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Large-Scale Ecosystem Restoration: Lessons for Existing and Emerging Initiatives

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... These two agencies as well as additional federal agencies (e.g., U.S. Department of Interior), neighboring states, and stakeholder groups (e.g., The Nature Conservancy) continue to play important roles in the planning and implementation of measures to improve UMRB rivers. No single enhancement plan is being implemented in the UMRB (Vigmostad et al. 2005). The collection and contrast of complimentary river enhancement projects among involved groups may enable the formulation of more coordinated and cost-effective strategies to address impairment of UMRB rivers. ...
... The Water Resources and Development Act of 1986 authorized the USACE to undertake habitat rehabilitation and enhancement projects in the Upper Mississippi River System to offset impacts caused by lock and dam construction. Since 1994, appropriations used for Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Projects implemented along UMRB commercially navigated rivers and their floodplains have totaled US$282.7 million (Vigmostad et al. 2005). Resulting Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Projects have largely targeted the Mississippi, Illinois, and Minnesota rivers. ...
... Landowners who wish to continue to produce agricultural commodities may enroll in cost-share programs (e.g., Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Conservation Security Program) and implement various BMPs to lessen environmental impacts of operations to surrounding watersheds and rivers. Estimates of total federal funding for USDA BMP programs implemented in the UMRB and authorized by the 2002 Farm Security and Rural Investment Act are $3-$4 billion (Vigmostad et al. 2005). ...
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The Upper Mississippi River is characterized by a series of locks and dams, shallow impoundments, and thousands of river channelization structures that facilitate commercial navigation between Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Cairo, Illinois. Agriculture and urban development over the past 200 years have degraded water quality and increased the rate of sediment and nutrient delivery to surface waters. River enhancement has become an important management tool employed to address causes and effects of surface water degradation and river modification in the Upper Mississippi River Basin. We report information on individual river enhancement projects and contrast project densities, goals, activities, monitoring, and cost between commercially non-navigated and navigated rivers (Non-navigated and Navigated Rivers, respectively). The total number of river enhancement projects collected during this effort was 62,108. Cost of all projects reporting spending between 1972 and 2006 was about US$1.6 billion. Water quality management was the most cited project goal within the basin. Other important goals in Navigated Rivers included in-stream habitat improvement and flow modification. Most projects collected for Non-navigated Rivers and their watersheds originated from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the USDA were important sources for projects in Navigated Rivers. Collaborative efforts between agencies that implement projects in Non-navigated and Navigated Rivers may be needed to more effectively address river impairment. However, the current state of data sources tracking river enhancement projects deters efficient and broad-scale integration.
... Funding is always limited and presents a significant challenge to large-scale restoration efforts ( Vigmostad et al., 2005) and efforts to ad- dress agricultural non-point source pollution are no exception. Results of Keitzer et al. (in this issue) and Sowa et al. (in this issue) reinforce this reality by showing that current levels of funding available to incen- tivize and offset costs of conservation practices under the U.S. Farm Bill are insufficient to treat the acres needed to see measurable improve- ments in stream health. ...
... And, we agree that we ultimately all farm lands should have comprehensive plans that ensure they are treated with the right practices in the right place and right amount (USDA NRCS, 2011a, 2011b). However, we also be- lieve it is important to see early returns on significant investments that are made in large-scale restoration efforts like those being made to address agricultural nonpoint source pollution ( Vigmostad et al., 2005). In theory, maximizing environmental benefit of each dollar spent will speed up the ecosystem response, which is a key reason the coalition has put so much emphasis on targeting. ...
... In particular, short-term goals provide meaningful milestones to carve up the more daunting long-term goals (e.g., over 300,000 acres) into more manage- able chunks. Achieving and celebrating these early milestones can help maintain or even gain momentum and support for the work in Saginaw Bay and help achieve the long-term implementation goals and ecologi- cal outcomes (Vigmostad et al., 2005). ...
Article
There is growing evidence that addressing nonpoint source pollution within intensely agricultural regions of the Great Lakes will require innovative solutions to achieve meaningful ecological outcomes. Recognizing this, a broad coalition of partners is collaborating across Michigan's Saginaw Bay watershed to develop and test innovative approaches to achieve the vision of Strategic Agricultural Conservation. The strategy focuses on using science, technology, and new ways of incentivizing practices and delivering services to producers to address challenges and barriers to Strategic Agricultural Conservation. It uses science to model relations between conservation actions, water quality and fish community health, allowing the coalition to establish realistic ecological outcomes and both short and long-term implementation goals at a variety of scales. It uses a decision tool and pay-for-performance methods to strategically target conservation practices and increase their efficiency. It uses nontraditional partners to help increase the ability to engage landowners and streamlined the application process to help increase landowner participation. Finally, it uses secure, privacy respecting, methods to track practices and progress towards short and long-term goals. Herein we present three case studies that demonstrate the practical application of this strategy including developing and testing new innovative conservation programs across the Saginaw Bay watershed. The success of this work will ultimately be determined by a variety of factors that affect conservation at landscape scales. However, what is clear is that without the science and complementary decision tool, this collaborative adaptive management approach would be impossible to implement across such a large geography.
