership roles among the board and volunteers.

Organizational sustainability: FRCA’s long-term sustainability will be met by building a diversified fundraising program, developing a solid membership base, building a strong Board, hiring professional staff to more effectively carry out our vision, and implementing this Strategic Plan over the next five years.

Engaged Board: All board members are actively engaged in their primary roles of fundraising, oversight, and decision-making.

Strategic partnerships: We will actively pursue beneficial partnerships with state, county, and local government agencies, non-governmental organizations, private sector businesses, and other stakeholders to support mission success.

Organizational Values

Constructive engagement: FRCA will engage watershed stakeholders through the tools of relationship-building, dialogue, education, and consensus-based action.

Proactive programs: FRCA will engage on issues in a proactive way whenever possible. We will seek to provide pragmatic solutions.

Sound science: FRCA will craft solutions based on the best available scientific data.

Outcome-oriented: FRCA will continuously evaluate and adjust its programs based on their ultimate benefit to the river and watershed.

Volunteer involvement: Volunteers must be the foundation of FRCA’s ability to be the voice and active force for a healthy and scenic Flint River watershed. Thus, we will continuously seek citizens to join us in protecting the river and watershed.

Professional integrity: FRCA takes credible actions and is accountable for these actions to our members, donors, and the citizens of the watershed. We will continuously strive to be transparent in our actions and to follow through in our commitments.

Technical credibility: FRCA will rely on science and engineering professionals who can contribute constructively to develop local and statewide solutions to key technical issues affecting the Flint River.

Fiscally responsible: We will conscientiously manage financial resources given by our members and donors to maximize our impact.

FRCA’s Accomplishments

Since our founding, FRCA has achieved many successes in the Flint River watershed:

Two Annual Clean Ups on the Flint River
We host two very popular river cleanups, one in the fall and one in the spring. These events help keep the river clean and raise public awareness about the Flint River watershed.

WWF Slackwater Darter Grant
FRCA received a grant from the World Wildlife Federation that we used to define the Slackwater Darter’s (Etheostoma boschungi) habitat range within the Flint River basin.  The Slackwater Darter is federally listed as an “threatened” species, and very little is know about its habitat and how to protect the species. With the information we learned during our study, we will be able to better protect its habitat and work closely with surrounding landowners to implement best management practices.  FRCA hopes to expand the habitat of the Slackwater Darter, and possibly identify sites currently used by the species.

Hays Nature Preserve and Goldsmith Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary Partnership
Flint River Conservation Association has been instrumental in the conservation of the Hays Nature Preserve and Goldsmith Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary–about 1,000 acres of Flint River Bottomlands. The Hays Nature Preserve will soon be a regional Watershed Education Center for the Flint River.

Purple Loosestrife Eradication
To help control purple loosestrife in our area’s wetlands, FRCA received a grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to spray plants while they are growing to eradicate the invasive plant or at least to keep in under control. The Purple Loosestrife grant for Summer 2006- 2007 was very successful. We eradicated hundreds of individual plants near Big Cove Creek.

River Guardians Workshop
The River Guardians workshop was the first of its kind in Madison County. FRCA is leading the way to educate and help promote conservation efforts around North Alabama. Our cause was featured on the front page of the Huntsville Times in November 2006.

River Guardian Awards
FRCA awarded 3 members of the development community River Guardian Awards for their efforts to do Best Management Practices (BMPs) to control erosion.  Our River Guardians have seen very little of good BMPs anywhere in Huntsville so we commend our winners for excellence!

Flint River Documentary on Discovering Alabama
After many years of planning the Discovering Alabama’s documentary on the Flint River premiered in August, 2007, Doug Phillips guided viewers through the watershed and the problems we are facing with increased development and urban sprawl.

