1.5. First steps: How to Begin the Program

These steps assume that you have found a "team" or others interested in working on the idea.

Step 1: Go Through the Manual

Step 2: Identify the Watercourse
Step 3: Contact the NSSA
Step 4: Set Preliminary goals
Step 5: Sell Your Idea
Step 6: Identify Stakeholders (including landowners)
Step 7: Contact Landowners or Other Stakeholders
Step 8: Hold an Organizing Meeting
Step 9: Make a More Final plan
Step 10: Apply for Funding

Step 1: Go Through the Manual

It is not necessary at this point to read the entire manual in detail, but you should go through each section briefly so you are at least familiar with its contents. Certain sections of the manual may help you in some of these first steps. For example, the sections on the different kinds of watercourses may help you identify where you want to work.

Step 2: Identify the Watercourse

The first step in adoption is to identify what you would like to adopt. Maybe it is a stream that runs near a schoolyard or through your town. Perhaps it is a nearby lake or marsh. Maybe it is a river that you and your group have traditionally used as a local fishing area. It is important that your group reach a consensus regarding the choice of a particular watercourse. Without a commitment, the best-designed project will fail. If you're not sure of what watercourse you want to adopt, you can use this manual to help you decide or consult a professional.

Step 3: Contact the NSSA

Your initial contacts should be with:

NSSA / Adopt-A-Stream Program
R.R. 2 581 Stanburne Rd.
Barss Corner NS B0R 1A0
Tel: (902) 644-1276
Fax: (902) 644-1279
e-mail: amy.weston@ns.sympatico.ca

Tell them what watercourse you are thinking of adopting to make sure that no one else has adopted it, and let them know that you are starting to get organized. You will be given a main contact for the program who will provide you with equipment, ideas, and information.

Step 4: Set Preliminary goals

At this stage you need to make a rough plan of what you would like to do and when you would like to accomplish it. This plan will probably change over time but for now it will give you something to work with.

Step 5: Sell Your Idea

Use the suggested materials in the section Presentation/press materials to help publicize and get support for the project. Some of these materials can be readily photocopied onto overheads for use in presentations.

Step 6: Identify Stakeholders in the Community

It is very important to make sure that everyone who has some "stake" in the stream will be consulted. Changes made in the stream may affect other people, so it is important to make sure that there is support for your work. Find out who owns land around or near the watercourse. This information can be found at your local tax office.

Step 7: Contact Landowners or other Stakeholders

Whether you expect them to become involved or not, let everyone know what you plan to do with the watercourse. Communication may help change attitudes and behaviour of people, even if they aren't directly involved in your project. You might want to ask their advice about some specific part of your plan, sometimes their experience along the watercourse may add to your own bank of knowledge. Contact these landowners and explain your project. Rather than laying blame for current problems when approaching people, take the attitude that everyone must cooperate to solve the problems together.

People don't change their behaviour or attitudes if they are bombarded with accusations and spoken to in a confrontational manner.

For example, you may be aware of a particular landowner who is causing problems in the stream. For whatever reason, this landowner may not have been cooperative in the past concerning changing his/her practices. In the section called Before You Begin Restoration there are some other tips for dealing with stakeholders.

Step 8: Hold an Organizing Meeting

As a community, you should hold organizational meetings for the Adopt-A-Stream program. Your first one is important and should be carefully planned. There is nothing worse than long drawn-out meetings where little gets accomplished. Remember that by this stage a lot of preliminary contact and discussion has already occurred. People will become "sold" on the idea because of your efforts.

There are some simple things that can be done to make your meetings productive and enjoyable.


A stakeholder is anyone who has an interest or ownership of the watercourse or the areas around it. Stakeholders include many people and organizations in your community:

Landowners along the watercourse

Local government officials (mayor, warden, councilors)

Local fishing, trapping, or hunting groups

Local naturalist, birding, canoeing, environmental, photography clubs and groups

Industry - including service industries, hospital, radio, newspaper, restaurants, small businesses



Local tourist operators

Local schools (the next generation are some of the most important stakeholders)

First Nations groups

Government (federal, provincial, municipal)

Set clear and concise goals for the meeting. All too often meetings are held without clear goals. This usually leads to a "lot of talk and little action". Get together with your planning team and brainstorm on what you want to accomplish at the meeting. Knowing exactly what you want to accomplish (forming an organization or getting help for example) is very important.

