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Assessing Societal Impacts When Planning Restoration of Large Alluvial Rivers: A Case Study of the Sacramento River Project, California


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Studies have shown that ecological restoration projects are more likely to gain public support if they simultaneously increase important human services that natural resources provide to people. River restoration projects have the potential to influence many of the societal functions (e.g., flood control, water quality) that rivers provide, yet most projects fail to consider this in a comprehensive manner. Most river restoration projects also fail to take into account opportunities for revitalization of large-scale river processes, focusing instead on opportunities presented at individual parcels. In an effort to avoid these pitfalls while planning restoration of the Sacramento River, we conducted a set of coordinated studies to evaluate societal impacts of alternative restoration actions over a large geographic area. Our studies were designed to identify restoration actions that offer benefits to both society and the ecosystem and to meet the information needs of agency planning teams focusing on the area. We worked with local partners and public stakeholders to design and implement studies that assessed the effects of alternative restoration actions on flooding and erosion patterns, socioeconomics, cultural resources, and public access and recreation. We found that by explicitly and scientifically melding societal and ecosystem perspectives, it was possible to identify restoration actions that simultaneously improve both ecosystem health and the services (e.g., flood protection and recreation) that the Sacramento River and its floodplain provide to people. Further, we found that by directly engaging with local stakeholders to formulate, implement, and interpret the studies, we were able to develop a high level of trust that ultimately translated into widespread support for the project.
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Assessing Societal Impacts When Planning
Restoration of Large Alluvial Rivers: A Case Study of
the Sacramento River Project, California
The Nature Conservancy
Northern Central Valley Office
Chico, California 95928, USA
Department of Geology
University of California
Davis, California 95616, USA
EDAW, Sacramento, California 95814, USA
Archaeological Research Program
California State University
Chico, California 95929, USA
ABSTRACT / Studies have shown that ecological restoration
projects are more likely to gain public support if they
simultaneously increase important human services that nat-
ural resources provide to people. River restoration projects
have the potential to influence many of the societal functions
(e.g., flood control, water quality) that rivers provide, yet
most projects fail to consider this in a comprehensive man-
ner. Most river restoration projects also fail to take into ac-
count opportunities for revitalization of large-scale river
processes, focusing instead on opportunities presented at
individual parcels. In an effort to avoid these pitfalls while
planning restoration of the Sacramento River, we conducted
a set of coordinated studies to evaluate societal impacts of
alternative restoration actions over a large geographic area.
Our studies were designed to identify restoration actions that
offer benefits to both society and the ecosystem and to meet
the information needs of agency planning teams focusing on
the area. We worked with local partners and public stake-
holders to design and implement studies that assessed the
effects of alternative restoration actions on flooding and
erosion patterns, socioeconomics, cultural resources, and
public access and recreation. We found that by explicitly
and scientifically melding societal and ecosystem perspec-
tives, it was possible to identify restoration actions that
simultaneously improve both ecosystem health and the ser-
vices (e.g., flood protection and recreation) that the Sacra-
mento River and its floodplain provide to people. Further, we
found that by directly engaging with local stakeholders to
formulate, implement, and interpret the studies, we were
able to develop a high level of trust that ultimately translated
into widespread support for the project.
The aquatic biodiversity of North American rivers is
in dire straits. Extinction rates in the continentÕs
freshwater ecosystems are as high as those in tropical
forests (Ricciardi and Rasmussen 1999). Centuries of
extractive uses have left rivers in the developed world
in a degraded condition—denuded of their forests,
disconnected from their floodplains, and severely al-
tered in both their flow and sediment regimes
(Dynesius and Nilsson 1994; Richter and others 1997).
If we are to avert further aquatic extinctions and eco-
system degradation, river restoration must be imple-
mented soon, and on a large scale.
Restoring the underlying physical processes and
natural flow regimes that have shaped rivers over the
millennia will help sustain aquatic biodiversity (Gore
and Shields 1995; Stanford and others 1996; Poff and
others 1997). However, it is unlikely that most rivers will
ever be completely returned to their natural states.
Floodplains will continue to be managed to maximize
economic prosperity, river flow patterns will be
regulated to protect important human infrastructure
(e.g., bridges, roads, floodplain farmlands), and large
quantities of water will continue to be appropriated for
agriculture and drinking. River restoration will
necessarily entail a delicate balancing act—ideally by
KEY WORDS: Floodplain; Resource management planning; River
restoration; Sacramento River; Societal impacts;
Published online March 2, 2006.
*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; email:
Environmental Management Vol. 37, No. 6, pp. 862–879 ª 2006 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.
DOI: 10.1007/s00267-004-0167-x
enhancing natural ecosystem processes without com-
promising important human services that rivers provide.
Although there are numerous general discussions of
how to balance human and biodiversity needs in riv-
erine systems (e.g., Gleick 1998; Baron and others
2002; Richter and others 2003), there are few examples
of how to advance river restoration in specic situa-
tions amid local skepticism or misunderstanding (but
see Rhoads and others 1999; Whalen and others 2002;
Postel and Richter 2003). To be effective, river resto-
rationists need access to more information about the
specic issues that arise during public involvement and
more examples of ways in which stakeholders have
been positively engaged in restoration planning.
Additionally, as river restorationists are increasingly
adopting a watershed approach when planning resto-
ration projects (Stanford and others 1996; Ward and
others 2001), the demand for comprehensive, large-
scale assessments is greater than ever before. Finally,
the need to develop appropriate tools for addressing
stakeholder concerns cannot be underestimated, as
large-scale restoration projects typically require broad-
based and local support before funds are awarded for
their implementation.
We have been involved with restoration of the
Sacramento River since 1988, working with partners to
balance human and biodiversity needs. This approach
has helped us deal with heterogeneous and, at times,
stubborn opposition and build a collective vision for
restoration of the river. Drawing on these experiences,
in this article, we (1) discuss those issues that were of
greatest concern to local stakeholders, (2) describe the
studies that were performed to address these issues (3)
identify stakeholder reactions to the studies and how
they were addressed to build trust and advance resto-
ration planning (4) examine remaining uncertainties
that should be addressed through additional investi-
gations and (5) provide guidance on integrating
stakeholders into river restoration science and plan-
ning studies.
