Understand Current Knowledge and Data
A thorough review of existing planning documents, studies and data sets is essential when starting an SMP. Using recent studies and data to characterize existing conditions will save time and money, as compared to collecting new data, and can help identify the needs and goals that a SMP can address.
Common Starting Points
The depth and quality of existing data will vary widely from place to place, but there are some common starting points. The list below includes both high-level reports and fine-scale datasets. It isn’t necessary to fully analyze all of these before you begin (that will be done as part of your SMP), but understanding the amount and quality of existing information will ensure that you craft a scope of work and accompanying budget for your SMP that accounts for existing information.
Public land management agencies including BLM, U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife maintain large data sets (both published and unpublished) on riparian condition and aquatic biota.
The Colorado Natural Heritage Program recently released a Watershed Planning Toolbox and web mapping tool that includes spatial data sets on wetlands and waterbodies, biodiversity and wildlife habitat functions, water quality functions, water quantity and geomorphic functions, and restoration prioritization.