Publicize the meeting well. Send the Press Release contained in the section on Presentation/Press Materials to local newspapers, and radio stations, and Cable Television stations. Many community newspapers will print the press release in its entirety. Use the Community Bulletins on radio and television to advertise your meeting.

Make sure all the stakeholders are invited. Don't leave anyone out. You may want to invite a government stakeholder, from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans or the N.S. Department of Agriculture & Fisheries.

Have an agenda. Write it on a blackboard or pass it out on a piece of paper so people know what is going on. This does not have to be complicated but it will help you stay on track.

Know what you want to say and say it clearly. It's not necessary to write a speech but it is worthwhile to write down the points you want to cover. Index cards can be useful for this purpose.

Limit the meeting length to a maximum of one and a half hours.

Start on time and finish when you say you will.

Make people feel comfortable. For many people, this includes providing coffee, tea, or juice. If you do provide these, ask people to "lug-a-mug". Don't use disposable cups. Conservation should begin at the meeting.

Speak loudly and clearly.

Choose your "expert" speakers carefully. They can often be too technical and long-winded. Keep things simple and informal. If you invite an "expert" make sure you tell him/her that you want an informal, simple presentation that uses visual materials (slides or videos).

Always leave time for questions and take everyone's ideas into consideration.

If your group is larger than 15 people, break into small groups when you need to discuss something. People are often uncomfortable speaking up in large groups especially if they don't know each other well. If you have a large group and a limited amount of time only a few people will get a chance to speak. Small groups allow everyone more time to express their opinions.


1. Appoint someone as leader, chairperson, or manager of the project. The project needs someone to coordinate activities. Sometimes homemakers, retired persons, or other people whose time is more flexible can be ideal candidates.

2. Make a task list. To do this you will have to become familiar with the entire manual. The manual will take you through each section carefully.

3. Create committees or recruit individuals to carry out the tasks. At this stage just concentrate on tasks that will keep things moving.

If you have developed a group made up of different parts of the community you should assign specific tasks to each group. For example, schoolchildren might be great at collecting information about the past

Sample Task List/First Meeting:

Contact Village Donuts to see if they can provide coffee and donuts for the next meeting Mary-Ann MacDonald By the end of the month
Write up a short press release for the newspaper about what we're doing (using press materials in the manual) Marcel Fournier For next Monday
Call NSSA Adopt-a-Stream to let them know we're going ahead John Chisholm By next week
Get together with committee to make a budget etc etc
Read the rest of the manual    
Give talk at school to get kids excited about the project    
Get information on oral history to Seniors Club
(you can Xerox forms in this manual) and so on... (there will be lots of tasks)

Step 9: Make a More Final Plan

Making a plan involves using your common sense. Basically a plan tells the following information in a short and simple fashion:

What you are going to do? --> Project Proposal
Why you are doing it? --> Background Information/Rationale
Who is going to do it? --> Project Staff/Volunteers
How is it going to be done? --> Methods
When is it going to be done? --> Time-Line
How is it going to be paid for? --> Budget
Was it worthwhile? --> Evaluation

As with the task list, you will be unable to make a complete project plan until you have gone through other sections of this manual.

Step 10: Apply for Funding

Although it is entirely possible to use the Adopt-A-Stream program without funding, there may be expenses that you would like to have covered. These might include:

- Hiring a project manager or coordinator
- Organizational costs (meeting costs, printing, travel)
- Costs for education and training workshops or to sponsor special speakers
- Costs to cover special rehabilitation work in the watercourse (building a fishway or fixing a culvert).
- Advertising costs to promote the program
- Photographic costs to document your work

If you have decided you need funding, you will need to prepare a budget. The next page shows a sample budget for an imaginary Adopt-A-Stream Program. In the section on Presentation/Press Materials you will also find a sample letter to send to groups that may provide support. Most funding sources have their own format for proposals so be sure to obtain the proper forms. Make sure your budget shows the cost of items that are being donated. Many funding programs will finance only part of a program. If you can show that your community is donating some costs, even if it's volunteer labour, your chances of getting money will be better. Remember that you can put a dollar figure on volunteer time. Many funding programs will match other sources of funds, donated material, and volunteer time, but will not contribute without them. If the fund allows it, be sure to include time spent by government employees as a contribution to your project.