FRCA has hosted several educational workshops on:

  • BMPs (Best Management Practices for development)
  • Proper Septic Tank Installation and Maintenance
  • New septic tank installations in the New Market Area (funded by TVRC&D)
  • River restoration workshops
  • Alabama Water Watch Citizen Monitoring Training (every year)

Other Successful Projects Include:

  • Stream Restoration Workshop
  • BMP and Phase II Workshop
  • “Save our Southern Rivers–A forum on the Flint”
  • Help to create a Flint River Watershed Management Plan
  • Installation of a boat/canoe ramp at Chickasaw Landing
  • Hays Nature Preserve Director now on the Flint River
  • New Big Cove Creek Greenway to Hays Nature Preserve
  • Wildlife Sanctuary to be Added to Preserve System
  • Wetland Mitigation Bank Planning in Progress
  • The Flint River Festival
  • Clean up on Keel Mountain with Friends of Keel Mountain
  • Spring Ecosystem Study for private landowners
  • Publication of Tackling Nonpoint Source Pollution in Madison County
  • Placement of 18 Flint River Watershed Signs around Madison County (to link to watershed sign )
  • Placement of Storm Drain Stencils on Dumpsites on the River
  • Spring Ecosystem Study

Priority Threats to the Flint River

While there are many threats to the Flint River, the Flint River Conservation Association considers the following to be the greatest threats to the Flint River Watershed. Thus, the programs of FRCA are designed to address these and other threats to the watershed.

  • Poorly planned urban sprawl in the Flint River Watershed and associated water quality and habitat destruction.
  • Loss of riparian forests and the associated degradation of habitats and loss of the river’s scenic beauty.
  • Hydrologic alteration of the river due to stormwater from increased impervious surfaces, water withdrawals, and other impacts (alteration includes increased intensity and frequency of flooding and loss of baseflows).
  • Increased sedimentation from eroded streambanks that are either bare of vegetation or otherwise disturbed. The primary sources of sedimentation are construction sites and incompatible agricultural practices.

Organizational Development and Operations Goals

The following goals will allow FRCA to first add additional skill sets to our board, which will allow the board to more effectively tackles issues. Our focus goals for 2009 are building our board and membership/volunteer base. After we have a solid start on those goals, we can address more aggressive membership and fundraising campaigns.

Goal #1: Build an internal structure for FRCA to support distributed leadership through Board development.
Objective: Responsibility Target Completion Date: Status and Date
Develop a board notebook that includes board roles and responsibilities Executive Committee September 2009
Identify skills we would like on the board. Design and implement a strategic board recruitment process to identify the skills, knowledge, and experience desired on the Board. Nominating committee July 2009
Recruit 2 additional board members Nominating committee October 2009
Recruit an additional 4 board members Nominating committee October 2010
Maintain a diverse board with desired skills of at least 15 members Nominating committee Ongoing, start in 2010
Redesign the process of a typical board meeting agenda to better utilize the time and talent of board members. President July 2009
Identify and implement creative Board communication strategies to streamline communication and effectiveness. President January 2010
Improve financial oversight processes and systems. Ensure our financial systems are adequate for a growing organization. Executive Committee March 2010/ ongoing
Goal #2: Advance FRCA’s mission success by building a solid membership and volunteer base.
Objective: Responsibility Target Completion Date: Status and Date
Craft a plan to host events to attract the public and media interest, and generate new members

host at least 5 small, unique events and generate 50 new members

host at least 4 more events and generate 50 new members

host at least one event monthly

Board January 2010

December 2009

May 2010


Come up with a plan to increase outreach to new members through new outreach methods: online newsletter, fun events, additional online presence, increased blogging, Twitter, etc. Board Ongoing. Start September 2009
Write a letter to old members explaining our goals for the coming years and asking for support. Board September 2009
Implement a plan to recruit and train volunteers to take a leadership role in watershed projects

Identify projects that would be good volunteer opportunities

Advertise volunteer opportunities in the community (Volunteer Center, etc.)