The Sacramento River is the largest and most
important river in California. The river drains
approximately 6.2 million hectares of the northern
Central Valley and supplies 80% of the freshwater
owing into the SacramentoSan Joaquin Bay-Delta
(California State Lands Commission 1993). Histori-
cally, the river was lined by approximately 324,000 ha
of riparian habitat; however, over 95% of this habitat
has been lost to logging, agriculture, urban develop-
ment, and ood control and power generation pro-
jects (Katibah 1984). Two-thirds of the linear extent
of the riverÕs banks have been modied and conned
by levees and riprap (bank revetment), and Shasta
Dam has degraded the remaining natural habitats by
restricting ow regimes that promote riparian habitat
succession and regeneration (Kondolf and others
Cumulatively, these changes have greatly stressed
the natural communities and species associated with
the Sacramento River. The loss and degradation of
riparian habitat has diminished the riverÕs ability to
support viable wildlife populations and encouraged the
invasion and proliferation of non-native invasive spe-
cies. At-risk special-status taxa in the region include
diverse species of sh [e.g., Sacramento splittail
(Pogonichthys macrolepidotus), green sturgeon (Acipenser
medirostris), chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha),
steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)], birds [e.g.,
Western yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus occi-
dentalis), SwainsonÕs hawk (Buteo swainsoni), bank
swallow (Riparia riparia)], mammals {e.g., western
mastiff bat (Eumops perotis)], Yuma myotis (Myotis yu-
manensis)], and insects [e.g., valley elderberry long-
horn beetle (Desmocerus californicus dimorphus)]
(CALFED 2000a).
A History of Planning Efforts
In 1986, state and federal agencies and nongov-
ernment organizations began to implement manage-
ment programs aimed at improving the health of the
river. The California legislature passed Senate Bill
1086, which called for the formation of the Upper
Sacramento River Fisheries and Riparian Habitat
Council, and in 1989, by the authority provided under
the Endangered Species Act, the US Fish and Wildlife
Service (USFWS) Sacramento River National Wildlife
Refuge (the Refuge) was established. The CALFED
Bay-Delta Program has furthered these efforts. CAL-
FEDÕs 30-year mission is ‘‘to develop and implement a
long-term comprehensive plan that will restore eco-
logical health and improve water management for
benecial uses of the Bay-Delta System’’ (CALFED
2000b). At a more local level, four other major gov-
ernment agency planning efforts similarly seek to bal-
ance human use with ecosystem heath and restoration
on the Sacramento River. Key attributes of each are
presented in Table 1.
To advance these planning efforts, The Nature
Conservancy (TNC), in 1988, launched the Sacra-
mento River Project (the Project). Key Project partners
include the Sacramento River Conservation Area For-
um, the USFWS, the US Army Corps of Engineers
Assessing Societal Impacts of River Restoration 863
Table 1. Key attributes of major natural resource planning efforts in the Sacramento River Project Area that seek to balance human use and
ecosystem conservation/restoration
Planning effort Geographic focus area Total area
Resource management
goals Associated documents Completion date
Bay Delta
Sacramento and San Joa-
quin Valleys, San Fran-
cisco Bay Delta, and
Southern California
>23 million ha Water supply reliability
Levee system integrity
Water quality
Ecosystem restoration
CALFED 2000b, 2001 2030 (2008 for comple-
tion of stage 1)
US Army Corps of Engi-
neers Sacramento and
San Joaquin River
Basins Comprehensive
Entire Sacramento
and San Joaquin
River Basins
>10 million ha Flood management
Ecosystem restoration
US Army Corps of Engi-
neers 2002, 2003
None specified
US Fish and Wildlife Ser-
vice Sacramento River
National Wildlife
Refuge (the Refuge)
Conservation Plan
124-km stretch of
the Sacramento River
between Red Bluff
and Princeton
3666 ha at 22 units
under fee title
ha under conservation
Long-term conserva-
tion of fish, wildlife,
plants, and their
Compatible wildlife-
dependent recreation
Cultural resource pres-
US Fish and Wildlife
Service 1997
Finalized June 2005
California Department of
Fish and Game Sacra-
mento River Wildlife
Area Comprehensive
Management Plan
113-km stretch of the
Sacramento River
between Corning
and Colusa
1467 ha at 13 units
under fee title
Protect and enhance
habitat for wildlife
Provide public with
compatible wildlife-
related recreation.
California Department of
Fish and Game 2002
Finalized April 2004
California Department of
Parks and Recreation
River State Park
General Plan
River State Park
97 ha Protection and long-
term management of
cultural and natural
Compatible recreation
California Department
of Parks and
Recreation 1991
Note: The studies profiled in this article were designed to provide information for these efforts.
As of June 2003.
For further information, see
For further information, see
Of particular relevance to conservation and restoration planning efforts in the Sacramento River Project area is the current Hamilton City Flood Damage Reduction and Ecosystem Restoration
Feasibility Study. Additional information on this project of the USACE Comprehensive Study can be found at
The Refuge has the specific goal of conserving 7284 ha of floodplain habitats in fee title.
864 G. H. Golet and others
(USACE), the California Department of Fish and
Game (DFG), the California Department of Parks and
Recreation (DPR), and the California Department of
Water Resources (DWR). The main goal of the Project
is to develop and implement a ‘‘single blueprint’’ for
the restoration and management on the main stem of
the Sacramento River, so that different efforts along
the river collectively support a unied vision for the
future and do not work at odds with one another. Our
strategies include the following: (1) conserving ood-
prone lands, giving priority to those that contain and/
or border remnant riparian habitats (5424 ha thus far
acquired in fee title), (2) revegetating land with native
trees, shrubs, and understory species (1457 ha thus
far replanted, 1228 ha planned), and (3) restoring
natural river processes (Golet and others 2003).