Sample Adopt-A-Stream Budget Request
The Any Nova Scotia Watercourse Stewardship Group

The Any Nova Scotia Watercourse stewardship group is a community group formed in Anywhere, Nova Scotia to look after and protect the Any Nova Scotia Watercourse. We are seeking partners to help us. Our group is made up of members from the following groups:

Grade Eight class: Northern Oriole Junior High
Grade Eleven class: Blue Jay High
The Bald Eagle Naturalists Club
The Atlantic Salmon Fishing Club
The Active Seniors Club
Anywhere, Nova Scotia Town Council
Village Manufacturers (local industry)

Volunteers from these groups will be doing the work.
We seek funds to clean up, enhance, and become general stewards of the Any Nova Scotia Watercourse through the Nova Scotia Salmon Association's Adopt-a-Stream Program. When we contacted government officials they suggested that we need to do the following on our watercourse:
1. Write an oral history of the watercourse
2. Assess the current land use
3. Do a watercourse survey
4. Clean up the watercourse

After completing these tasks we may also need to build a fishway and repair some culverts. Attached is a budget request for funding. This budget is for the year 200-. At the back of this document you will find letters from the organizations that have agreed to make contributions to the project.

{Attach a simple statement of your monetary needs as shown below}
Budget Requirements Amount Needed Current Contributions Funds Requested
Project Coordinator $10,000.00 Town of Anywhere $5000.00 $5,000.00
Meeting Costs $ 750.00 Village Donuts (coffee) $100.00
University: speaker $200.00
Promotion: local newspaper $450.00 ;
Documentation of work-Photography $ 200.00 Anywhere Photo Labs $200.00 $0000.00
Clean up Costs (bags etc.) $ 200.00 Anywhere Grocery Store $200.00 $0000.00
Oral History report write-up $ 250.00 Anywhere Heritage Club $250.00 $0000.00
Purchase of Maps and supplies $ 100.00 Anywhere Trail Club $100.00 $0000.00

* Other items may need to be added to this budget such as photocopying

Although the total budget is $11,500, parts can be donated as a contribution other than cash. You can document the worth of something that is donated to your project. For example, in this budget, Village Donuts has agreed to provide coffee and donuts for the meetings. They have estimated the cost of this donation to be $100.00. This is put into the budget as a monetary figure.

Always remember that it is often easier to get equipment or supplies donated rather than a cash donation. These are called "in-kind" contributions or contributions that are made to your organization in the form of supplies or time. As another example, a construction firm may be willing to donate a few hours of machine-time if you need large machinery at some point. A lumber company may be willing to donate wood if it is required. Both money and "in-kind" contributions can come from the following sources

1. Local Industries
Many companies like to be involved in community or school projects and are quite willing to help with environmental work of this kind. In bigger companies, contact the communications department of the company first by writing a letter explaining your group and what you're trying to do. Ask for an appointment to discuss the matter with the company. You can use some material in the section on Presentation/Press Materials if you wish to make a presentation. Tell the company that you will be publicizing your work and will give them credit for their support. Don't just look for the biggest and most obvious companies and industries. Small service industries like hotels, restaurants, local newspaper and radio all may be willing to help with your project. In these cases, just dropping in and chatting with the owner can prove to be helpful. School children can help you solicit donations as part of their contribution to the project.

Some businesses like Shell Canada and TD Canada Trust have special Environmental Funding Programs.

2. Municipal Government
Some municipal councils can be convinced to fund projects of this kind, particularly if they know that it can enhance the natural beauty of their region and the productivity of fish, thus increasing the ecotourism potential. Start by writing a letter to the town or county clerk and ask to be put on the agenda of the next meeting. When you go to the meeting, you might want to use the overheads contained in the section on Presentation/Press materials.

