Coldwater River Watershed Stewardship

Strawberry Plains Audubon Center (SPAC) and partners are promoting land and water stewardship in the Upper Coldwater River Watershed (CRW).

Vision: In a watershed facing rapid development, future generations will inherit sufficient amounts of clean water, native wildlife populations and a legacy of stewardship focused on the importance of nature.

Strawberry Plains Audubon Center (SPAC) and partners are promoting land and water stewardship in the Upper Coldwater River Watershed (CRW). The focus is for improved communication and cooperation for long-term conservation. SPAC, located near the river’s headwaters, is working to exemplify land stewardship practices.

Healthy habitats in the headwaters of Marshall County are critical to the river downstream, especially in Desoto and Tate Counties with greater municipal land use. Adopting sustainable approaches to growth and a conservation land ethic are critical if future generations are to enjoy the social and economic benefits of nature.

Photo: Generalized map of the Coldwater River Watershed

Major threats to CRW land and water resources are incompatible land use and residential/commercial growth. Land use practices are an important part of preserving natural resources, particularly in the CRW which is around 90% rural and has highly erosive soils. Growth is a major consideration due to the close proximity to Memphis. Without smart growth, habitats will be displaced, fragmented and deteriorated to a point where restoration is very difficult.

Land management plans and landowner incentives are needed to conserve wetlands, forests and grasslands. Our strategy for rural areas is to organize landowners and create a stronger land ethic in the community. Urban strategy will involve partnering with developers and planners for smarter growth. Outreach and demonstration areas are critical for both rural and urban strategies.

People, habitats and wildlife within the CRW are connected to each other and ultimately to the rivers below. The Coldwater River Stewardship Cooperative also connects with Audubon’s Mississippi River Initiative. Both involve various stakeholders working together to make the CRW a better place for future generations.

Coldwater River Plan

Conservation Targets:
1) Habitat complexes
2) Water quality and quantity

Major Threats:
1) Incompatible land use
2) Residential/Commercial development

1.Establish management plans to protect or enhance natural wetlands, forests and/or grasslands.


  • Foster communication and cooperation among landowners
  • Provide technical assistance to landowners
  • Develop demonstration areas of land stewardship and watershed educational programming.

2. Develop a greenway plan with urban partners as a watershed model.


  • Provide technical guidance concerning native plants
  • Develop certifications for a sustainable community
  • Deliver Bird-Friendly Communities, Putting Working Lands to Work for Birds & People, and other educational programs.

How you can help, right now