... In response, the repair and rejuvenation -generally termed restoration -of natural areas have become increasingly important. In the last quarter of the twentieth century the majority of restoration projects have focused on single ecosystem components or on relatively small spatial and temporal scales (NRC, 2000;Vigmostad et al., 2005). During the first two decades of this century, large-scale ecosystem restoration projects have been initiated that focus on entire watersheds. ...
... During the first two decades of this century, large-scale ecosystem restoration projects have been initiated that focus on entire watersheds. Examples include Chesapeake Bay, South Florida Everglades, Great Lakes, California Bay-Delta Restoration Program, and Columbia River in the United States of America Vigmostad et al., 2005), and Negril Marine Park, Jamaica (Porter et al., 2000). New hurdles in implementation accompany this large-scale ecosystem focus, including integration of science with management and policy, establishment of suitable monitoring programs, and development of strategies to assess restoration success (NRC, 2000(NRC, , 2003Hyman and Leibowitz, 2001). ...
... Large, complex regional restoration programs such as this must include a means for determining how well restoration goals are being met (Niemi and McDonald, 2004;Thomas, 2006;Ruiz-Jaen and Aide, 2005;Vigmostad et al., 2005). The National Research Council (NRC) (2003,2006) has recommended that a small set of system-wide ecological indicators be developed for assessing Everglades restoration. ...
Article
Developing scientifically credible tools for measuring the success of ecological restoration projects is a difficult and a non-trivial task. Yet, reliable measures of the general health and ecological integrity of ecosystems are critical for assessing the success of restoration programs. The South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force (Task Force), which helps coordinate a multi-billion dollar multi-organizational effort between federal, state, local and tribal governments to restore the Florida Everglades, is using a small set of system-wide ecological indicators to assess the restoration efforts. A team of scientists and managers identified eleven ecological indicators from a field of several hundred through a selection process using 12 criteria to determine their applicability as part of a system-wide suite. The 12 criteria are: (1) is the indicator relevant to the ecosystem? (2) Does it respond to variability at a scale that makes it applicable to the entire system? (3) Is the indicator feasible to implement and is it measureable? (4) Is the indicator sensitive to system drivers and is it predictable? (5) Is the indicator interpretable in a common language? (6) Are there situations where an optimistic trend with regard to an indicator might suggest a pessimistic restoration trend? (7) Are there situations where a pessimistic trend with regard to an indicator may be unrelated to restoration activities? (8) Is the indicator scientifically defensible? (9) Can clear, measureable targets be established for the indicator to allow for assessments of success? (10) Does the indicator have specificity to be able to result in corrective action? (11) What level of ecosystem process or structure does the indicator address? (12) Does the indicator provide early warning signs of ecological change? In addition, a two page stoplight report card was developed to assist in communicating the complex science inherent in ecological indicators in a common language for resource managers, policy makers and the public. The report card employs a universally understood stoplight symbol that uses green to indicate that targets are being met, yellow to indicate that targets have not been met and corrective action may be needed and red to represent that targets are far from being met and corrective action is required. This paper presents the scientific process and the results of the development and selection of the criteria, the indicators and the stoplight report card format and content. The detailed process and results for the individual indicators are presented in companion papers in this special issue of Ecological Indicators.
... Habitat restoration activities continue to increase in large rivers (Roni et al., 2008;Vigmostad et al., 2005), including the upper Colorado River. Although many of these projects focus on improving juvenile and adult fish habitat (Roni, 2019;Roni et al., 2008), it is important to consider fry habitat and other ecosystem disturbances that may affect early life-stage survival during these activities as part of a broader biomic restoration approach (Johnson et al., 2020). ...
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Habitat restoration activities continue to increase in large rivers, but many of these projects focus on improving juvenile or adult habitats. Incorporating the habitat associations of fry into restoration designs will allow for broader successes from restoration for all life stages and may be useful for either multispecies or specific-species management. In this study, we investigated the habitat associations of rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss and brown trout Salmo trutta fry in the upper Colorado River, focusing on the mean substrate size (D50), velocity (m s⁻¹), depth (m), and presence of wood in near-shore habitats. S. trutta and O. mykiss were found in higher numbers in fry sites with a D50 of 151 mm (ranging from 96 to 206 mm), velocities ranging from 0.20-0.23 m s⁻¹, and depths ranging from 0.17-0.18 m. Although there was considerable overlap in habitat associations between the two species, there may be opportunities for single-species management, if this is a goal of such restoration activities, by adjusting design criteria based on differing habitat associations. Additionally, our results suggest that including larger particle sizes in near-shore habitats and upstream of fry sites could decrease Tubifex tubifex habitat and thereby fry infection severity by reducing exposure to Myxobolus cerebralis. Stocking, interspecific competition, and/or the presence of pathogens can affect fry habitat associations and cause deviations from demonstrated suitability indices. As such, evaluating system-specific differences in habitat associations may allow future habitat restoration activities to be more effective. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
... A review of experimental watersheds established to document management effects on hydrologic processes shows most information has been collected for small catchments, often less than 10 km 2 (Brown et al., 2005;Goodrich et al., 1993;Hornung et al., 1990;Ziemer and Ryan, 2000). In contrast, assessments, plans, and programs are carried out on river basins with areas often exceeding 50,000 km 2 and ranging up to 800,000 km 2 (Nilsson et al., 2004;Vigmostad et al., 2005;Wong et al., 2007). Large rivers currently provide many obstacles to monitoring and knowledge development necessary for broad-scale management decisions (Petts et al., 2006). ...
