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Keywords:

  • ecoregions;
  • basins;
  • watersheds;
  • hydrologic units;
  • ecosystem management

ABSTRACT: In an effort to adopt more holistic ecosystem approaches to resource assessment and management, many state and federal agencies have begun using watershed or ecoregion frameworks. Although few would question the need to make this move from dealing with problems and issues on a case by case or point-type basis to broader regional contexts, misunderstanding of each of the frameworks has resulted in inconsistency in their use and ultimate effectiveness. The focus of this paper is on the clarification of both frameworks. We stress that the issue is not whether to use watersheds (or basins or hydrologic units) or ecoregions for needs such as developing ecosystem management and non-point source pollution strategies or structuring water quality regulatory programs, but how to correctly use the frameworks together. Definitions, uses, and misuses of each of the frameworks are discussed as well as ways watersheds and ecoregions can be and have been used together effectively to meet resource management needs.