TNCÕs Sacramento River Project Area
The Nature Conservancy has focused restoration
efforts on the meandering reach of the Sacramento
River, between the towns of Red Bluff and Colusa
(161 river km, inset in Figure 1), because this area
presents unparalleled opportunities for restoration of
geomorphic processes and natural habitats. Although
this stretch of the river is severely compromised relative
to its historical condition, much of the degradation is
reversible. Farms (as opposed to cities) have replaced
floodplain forests, and levees, where present, are often
set back from the river by appreciable distances. In
some areas, bank revetment is absent and the natural
processes of bank erosion and point-bar deposition are
still intact. This meandering reach is very different
from the reaches upstream that are confined by resis-
tant geologic formations and the reaches downstream
that are completely confined by revetted levees. For
more through geomorphic descriptions of the Sacra-
mento River, see Buer and others (1989) and Singer
and Dunne (2001, 2004).
Increasing the Scale of Planning to Identify
Opportunities for Simultaneously Improving
Ecosystem Health and Societal Condition
Although restoring natural riverine processes is
most effectively achieved by planning at large scales
(Stanford and others 1996; Harper and others 1999),
the vast majority of river restoration projects are
planned and implemented on one small section of a
river at a time (Gore and Shields 1995). Such
piecemeal planning often leads to projects that are
both uncoordinated and ineffectual. In an effort to
avoid these pitfalls, we initiated studies that focused
on large geographic areas and that met some of the
central information needs of the agencies that were
developing management plans for river. In addition,
we looked for focal areas where we could advance
restoration through large-scale, on-the-ground pro-
jects, where we could offer technical information to
characterize project feasibility. One such focal area
was found near the town of Hamilton City, where we
worked with stakeholders to comprehensively assess a
suite of proposed actions aimed at improving man-
agement of the river over a 13-km reach (Figure 1).
Hamilton City (estimated population: 2,500) and
the adjoining agricultural lands have been threatened
by oodwaters of the Sacramento River several times
in the past decade. All that currently protects these
areas from ooding during high water events is an old
(circa 1904), degraded private levee (the ‘‘J’’ levee)
(Figure 1). The ‘‘J’’ levee was not constructed to meet
any formal engineering standards and is largely com-
posed of silty sand soils (US Army Corps of Engineers
2003). The USACE estimates that the ‘‘J’’ levee has
only a 66% probability of containing a 10-year flood,
and this probability assumes significant flood-fighting
activities. In fact, extensive flood fighting was neces-
sary and the town was evacuated in 1974, 1983, 1986,
1995, 1997, and 1998. Locals have attempted to per-
suade the USACE to repair and reengineer the levee,
but they have never been able to meet required cost/
benefit ratios. Despite this, locals initiated fund-rais-
ing efforts, including levee festivals (Bernardini 2002),
to generate the required local cost share match in
hopes that a future feasibility study would someday
produce a project design that would qualify for fed-
eral participation.
In 2000, a diverse group of stakeholders (including
farmers, conservationists, and citizens from the local
community) came together to form the Hamilton City
Working Group (hereafter the ‘‘Working Group’’).
The group recognized that a project to x the ‘‘J’’ le-
vee problem would only be supported if it offered
multiple benets and was the product of coordinated
planning. One of the Working GroupÕs main objectives
was to develop recommendations for restoration of the
Hamilton City area for the Army Corps of EngineerÕs
Comprehensive Study team (see Table 1).
Alternative solutions to the ‘‘J’’ levee problem had
the potential to affect the ecosystem of the Sacra-
mento River in profoundly different ways. We were
interested in exploring solutions that could recon-
nect oodplain lands owned by several conservation
groups with the natural processes of ooding, ero-
sion, and sediment deposition. A signicant ‘‘J’’
Assessing Societal Impacts of River Restoration 865
levee setback in the vicinity of Hamilton City could
help revitalize the Sacramento River ecosystem,
reduce ooding impacts on the local community,
and better protect agricultural lands from ooding,
thus creating a highly desirable, multiple-benet sit-
uation for Hamilton City, local agricultural interests,
and the conservation community.
Forming partnerships to design multiple-benet
projects is frequently referred to in concept, but
infrequently implemented on the ground. We view the
collaborative and science-based process of addressing
Hamilton CityÕs problem with the ‘‘J’’ levee as a model
for increasing the scope, scale, and effectiveness of
restoration on the Sacramento River.
Profiles of Component Studies for Hamilton
City and the Larger Project Area
We conducted ve studies to forecast societal im-
pacts of a set of potential river restoration activities.
Figure 1. Existing levees, riprap, and conservation land ownership patterns in the vicinity of Hamilton City on the Sacramento
River, California, USA. Inset map shows the Sacramento River Project area and the location of the Project area within California.
866 G. H. Golet and others
The studies focused on ood and erosion patterns,
socioeconomics, cultural resources, and public access
and recreation. Impacts of these types are important to
consider, as they inuence the extent to which natural
riverine processes and habitats might be restored while
maintaining the important societal benets that river
systems provide to local communities. In the following,
we present the rationale for, and major ndings of,
these studies. We also report how stakeholders reacted
to the information derived and the ways in which the
information was applied to ongoing planning efforts.
Most of the studies focused at the scale of the entire
Sacramento River Project area (161 river km); how-
ever, some were specic to the ‘‘J’’ levee focal area
(13 river km).
Hydraulic Modeling of Flood Impacts
Rationale. Landowners in the Hamilton City area,
many of whom are farmers, expressed concern
[through the Working Group and area newspapers
(Sutton 2001; Hacking 2003)] that habitat restoration
activities on neighboring conservation lands might
exacerbate problems of ooding on their properties.
These worries were shared by public agencies respon-
sible for maintaining travel corridors and associated
infrastructure (e.g., roads and bridges), as well as
important Sacramento River Flood Control Project
(FCP) features such as levees and weirs (US Army
Corps of Engineers 2002, 2003).
Methods. To address these questions, we contracted
with a consulting rm to calibrate and run a two-
dimensional hydraulic model (RMA-2V; US Army
Corps of Engineers 1997) for the Hamilton City area
(river km 312325). The model quantied the effects
that proposed land-use changes (replacement of
agricultural lands with native vegetation plantings),
altered levee alignments, and removal of small private
levees would have on oodwater surface elevation,
velocity, and ow patterns. As the output of the
modeling is dependent on both the accurate charac-
Figure 2. Two-dimensional hydraulic modeling output for Sacramento River water surface elevation differential derived by
comparing existing conditions to a scenario that includes a setback ‘‘J’’ levee and the removal of several small levees on the
USFWSÕs Pine Creek Unit. [Modified and reprinted from Ayres Associates (2002) with permission.]
