SKAGIT WATERSHED COUNCIL OPERATING PROCEDURES
ADOPTED July 2009, REVISED March 2010
Purpose of this Manual
This manual details all aspects of the operation of the Skagit Watershed Council (the Watershed Council hereafter) including membership, the Board of Directors, committees, financial and personnel. This document works in conjunction with adopted bylaws and is reviewed and updated, if necessary, on an annual basis by the Board of Directors.
About the Watershed Council
The Watershed Council was founded in 1997 as an inclusive organization to undertake the following:
Advance a common restoration/protection strategy as a means to promote sustainable fisheries;
Serve as a forum to collaboratively address issues affecting the fisheries resource;
Provide direction and leadership on matters related to Skagit fisheries;
Ensure coordination and integration of salmon habitat restoration and protection activities; and
Build understanding and support for the mission of the Watershed Council.
The Watershed Council developed and adopted two foundational documents: the Habitat Restoration and Protection Strategy (1998) which provides the basic framework for the work of the organization; and the Strategy Application (1999) which applied the Strategy to conditions in the watershed. Additionally, an Annual Strategic Approach which lays out guiding principles and target areas was developed each year in 2001 through 2005. The 2010 Strategic Approach was approved by the Board in March 2010.
The Watershed Council was designated Lead Entity by the Skagit Council of Governments and Skagit System Cooperative Resolution, under the provisions of RCW 77.85, an act relating to salmon recovery and watershed health.
As Lead Entity the Watershed Council assumed the administrative and contractual responsibility as follows:
Maintain a Lead Entity organization
Organize and staff a committee of representative interests
Create a prioritized list for submission to the Salmon Recovery Funding Board
Interact with regional and statewide processes
Create and maintain a Habitat Work Schedule
Track current project implementation
Coordinate future project development
The Puget Sound Chinook Recovery Plan was adopted in 2005. The Council has assumed responsibility for coordinating the capital program of the Skagit Chapter of the Puget Sound Chinook Recovery Plan. The program is science-driven and natural-process based, in keeping with the basic philosophy of the Council, which is embedded in the organization’s foundation documents.
The Council interacts with the Salmon Recovery Program of the Puget Sound Partnership, the Salmon Recovery Funding Program of the Recreation and Conservation Office and with the Lead Entity Advisory Group.
Basic Operating Philosophy
The Council will be collaborative, strategic, creative and proactive in all its dealings.
The Council’s membership base is valuable to the organization.
The Council relies on the members to both share and disseminate information.
Membership is the pool from which the Board selects Board and committee members.
Membership in the Council is open to associations, corporations, not-for-profit organizations, and public agencies that desire to affiliate with the Council and that subscribe to its purposes.
Membership is initiated by completing a Membership Form and designating individuals to serve as representatives of the member organization.
Active membership is achieved through the regular participation of those designated individuals in the work of the Council, serving on work groups, special committees, standing committees or the Board of Directors.
The Council will maintain a list of active memberships that will be annually reviewed and updated by the Board, in consultation with the committee chairs. Active members are considered “members in good standing” and will make up the pool for Council decision-making.
The governing body is the Board of Directors, which consists of from seven to nine members. These are elected positions with three-year terms.
The Board manages the organization and employs staff to carry out the purpose of the organization and to undertake all necessary administrative functions.
Additional staff support is provided by the WDFW Watershed Steward.
Criteria for Board membership
Board members are selected on the basis of:
organizational mission congruence
administrative/ organizational development experience
well-positioned within the member organizations
ability to bring resources to the Council
knowledgeable about the Council and its workings
technical expertise related to the Council’s strategic goals
proven track record of participation and support
willingness to engage and devote the needed time
The Board appoints a Nomination Committee, composed of at least two Board members and one Council member.
The Nomination Committee conducts a search for candidates that meet the requirements of Board membership and prepares a slate of candidates for Board consideration.
The Board accepts, rejects or amends the slate of candidates.
The Nomination Committee solicits a personal statement from each candidate and circulates a recommendation to active Council members.
The election consists of the Nomination Committee presenting the slate to the membership and asking for acceptance.
The election takes place at a General Council meeting, the date of which is set by the Board.
The election can also take place electronically, if circumstances warrant.