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Targeted implementation of agricultural best management practices (BMPs) to reduce non‐point source pollution is the most recent strategy to improve U.S. surface waters. Little empirical evidence exists documenting effectiveness of U.S. BMP programs at the basin‐scale. This knowledge gap hampers the ability of future programs to adapt implementation strategies. Additionally, U.S. agencies may lack sufficient knowledge of upstream processes necessary to plan enhancement of downstream large rivers. This study used the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT), a deterministic hydrologic model, to predict reduction of sediment erosion and transport over a 30‐year period due to grass and woody‐riparian establishment on cropland in the La Moine River Basin, U.S.A. Mean annual sediment reduction due to BMPs was predicted to be 3.6% at the downstream watershed gage. Identification of sediment sources in this watershed based on predicted hillslope erosion indicated a cost‐effective strategy to reduce sediment load may be constrained by BMP placement primarily in the 100‐year floodplain. This study indicated upland areas should be targeted for BMP establishment. Better representation of channel and floodplain sediment processes in SWAT and other hydrological models may be required if BMP targeting in agricultural settings will be assessed by computer simulations instead of on‐the‐ground monitoring.
... Large, complex regional restoration programs such as the multi-billion dollar Everglades Restoration Initiative must include a means for determining how well restoration goals are met ( Niemi and McDonald, 2004;Thomas, 2006;Ruiz-Jaen and Aide, 2005;Vigmostad et al., 2005). Uncertainties, however, are inevitable in dealing with large ecosystems and their restoration because such systems are highly complex and not thoroughly understood. ...
Article
We developed a conceptual ecological model (CEM) for invasive species to help understand the role invasive exotics have in ecosystem ecology and their impacts on restoration activities. Our model, which can be applied to any invasive species, grew from the eco-regional conceptual models developed for Everglades restoration. These models identify ecological drivers, stressors, effects and attributes; we integrated the unique aspects of exotic species invasions and effects into this conceptual hierarchy. We used the model to help identify important aspects of invasion in the development of an invasive exotic plant ecological indicator, which is described a companion paper in this special issue journal. A key aspect of the CEM is that it is a general ecological model that can be tailored to specific cases and species, as the details of any invasion are unique to that invasive species. Our model encompasses the temporal and spatial changes that characterize invasion, identifying the general conditions that allow a species to become invasive in a de novo environment; it then enumerates the possible effects exotic species may have collectively and individually at varying scales and for different ecosystem properties, once a species becomes invasive. The model provides suites of characteristics and processes, as well as hypothesized causal relationships to consider when thinking about the effects or potential effects of an invasive exotic and how restoration efforts will affect these characteristics and processes. In order to illustrate how to use the model as a blueprint for applying a similar approach to other invasive species and ecosystems, we give two examples of using this conceptual model to evaluate the status of two south Florida invasive exotic plant species (melaleuca and Old World climbing fern) and consider potential impacts of these invasive species on restoration.
Article
Large regional programs to restore riverine habitat for fish and aquatic organisms have become common throughout North America, Europe, and elsewhere. Evaluating the effectiveness of projects implemented under these programs – sometimes called programmatic monitoring and evaluation – has proven challenging and little guidance exists on programmatic monitoring and evaluation approaches and their effectiveness. In this paper, we review different approaches for evaluating the effectiveness of river restoration projects implemented across a region. These programmatic monitoring and evaluation approaches include case studies, meta‐analyses, multiple before‐after control‐impact (mBACI), extensive post‐treatment (EPT), intensively monitored watersheds (IMW), and hybrid programmatic approaches that use a combination of different experimental designs. For each approach, we discuss the pros and cons as well as provide examples. The most appropriate approach depends in part on the questions that the programmatic monitoring and evaluation strives to address, the spatial and temporal scale at which detection of a response is expected, and the scale of inference. Case studies and the mBACI approaches can answer questions about individual projects, but have several limitations in terms of cost, timely results, and feasibility. A meta‐analysis, which can provide broadly applicable results, is dependent upon a large number of case studies being completed. The EPT approach can provide relatively quick and easy to interpret results, though it requires a large population of completed projects and careful selection of controls. The IMW approach has been broadly applied in western North America, but has had limited success and appears to be tractable only in small catchments where restoration and monitoring can be well controlled. Based on results from recent efforts in the U.S. and Europe, the most feasible programmatic monitoring and evaluation approach in terms of cost, implementability, and producing timely results, appears to be a hybrid approach that uses a combination of EPT and mBACI approaches. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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