Assessing Societal Impacts of River Restoration 867
terization of existing conditions and detailed fore-
casting of future conditions, we worked with the
consulting rm, researchers, agency representatives,
and stakeholder groups to derive appropriate input
parameters. Most importantly, local landowners ac-
tively participated in all meetings during the calibra-
tion exercise by supplying aerial photography and
personal observation records from a recent ood
event and by reviewing preliminary model output.
Because different types of riparian vegetation (e.g.,
forest, grassland) impede the passage of oodwaters to
varying degrees (Mount 1995), we needed to supply
the hydraulic modelers with a map depicting future
land-cover patterns at the restoration area. To generate
the map, we applied a simple model that relates plant
community types to physical site characteristics such as
soil stratigraphy and depth to groundwater (The Nat-
ure Conservancy 2003). We dened other input
parameters, including the alignment of the setback ‘‘J’’
levee and the removal of levees on the USFWS Pine
Creek Unit (Figure 2) by working with local stake-
holders and agency representatives.
Results. The analysis predicted that by setting back
the ‘‘J’’ levee, removing private levees on the RefugeÕs
Pine Creek Unit, and revegetating the landscape with
appropriate native communities, signicant improve-
ments can be made in both ood damage reduction
and ecosystem restoration. Hydraulic changes pre-
dicted to result from the proposed levee setback are
also expected to be benecial to human infrastructure
in the area. The model predicted a reduction in water
surface elevation both in the main river channel and
on the Highway 32 oodplain area (Figure 2). A
localized area of water surface elevations increase
(0.150.61 m) is predicted, but only for one parcel
(owned by TNC). Some changes in velocity are
expected due to changes in vegetation density; how-
ever, no significant increase in floodplain erosion is
expected. These results suggest that conservation
lands can be utilized as floodplain storage and con-
veyance areas, thereby reducing flood pressure on
neighboring private lands. Further results of the
hydraulic modeling are detailed in Ayres Associates
Reactions and Applications. Although controversial at
rst, the assessments of ood impacts were eventually
well received by stakeholders, especially after they saw
that their input and personal observations were directly
incorporated into the model. Essentially, we did not
nalize the calibration process until stakeholders were
satised that the model accurately predicted the ow
patterns they had witnessed during their years of
observation on the river. Stakeholder acceptance of the
modeling results was also bolstered by our willingness
to model the magnitudes of ooding in which they
most interested.
Information from both the hydraulic modeling
study and the geomorphic modeling study (discussed
later) was shared with the USACE and incorporated
into the Hamilton City Feasibility Study to help solve
the existing ooding problem (Table 1). In fact, the
Feasibility Study team selected a scenario for ‘‘J’’ levee
realignment within their final report (US Army Corps
of Engineers 2004) that closely approximates the
stakeholder-preferred alternative that was developed
and evaluated during the course of our studies (com-
pare setback levee alignments in Figures 2 and 3).
Importantly, this scenario will reconnect an estimated
731 ha of floodplain habitat to the river and restore
natural processes of flooding and sediment deposition
over a 13-km reach, in one of the largest levee setback
projects ever undertaken on the Sacramento River.
Geomorphic Modeling of Meander Migration
Rationale. Meandering rivers often have their banks
lined with rock revetment (riprap) to protect bridges,
levees, and other infrastructure from erosion (Mount
1995). In the Hamilton City area, >90% of the outer
bends of the river are lined. However, riprap is highly
detrimental to the ecological health of rivers (Na-
tional Research Council 2002), including the Sacra-
mento (DeHaven 2000). Riprap prevents active lateral
channel migration, or meandering, which is essential
in maintaining the structure of riparian landscapes
(Bravard and Gilvear 1996) and the proper function-
ing of river ecosystems (Malanson 1993). Yet, on
modern river systems it is often difcult to identify
locations where riprap can be removed to restore
ecosystem function without impacting human infra-
structure. Conservation lands might offer locations
where riprap can be removed. Before such decisions
are made, however, it is prudent to evaluate the ef-
fects that such actions will have on nearby erosion
Methods. To address the issue of riprap removal in
the context of the restoration of the Sacramento River,
we applied a meander migration model that predicts
migration patterns on alluvial rivers (Johannesson and
Parker 1989; Larsen 1995). The migration model is
based on physical algorithms for ow and sediment
uxtwo of the main driving forces of meander
migration. The model accommodates changes in input
parameters, such as ow regime or bank stabilization
measures, and unlike previous models, it effectively
integrates the effects of local morphology and up-
stream conditions (Larsen and Greco 2002).
868 G. H. Golet and others
More specically, we predicted migration patterns
that would result under several different riprap re-
moval scenarios in the vicinity of Hamilton City. We
modeled this reach of the river because we wanted to
explore the potential to remove riprap on conservation
lands in the vicinity of Hamilton City and needed to
determine whether this would endanger local infra-
structure, including the Gianella Bridge and several
overow structures of the FCP (Figure 3). The mod-
eling exercise forecasted meander patterns in three 25-
year time steps to simulate meander patterns 75 years
into the future.
Figure 3. Future predictions of channel location modeled based on a scenario of all riprap being removed. Other scenarios
(including a stakeholder preferred alternative) were also modeled. Depicted are the current and future (as determined by the
US Army Corps of Engineers) alignments of the ‘‘J’’ levee. The setback depicted would reconnect 731 ha of floodplain habitat
to the river and produce significant benefits in terms of flood damage reduction and ecosystem restoration. [Modified and
reprinted from Larsen and others (2002) with permission.]
Assessing Societal Impacts of River Restoration 869
As with the hydraulic modeling study, we worked
closely with stakeholders and agency partners to dene
appropriate locations for potential restoration actions.
Locations selected for riprap removal were based on
expert opinion of where revetment might be able to be
removed to permit erosion and limited meander
without causing harm to local infrastructure. Geo-
morphic modeling was then used to predict the out-
come of these removals.
Results. Our analysis suggested that the ood control
infrastructure is not likely to be damaged in the fore-
seeable future from the removal of riprap (Figure 3).