The term for a Director will be 3 years, but Directors serve until a successor is elected or until he/she resigns or is removed by the Board. Any director or officer may be removed by affirmative vote of two-thirds of the Board of Directors for non-performance of duties including meeting attendance, or other cause deemed sufficient by the Board.
Work groups undertake the primary, substantive work of the Council. It is the responsibility of the Board, working closely with member organizations, to establish work groups as necessary to carry out the purposes of the organization.
Where appropriate board members are encouraged to formally participate as work group members.
Work groups operate under the direction of the Board and make recommendations to the Board for the Board’s consideration, except where explicit decision-making authority has been granted by the Board to the work group.
Work group membership is drawn from those organizations which are members of the Council, except in those circumstances where this requirement would limit access to needed expertise. Qualifications include the required expertise and the willingness to participate regularly.
In general, expertise is sought in the following disciplines: hydrology; geology; riparian forestry; water quality; fluvial geomorphology; fish biology; freshwater and estuarine ecology; restoration project implementation; protection project implementation; and engineering.
Work groups operate with a set membership of no specific number. Membership is affirmed annually. New members may be proposed during the year by common agreement of the work group and confirmed by the Board.
The Board appoints chairs for work groups based on recommendations from the members of those bodies, or on the Board’s authority. The term of chair is confirmed annually, at the same time as membership. In certain circumstances the Board may appoint a chair and authorize the chair to assemble a work group for the task at hand.
Meetings are conducted using the various Council procedures laid out in this document. It is the responsibility of the chair to maintain a Council perspective and to make sure that proceedings are conducted in a transparent, systematic and fair manner.
The following requirements extend to all the groupings within the organization: The Board of Directors and work groups alike.
The Council is committed to transparent decision-making and timely dissemination of decisions. The preferred mode of decision-making is by consensus or general agreement.
If general agreement is not achieved the preferred mode is to continue to seek agreement, within a reasonable timeframe set by the group. Members are encouraged to network with each other in hopes of finding agreement in a timely way.
A vote will be taken only when it becomes clear that general agreement is unlikely to occur within the reasonable time frame set by the group. At that point the chair may call for a vote, with the majority constituting two-thirds of the set members.
An issue may be tabled with the concurrence of two-thirds of the set members.
Important decisions will be handled, where reasonable, through the two meeting “no surprises” rule i.e. introduce at one meeting for a decision at the next.
It is the responsibility of each member to educate themselves on the issue at hand by seeking information and networking with their fellows.
Only members in good standing participate in decision-making. See the membership sections for the determination of good standing.
Each member organization has one vote only.
A quorum consists of two-thirds of the set members.
Frequent and relevant information-sharing with the membership is critical to the success of the organization.
The Council is committed to timely dissemination of information regarding the work of the organization The Council will make use of a number of tools and techniques such as the website, E-newsletters, targeted phone calls, formal and informal meetings, workshops and field trips.
Members have the responsibility to keep their organizations informed about the work of the Council and to share with fellow Council members the work of their organization.
Broader understanding and support is critical to achieving salmon recovery. The Council will engage in two-way communication in two major ways: in concert with its membership and in direct outreach to elected officials and other key stakeholders.
The Council will develop common messages around specific issues or topics when and where possible, focusing on big picture messaging i.e. salmon are good.
The Board’s community involvement will involve two parts: working in concert with member organizations to reach stakeholders in order to create an enabling environment, and direct outreach by the Board to elected officials and other stakeholders.
The Council will not pursue the role of coordinating outreach efforts in the watershed.
It is the Council’s practice to establish well in advance a schedule of meetings and to disseminate the schedule widely.
The Board of Directors meets monthly and, in addition, holds an annual day-long retreat. Other meetings are scheduled as the need arises.
Project-specific meetings will be organized with consideration of the schedules of all participants.
Work groups meet as needed and determined in advance by the group.
The Board may schedule joint meetings with a work group.
A General Council meeting is held bi-annually on the second Wednesday of the selected months. General meetings are open to the public and those with general interest in the work of the Council are always welcome.
After soliciting input from the membership, the Board of Directors will approve annual or bi-annual work plans relating to the work of the organization.
The Board, in consultation with members, will establish standing committees, special committees and work groups as needed to efficiently undertake the annual work plan.