The N.C. Division of Mitigation Services uses a watershed approach to determine priority areas for implementation of mitigation projects. The purpose of this approach is to concentrate mitigation resources in areas where they will have the greatest benefit to local watershed functions. The DMS watershed approach applies multi-scale watershed planning to set and achieve goals for maintaining and improving aquatic resources throughout NC.

River Basin Restoration Priorities 

DMS develops River Basin Restoration Priorities (RBRPs) for each of the seventeen river basins by conducting a detailed screening for each eight-digit catalog unit (500-2000 square miles) within a river basin (1000-10,000 square miles).   RBRPs identify priority 14-digit hydrologic unit (20-100 square mile) watersheds that exhibit a need for restoration and protection of wetlands, streams and riparian buffers. These Targeted Local Watersheds (TLWs) receive priority for DMS planning and restoration project funds. 

DMS is currently in the process of updating its watershed prioritization process. While DMS transitions to a new process, it is updating individual 8-digit CUs that are anticipated to have extensive mitigation needs and/or CUs with outdated data considered insufficient to support prioritization decisions. Detailed information on the DMS methodology for identifying TLWs is provided at  DMS RBRP Update page.

Regional Watershed Plans

Regional Watershed Plans (RWPs) typically encompass approximately 500 square miles and build upon existing planning efforts, including Local Watershed Plans and RBRP priorities, as well as stakeholder momentum. RWPs evaluate aquatic resource conditions and identify priorities based upon watershed functions. The RWP includes management strategies and implementation recommendations that may be applied to smaller catchment areas (2 to 5 sq mi) based upon existing data and modeled watershed conditions.  This allows DMS to focus implementation of compensatory-mitigation projects in watersheds that exhibit the greatest opportunity for improvement. 

Local Watershed Plans

Local Watershed Plans (LWPs) are a more comprehensive examination of the factors contributing to degradation of watersheds and typically average 100 square miles in area.   LWPs are developed in RBRP priority areas that exhibit large mitigation needs.  LWPs incorporate field assessments and data collection as well as a comprehensive stakeholder process with representatives of local governments, environmental resource professionals, nonprofit organizations and local communities. 

LWPs are conducted in four phases:  1) Watershed Characterization, 2) Watershed Assessment, 3) Watershed Management Plan and 4) Plan Implementation. Details on DMS local water planning methodology are provided in the LWP Planning Manual.