Specifically, partial removal of riprap in the Hamilton
City area is unlikely to lead to major changes in chan-
nel alignment over the next 75 years, nor is it expected
to impact either the Gianella Bridge or a setback ‘‘J’’
levee. Additional results are detailed in Larsen and
others (2002).
Reactions and Applications. The geomorphic model-
ing study did not receive the same amount of attention
as the hydraulic modeling study. This was likely due to
the fact that riprap removal did not end up being in-
cluded in the USACEÕs Hamilton City ‘‘J’’ levee setback
project plan. It was left out of the plan because its
inclusion caused an increase in the cost of the project
that was not offset by sufcient benet (as determined
by the USACE). Removal of bank protection on the
Sacramento River is a contentious issue that is cur-
rently being discussed in other forums.
In addition to hydraulic modeling, geomorphic
analyses are proving to be useful for addressing
stakeholder concerns and advancing river restoration
projects, as shown by our studies and those conducted
elsewhere. For example, in the Midwest, where farm-
ers were concerned that lateral migration of meander
bends would remove precious topsoil and threaten
elds, restorationists conducted a detailed geographic
information system (GIS)-based analysis of channel
change using historical aerial photography. The
analysis showed that past rates of lateral movement
toward adjacent farmland were negligible, as the
direction of meander bend movement was down-
stream along the riparian axis (Rhodes and others
1999). Although our approach of using a mathema-
tical migration model to investigate meander migra-
tion was more sophisticated, both approaches were
successful, in that they helped stakeholders visualize
likely future channel changes.
Socioeconomic Assessment
Rationale. Changes in land-use patterns associated
with habitat protection and restoration have the po-
tential to affect local and regional economies in com-
plex ways (Sutherland 2002), but these concerns are
rarely considered quantitatively. In reaction to TNC
and its partnerÕs efforts to restore agricultural lands
along the Sacramento River, agricultural advocacy
groups worried that there would be losses of revenues
to the local taxing agencies and the local economy with
the conversion of land from agriculture to habitat
(Sutton 2001; Hacking 2003). To address these con-
cerns, we initiated a socioeconomic assessment to
quantify potential third-party impacts (both positive
and negative) to counties, landowners, and the general
public that might result from acquiring and restoring
lands in the Project area.
Methods. The socioeconomic assessment evaluated
impacts on all four counties (1.8 million total hectares)
that border the Project area. It built upon two previous
studies of similar focus that were limited to Butte
County (Adams and Gallo 1999, 2001). Prior to con-
ducting the technical analyses, a future condition sce-
nario was dened based on habitat restoration goals
dened by a series of meetings with stakeholders. The
scenario assumed that riparian vegetation would ex-
pand by 45% (to 12,140 ha) over a 30-year period, so
that, in total, 71% of the area along the river would be
in riparian habitat. The remainder (29%) was assumed
to remain in agriculture or other uses. Of the land to
be converted to riparian habitat, 48% was already in
conservation ownership, and the remainder was pri-
vately owned agricultural land that would be purchased
from willing sellers.
The analysis estimated changes in regional eco-
nomic activity and scal conditions and changes in
resource costs and benets. These effects were esti-
mated by analyzing changes in spending for agricul-
ture, recreation, and habitat restoration using
IMPLAN, a regional economic software model that
describes ows from producers to intermediate and
nal consumers using a series of economic multipliers
(Rickman and Schwer 1993; Miller and Blair 1985).
The scal study modeled how restoration would
change revenue ows to the counties, estimating
changes in property tax revenues, federal revenue
sharing payments, state in-lieu payments, and
Williamson Act subvention payments.
Results. Overall, the socioeconomic assessment
suggested that adverse impacts of the modeled acqui-
sition and restoration program would be relatively
minor and localized. It was also noted that it should be
possible to partially offset these impacts through state
and federal in-lieu payments and by further developing
sustainable recreational opportunities. Results of the
assessment are summarized below in terms of effects
on agricultural resources, recreation spending, site
870 G. H. Golet and others
monitoring, the regional economy, and county reve-
nues (scal effects). Percentage changes are reported
relative to the year 2000.
Agricultural Resources Effects: The principal effect of
establishing a riparian corridor along the river
would be a reduction in agricultural production and
associated reductions in farmer income and agri-
cultural jobs. The economic losses to the agricul-
tural sector would increase gradually as land is taken
out of production over a 30-year period, such that by
2030, annual losses could be as much as $11.5 mil-
lion. Although this is a substantial amount, it is rel-
atively small (1%) when taken in the context of the
combined annual value of agricultural production
in the four-county economy.
Recreation Spending Effects: The increase in riparian
habitats along the river would improve conditions for
fish and wildlife and cause increases in recreation-
related spending. With a doubling of anadromous
fish populations by the end of the 30-year period (a
CALFED goal), recreation-related spending would
increase by $948,400 annually in the four-county area.
Additional significant revenue increases would likely
occur from other recreational activities (e.g., wildlife
observation, hunting), but these were not predicted
because of a lack of available data to quantify these
Site-Monitoring Effects: During the 30-year time frame, a
riparian adaptive management research and moni-
toring program would be in place. The program
would assess vegetation and wildlife populations to
monitor the status of targets of restoration efforts.
The program would stimulate local spending for sal-
aries and equipment estimated at $187,800 annually.
Regional Economic Effects: The changes in agricul-
tural production anticipated by 2030 would have
direct, indirect, and induced effects on the econ-
omy. The total losses are estimated to be 228 jobs
and $7.5 million in personal income. The loss in
jobs represents less than 0.15% of the four-county
total employment base, and the reduction in per-
sonal income is 0.09% of the four county average.
Fiscal Effects: The analysis suggested that there would
be minimal impacts on county revenues relative to
nonrestoration conditions. Three counties would
experience a minor decrease (<1%) in revenues as
property taxes are replaced by in-lieu payments from
the state and revenue sharing from the federal
government, and the remaining is expected to see a
minor increase. Additional results from the socio-
economic assessment are presented in Jones and
Stokes (2003).