Explain to the council what your group is trying to do. Getting your local government involved is always beneficial. Some communities will even suggest that minor court sentences be handed out as community work. You might want to suggest to a local judge that traffic offenses be worked off by helping your group with stream rehabilitation. If you do participate in programs where orders are issued from the court, you must have the work ready to be done and be available to supervise the work. Municipal governments are also closely connected with the recreational groups in your area and may be able to suggest places to get more assistance.

3. Federal Government
Generally the federal government supports non-profit groups and projects. There may be many government departments willing to support your work. Federal government departments encourage partnerships of different kinds, so people should not hesitate to explore those they even consider to be unlikely. In one Nova Scotia project, major stream work was carried out with the support of Correctional Services Canada. Many of the Departments do not have formal funding programs but encourage communities to partner in their programs which sometimes match well with adopting a watershed.

The Federal Department of the Environment's National Green Source Funding Guide is the best source of information on funding and how to obtain it. This guide will help you locate numerous sources of funding for environmental projects. It includes information on public and private sector programs and organizations that provide financial assistance, labour costs or in-kind donations to community groups.

The Green Source is available in searchable database format, (http://www.ec.gc.ca/ecoaction/grnsrc/index_e.cfm) or in hard copy format available from the Environment Canada regional office.
Atlantic Region, Queen Square, 45 Alderney Drive, Dartmouth NS, B2Y 2N6
ph: 426-7990

They also have information guides that will help you plan your project and fundraising.

Community Environmental Projects: From Needs Assessment to Evaluation
This Reference Guide is an excellent step-by-step resource for groups who want to turn a good idea into a successful community environmental project.
These links will re-direct you to Atlantic Region's EcoAction page:

Fundraising Ideas that Work for Grassroots Groups, by Ken Wyman brought to you courtesy of the Community Partnerships Programs of the Department of Canadian Heritage. This publication provides advice on fundraising for grassroots groups. It includes sections on the fundraising climate in Canada, the four types of fundraising, working with volunteers, and more.
These links will re-direct you to Canadian Heritage Site:
HTML or PDF. http://www.pch.gc.ca/progs/pc-cp/pubs/e/fr4gras1.htm

What You Can Do website
The What You Can do website is a place to find information, resources, tools and ideas to help you take action for a healthier environment.

4. Provincial Government

The N.S. Department of the Environment and Labour runs an annual youth conservation corps that may be able to assist you with your work.

Program Coordinator
Nova Scotia Youth Conservation Corps
Nova Scotia Environment and Labour
5151 Terminal Road, 5th floor
P.O. Box 697
Halifax, Nova Scotia
B3J 2T8
Tel: 902-424-6307
Fax: 902-424-3571
Email: nsycc@gov.ns.ca

Many funding programs change from year to year. Your contacts at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries will have up-to-date information.

5. The Nova Scotia Salmon Association Adopt-a-Stream Program funding

The Nova Salmon Association has funding support available for non-profit groups who are undertaking projects, which will improve the sport fish habitats. This funding is provided through the Sport-fish Habitat Stamp purchased by anglers with their fishing license and contributions to the Association. A funding guide is available on the NSSA web page (look under programs / adopt-a- stream) or from the program coordinator.

NSSA / Adopt-A-Stream Program
R.R. 2 581 Stanburne Rd.
Barss Corner NS B0R 1A0
Tel: (902) 644-1276
Fax: (902) 644-1279
e-mail: amy.weston@ns.sympatico.ca

6. Local Events
Local events such as bake sales, fairs, flea markets, fishing derbies, auctions, t-shirt sales, and contests are all excellent fund-raisers and also a way of letting people in your community know what you're doing.

There are many innovative ways to raise money and most Nova Scotian communities are good at working together on these kinds of events. Use local people whom you know have special talents for organizing events like this.

Now that you have a well-organized group that is ready to work your group will complete the following phases:
--> Learn about watersheds
--> Learn about stream, wetland, salt marsh, and other habitats
--> Learn about fish and how they live
--> Research the history of the watercourse
--> Survey the watercourse as it exists today
--> Survey the watercourse to see where the problems are
--> Develop maps of past and present situations on the watercourse
--> Develop a suitable rehabilitation plan by working with a habitat official
--> Rehabilitate the watercourse
--> Publicize your work