Ensure we have a “volunteer appreciation” element incorporated to ensure volunteers are thanked and appreciated

TBD March 2010
Implement a volunteer tracking system/database to accurately track people who volunteer for projects, events, and programs. Find out what skills our volunteers have so we can match them with opportunities. Ensure we contact each person after events to thank them for their interest and invite them to become members. TBD Ongoing. Start January 2009.
Develop annual membership recruitment strategies TBD Annually
Goal #3: Develop a fundraising program to attract contributions and partner with local businesses and foundations; realize goal of hiring professional staff.
Objective: Responsibility Target Completion Date: Status and Date
Start a board level fundraising committee TBD January 2010
Develop an annual, diversified fundraising plan that outlines targets and actions for possible funding sources. Board June 2010
Implement a corporate fundraising program. Raise $10,000 the first year. TBD December  2010
Implement a major donor fundraising program. Raise $10,000 the first year. TBD December  2010
Raise enough money to hire a professional executive director. TBD December 2013
Goal #4: Develop and implement marketing and public relations initiatives
Objective: Responsibility Target Completion Date: Status and Date
Revise structure of the webpage to increase visitor engagement and increase visitors. Add more information as available. Web Committee Ongoing. Start May 2009.
Develop updated presentation to give to area groups to teach people about Alabama’s aquatic diversity and the watershed Education Committee August 2009
Develop a media outreach plan to more effectively publicize FRCA and events TBD December 2009
Goal #5: Develop partnerships and working relationships with other area nonprofits and government officials and agencies.
Objective: Responsibility Target Completion Date: Status and Date
Get to know city and county officials throughout the watershed and establish ongoing communication with key people. All Ongoing; Start December 2009
Develop partnerships with other area environmental/conservation groups. All Ongoing; Start December 2009
Get to know the Region IV EPA office and determine how to work with them to improve inspections and oversight in north Alabama. Executive Committee Ongoing; Start December 2009

Programmatic Goals:

The result of the goals outlined in the previous sections will be an increased capacity to improve the quantity, quality, and effectiveness of the programs we offer. The following items will be reliant on first accomplishing our key organizational goals.

Goal #1: Promote a river protection ethic in adults and youth through environmental education and river stewardship opportunities.
Objective: Responsibility Target Completion Date: Status and Date
Start a “faith outreach” program to speak to church groups about FRCA. Start with the Episcopal church with a focus on their “Care of Creation” program then expand to other denominations. New board member, TBD Ongoing, start January 2010
Start and develop an outreach program to youth groups. Incorporate “hands on” programs to get kids out on the river or to the Hays Nature Preserve. New board member, TBD Ongoing, start May 2010
Develop “fun outings” to get people out on the river and more connected to it. These can be paddling, photography, bird watching, or other events on or near the river. Executive Committee ongoing
Develop a map of the river with put-in information and educational information about the river and watershed (work with the Huntsville Canoe Club?) New board member, TBD June  2010
Develop program (with the Huntsville Canoe Club?) to try to improve access to the river New board member, TBD August 2010
Start a “state of the river” report to education the public and policy makers about the health of the river and causes of impairment. New board member, TBD January 2011
Goal #2: Work with local governments, businesses, developers, civic leaders, and citizens to improve planning and development supportive of river protection.
Objective: Responsibility Target Completion Date: Status and Date
Develop an outreach program to local governments and developers to explain the need and cost benefit of using correct BMPs. TBD December 2011
Get involved in a “get the dirt out” citizen training program to teach citizens about sedimentation and get people to report problems. TBD December 2011
Develop a presentation for architects, engineers, and developers that explains Low Impact Development, its cost advantages, and start giving this presentation. This presentation can be based on the Cahaba River Society’s successful PowerPoint program. TBD December 2010
Make the River Guardian awards program more robust to ensure good developers are recognized. TBD December 2010
Goal #3: Reduce pollutant loads in the Flint River from non-point sources
Objective: Responsibility Target Completion Date: Status and Date
Develop a robust Alabama Water Watch citizen monitoring program in all areas of the watershed. When problems are discovered, publicize the problem to local media. All March 2012
Continue to advocate for ADEM reform. Increase involvement in the ADEM Reform Coalition. All December 2010
Effectively track and monitor MS4 permits All May 2010
Establish partnership with Alabama A&M University to access watershed data and be able to monitor changes throughout the watershed. Executive Committee December 2010
Ensure that members of FRCA know how to report violations to ADEM or directly to the EPA. All August 2010