Reactions and Applications. Although widely recog-
nized as generating much useful information, the
socioeconomic study was met with criticism from
both the conservation community and opponents of
conservation. A common criticism was that the study
was decient in quantifying the full range of
economic outcomes expected to result from the
modeled land-use changes. Additional outcomes
(e.g., economic returns from increased ecosystem
services) could have been estimated; however, doing
so would have increased the uncertainty of the re-
sults, as quantitative relationships for effects not in-
cluded in the study are ill-dened (Jones and Stokes
2003). In retrospect, more attention could have been
given in stakeholder meetings to discussing the
advantages and disadvantages of including additional
elements in the analysis. Doing so would have en-
abled stakeholders to better dene what they wanted
from the study in terms of how it balanced uncer-
tainty and comprehensiveness.
Although assessments of socioeconomic impacts are
typically not as comprehensive as is desired, they might
be useful in identifying strategies that can effectively
minimize costs and maximize benets associated with
changing land management practices. For example,
this study demonstrated that there is great potential to
offset the relatively small (when viewed on a county-
wide basis) agricultural production losses that are ex-
pected to occur as a result of land use changes by
promoting recreation-related spending (Jones and
Stokes 2003). One strategy to accomplish this is to ex-
pand public access and recreation-related facilities
along the river (EDAW 2003). A similar result was
found in an economic analysis of the Colorado River,
where local, state, and federal agencies were seen as
having great potential to improve the local recreation-
based economy by increasing access to riparian corri-
dors and updating and expanding existing recreational
facilities and infrastructure (Bayley 1995).
Public Recreation Access Study
Rationale. Recreational opportunities are consis-
tently identied as one of the most important param-
eters in dening quality of life for Americans (Cordell
and others 1999). Yet, prior to our conducting this
study, there was no centralized location to obtain
public access and recreation information for the Sac-
ramento River. Stakeholders were unsatised with the
situation and felt it was being made worse by conser-
vation entities, such as TNC, that were purchasing
private agricultural land (often with public funds) and
keeping it closed to the public (Ellena 2000). We thus
Assessing Societal Impacts of River Restoration 871
conducted a study to characterize current public access
and recreation use patterns along the river and to
identify opportunities for improvements.
Methods. The study focused on the entire Project area
and was coordinated with USFWS, DFG, and other
public and private land management entities. In addi-
tion to characterizing existing public access opportuni-
ties and needs, the study identied how changes in land
management patterns were expected to inuence pub-
lic recreation and access opportunities in the context of
ongoing management planning efforts (Table 1).
Information was gathered from available demographic
data, previous and ongoing recreation and access stud-
ies (listed in EDAW 2003), site visits, interviews with land
and facility managers, selected interest group repre-
sentatives, and public scoping meetings.
Results. Our study conrmed that many of the sites
in conservation ownership were closed to the public
(e.g., those that are actively being restored or that are
part of the Refuge). However, this has changed, as the
USFWS has recently nalized itÕs management plan
(Table 1), which identifies a broad range of permissi-
ble recreational activities and permits access to 79% of
Refuge lands (USFWS personal communication). In-
creased opportunities for recreation have been wel-
comed along the river. Regional trends indicate a
continued interest in the traditional recreational
activities of boating, fishing and hunting, and suggest
that nonconsumptive recreational pursuits such as bird
watching, nature observation, and hiking will increase
by 65% over the next 40 years (California Department
of Water Resources 1982; California Department of
Parks and Recreation 1998; Cordell and others 1999).
Additional results of the public recreation access study
are detailed in EDAW (2003).
Reactions and Applications. This study was received
well by all stakeholders, although many saw the effort
as long overdue. The study made a number of general
and specic recommendations for improving public
access and recreational opportunities and their asso-
ciated management and infrastructure in the Project
area (see Appendix A). These recommendations have
been instrumental in developing management plans
for those public agencies that manage lands along the
river (Table 1). Importantly, however, the study also
confirmed that public knowledge of existing recreation
opportunities along the river was limited by a lack of
readily accessible, centrally located information. To
improve the situation, DWR recently partnered with
the Geographic Information Center at California State
University, Chico to produce a popular new website
dedicated to this very purpose (http://www.sacramen-
As awareness of the Sacramento River corridor has
grown, the river has become an increasingly popular
recreation destination. Continued conservation and
restoration along the river will likely draw even more
people to this area, as Californians indicate that natu-
ral areas are highly sought after as recreational settings
(California Department of Parks and Recreation 1998).
Moreover, as the population in the region grows, de-
mand for public recreational opportunities are
expected to increase (Cordell and others 1999).
Continuing with and building upon efforts to increase
compatible public recreation opportunities along the
Sacramento River is important to achieve successful,
community-supported restoration of the dynamic river
ecosystem as well as beneting the regionÕs economic
and social well-being. Increases in recreational activi-
ties such as wildlife viewing, hunting, and shing often
translate to increases in support for conservation ac-
tions (Theodori and others 1998).
Cultural Resource Study
Rationale. Archaeological sites, with their historic,
cultural, and educational value, should be protected
from land management activities that can lead to their
degradation. Because rivers and oodplains are typi-
cally rich in natural resources (e.g., sh and game),
they often harbor signicant archaeological sites. It is
understandable therefore that signicant legal man-
dates exist to ensure that care is taken when planning
management activities (including restoration) on
oodplain lands (King 1998; King 2000). To fulll
such a mandate for a close agency partner (USFWS),
we conducted a comprehensive archaeological over-
view of the entire Project area.
Methods. We synthesized all available information
for the entire Project area, surveyed and mapped
archaeological sites on 4654 ha of the Refuge, and
established the signicance of all known sites. Signi-
cance was determined by evaluating individual re-
sources present at a site relative to the nature, extent,
and distribution of archaeological resources at other
sites across the region. Assessments of signicance are
needed to determine whether or not sites are placed
on the National Register of Historic Places of the Na-
tional Historic Preservation Act (King 2000). We also
provided administration and coordination recom-
mendations for management activities that have the
potential to affect cultural resources. Activities
included in the cultural resource study are further
detailed in Appendix B.
Results. The results of this and previous studies
(listed in White 2003) demonstrate that the Project
area hosts a number of signicant archaeological
872 G. H. Golet and others
sites with high research potential. Our study identi-
ed 51 previously conducted cultural resource sur-
veys that collectively documented 104 archaeological
sites. In addition, our study established 46 new sites.
The majority of documented sites are concentrated
in close proximity to the Sacramento River and along
the banks of the major tributaries in the region.
Throughout the span of cultural use, occupation
sites probably clustered along areas of high elevation
on the oodplain. This and previous surveys suggest
that archaeological resources are more likely to be
found on sites that have oodplain soils than those
that have basin soils.
Importantly, three archaeological sites in the Pro-
ject area are considered eligible for the National Reg-
ister of Historic Places in that they ‘‘have yielded or
may be likely to yield, information important in pre-
history or history’’ (Criterion [d], Federal Register, Vol.
65, No. 239, pp: 77,72877,729). These sites are
important for a variety of reasons, including the
potential they have to provide valuable information on
changing environmental conditions that prehistoric
populations faced. Such changes could be documented
through analysis of food resource remains and by
conducting plant macrofossil and zooarchaeological
studies (Brown 2002).
Reactions and Applications. Reactions to the cultural
resources study by stakeholders were uniformly posi-
tive. The study ndings did not result in new restric-
tions placed on private landowners, and those
management entities that need to consider impacts to
cultural resources before proceeding with manage-
ment operations now have the information they need
to guide management actions. In fact, information
gathered in the cultural resources study was directly
incorporated into the USFWSÕs Comprehensive Con-
servation Plan for the Refuge (Table 1) to assist the
USFWS in meeting cultural resource inventory man-
dates as specified in Sections 106 and 110 of the Na-
tional Historic Preservation Act (King 2000). The study
was also used to inform the USACE Hamilton City
Feasibility Study (Table 1).
Any efforts to develop facilities for recreation or
other human uses should be considered in the context
of the impacts that they might have to important cul-
tural resources (King 1998; Balsom 1999; King 2000).
Restoration activities should also be viewed in this
context. On the Sacramento River, restoration activities
now include recontouring natural distributary chan-
nels, an activity that has obvious potential to impact
cultural resource sites. Only by making detailed
assessments of archaeological resources can adverse
impacts to archaeological sites be avoided.
River management issues have always been highly
contentious in California (Kelly 1989; Mount 1995),
and as human populations continue to grow, we can
expect them to become even more so in the future
(Gleick 1998; Baron and others 2002). Water and
oodplain management decisions face intense scru-
tiny, such that typically only those restoration projects
that provide demonstrable benets to society, as well as
the ecosystem, are supported. Our effort to develop a
restoration project that offered benets to both the
ecosystem and society was advanced by a series of
studies that predicted the outcomes of proposed res-
toration actions. The particular topics we studied
(ooding, meander migration, socioeconomics, public
recreation and access, and cultural resources) repre-
sent typical issues of concern to stakeholders involved
in restoration projects on large alluvial rivers where
restoration involves shifting land-use patterns. Our
experiences have shown that successful river restora-
tion requires getting the technical detail ‘‘right’’;
however, just as important is communication of the
science and transparency. Perhaps even more impor-
tant is inclusiveness and stakeholder involvement.
Using Science to Achieve Multiple Benefits in River
Restoration Projects
The Sacramento River Hamilton City ‘‘J’’ levee
project provides a good example of what it takes to
advance a large-scale river restoration project for a
lowland alluvial river in the face of stakeholder oppo-
sition. Ultimately, what allowed this project to move
forward, when others have not, is the fact that it is
virtually certain to provide increased ood protection
to a local community that currently faces high ood
risks. Without a direct and easy-to-understand tie to
improving human conditions, groups that are opposed
on principle to replacing agricultural lands with habi-
tat are often successful in eroding local support for
projects to the point that restoration funding programs
are unwilling to allocate funds for implementation.
Restorationists, therefore, need to look for opportuni-
ties for ecosystem revitalization that can go hand in
hand with projects that have as a central goal the bet-
terment of some aspect of societal condition.
The results of our studies conducted on the Sacra-
mento River support an emerging paradigm shift in
river management. Increasingly, on lowland alluvial
rivers where agriculture has encroached on oodplain
habitats, managers are recognizing, and researchers
are documenting, that providing rivers with greater
connections to their historical oodplains can simul-
Assessing Societal Impacts of River Restoration 873
taneously revitalize impaired ecosystems and improve
ood damage protection (Nienhuis and Leuven 2001;
Larsen and Greco 2002). Hydrodynamic models, such
as those used in this study, are being used to identify
such opportunities.
In the Central Valley, this paradigm shift is supported
by an increased awareness of the potential that rivers
have to damage oodplain infrastructure. In 1997,
ooding associated with a winter storm killed 6 people
and drove 120,000 Central Valley citizens from their
homes (Leavenworth 2004a), and future catastrophic
ood impacts are possible (California Department of
Water Resources 2005). In recognition of this, ood
management discussions between the US Army Corps of
Engineers and the US Fish and Wildlife Service have
begun, with the goal of developing projects that can
meet the dual challenges of improving ood control and
reviving ecological health. These projects are focusing
less on riprap and channelization as river management
tools, and more on setting back levees and restoring
habitat (Leavenworth 2004b), similar to what is planned
for the Sacramento River near Hamilton City.
A similar willingness to reconsider river management
strategies is evident elsewhere. Following two large ood
events when huge impacts were narrowly averted
(250,000 people were evacuated in 1993 and 1995) on
the Rhine and Meuse rivers in western Europe, multi-
national discussions ensued to develop alternative river
management strategies (Nienhuis and Leuven 2001).
Resulting projects included setting levees back on
channelized sections of the Rhine to retain oodwaters
in upstream oodplain storage areas and to retard river
discharge, imitating the historical situation as much as
possible (Nienhuis and Leuven 2001).
Restoration projects on the Sacramento River might
also offer benets to society in the form of increased
recreational opportunities and associated economic
inputs. However, expectations of positive change along
these lines have done less to earn stakeholder support
than have expectations of gains in ood protection. In
part, this might be because there is less of an assurance
that the economic benets of recreation will come, as
projects sold to communities on economic grounds
have not always provided the anticipated benets (e.g.,
damming the Feather River to form Lake Oroville;
Gascoyne 2001). Nonetheless, as different outcomes
will resonate with different stakeholders, we suggest
analyzing and communicating restoration benets in
the most comprehensive manner possible.
Future Research Needs
Several steps could be taken to improve the quality of
the information derived from these studies. As with all
modeling, the accuracy with which input parameters are
dened limits the quality of the information that the
models produce. Hydraulic modeling studies could
more accurately forecast anticipated changes in ood
patterns with better denition of natural vegetation
communities occurring on the landscape and with more
accurate oodplain roughness coefcients for each
vegetation type. Similarly, geomorphic modeling could
be improved by applying ner-scale mapping of land-
use coverages, as oodplain lands that are managed
differently (e.g., as orchards vs. natural habitat) have
signicantly different rates of erosion (Micheli and
others 2003). Geomorphic modeling could also be im-
proved by developing the capability to address the ef-
fects of a variable hydrograph on meander migration
patterns, as current modeling approaches (Larsen 1995;
Imran and others 1999; Larsen and others 2002) predict
meander migration by assuming constant rates of ow.
Better quantication needs to be made of how res-
toration affects recreational activity and ood damage
expenditures to improve existing socioecomic models.
Additional studies could be conducted to better de-
scribe the economic value citizens derive from pro-
tecting, restoring, and maintaining wildlife habitats
(Jones and Stokes 2003), as well as the wider range of
ecosystem services that healthy rivers provide to society
(Daily 1997; Wilson and Carpenter 1999). To aid in
offsetting any adverse economic impacts of lost farm
revenues, updated, comprehensive surveys of recrea-
tionists should be conducted. These would increase our
understanding of the importance of existing and po-
tential future recreational opportunities to the local
communities, and help in the formation of develop-
ment strategies (EDAW 2003).
Incorporating Stakeholders in Restoration Planning
Data analysis and model building are important
activities for restorationists seeking to identify and ad-
vance multiple-benet river restoration projects. How-
ever, because watershed management is largely a social
process (Rhoads and others 1999), it is imperative that
restorationists also dedicate themselves to interacting
with stakeholders. Although a multitude of stakeholder
groups (e.g., local, state, and federal government agen-
cies and nongovernmental organizations) might need to
be coordinated when planning river restoration, special
attention should be paid to working with local citizen
stakeholders who live and work in the communities that
will be affected by project activities. Fostering productive
partnerships with locals might be time-consuming and
challenging; however, much can be gained by doing so.
Such partnerships force restorationists to focus on
874 G. H. Golet and others
community values in addition to science and technical
analyses, which behavioral research has shown can lead
to better decision-making (Gregory and others 1993).
Also, local support is often required before funds are
awarded to restoration projects.
Restorationists might experience a certain level of
mistrust in the early stages of the stakeholder engage-
ment process. Citizens who are strong supporters of
private property rights can be hostile to outside inter-
vention on land management issues (Reading and
others 1994) and often discount or ignore scientic
information if they perceive the bearer of this infor-
mation as an untrustworthy outsider (Rhoads and
others 1999). For these reasons, we recommend that
restorationists integrate with the place-based social
worlds of local communities. In a practical sense, this
points to the need to strike a balance between directing
efforts to advancing scientic studies and interacting
more with stakeholders. Although both are important,
ultimately it might be more the acts of engagement
than the information produced from the studies that
leads groups opposed to conservation activities to
reconsider their viewpoints.
In the case of the Sacramento River, we found that
including stakeholder input in the early phases of the
project development was extremely benecial. It al-
lowed stakeholders to develop a sense of ownership of
the process [as was also noted by Shindler and Cheek
(1999)] and permitted exibility in study design and
focus. Directly involving stakeholders early in the
planning stages both demystied the planning process
and increased trust. Although partnering with citizen
stakeholders increased uncertainty, time, and cost
spent on the project at the initial stages, doing so in an
effective manner and early on was essential to moving
the project forward.
The key to developing a restoration project that was
well received by locals was a lengthy process of directly
engaging stakeholders in the formation of technical
studies and the evaluation of results. Although a will-
ingness to accept stakeholder input will not guarantee
project support, it will help develop trust, a pre-
requisite to establishing effective partnerships. For
example, we saw a local landownerÕs appreciation of
the hydraulic modeling results increase when he ob-
served that his ood photos were incorporated into the
analyses. Simple acts of inclusion such as this can help
foster a sense of trust and a belief that the planning
process is fair, which helps promote conservation
(Sullivan and others 1996; Peterson and Horton 1995).
Stakeholder involvement should not be a coercive
process in which particular values are intrinsically
privileged relative to others (Rhoads and others 1999).
True collaborations with shared power are needed, as
they rightfully confer some sense of control over the
decision-making process to stakeholders (Brook and
others 2003; Wondolleck and Yaffee 2000). In the
Hamilton City project, local citizen stakeholders exer-
cised control over the project in numerous ways,
including selecting the magnitude of the ood events
to be modeled in the hydraulic analysis, choosing the
sites to be modeled for riprap removal, and, perhaps
most signicantly, recommending alternative align-
ments for a setback ‘‘J’’ levee.
Being involved in the scenario creation process al-
lowed stakeholders to test future conditions that rep-
resented their values in a scientic risk assessment
process. In so doing, it helped generate a sense of
shared ownership in the products of the studies. As
noted by others (Keeney 1992; Failing and others
2004), what is ultimately deemed as acceptable by
stakeholders is strongly inuenced by their under-
standing of the nature of the alternatives. It follows
then that much can be gained by allowing stakeholders
to dene alternative future states that are the subject of
analyses, as was recently demonstrated in planning ef-
forts focusing on the Willamette River (Baker and
others 2004). Our experiences conrm that the
requirement to go through a stakeholder process
should not preclude conducting analyses at the level of
sophistication warranted by the problem (Failing and
others 2004). In fact, we found that having stakehold-
ers help guide rigorous studies was an effective way to
shift the focus of discussions from the positions of
individual participants to the alternative restoration
Having local stakeholders become advocates for
conservation can be extremely benecial, as we found
when local community members stepped forth at key
times as spokespersons. In our project, a local land-
owner even traveled across the country to speak to US
Congress and Senate staff to help build broad-based
partisan support for the project. Although such a high
level of commitment might not be possible for all
projects, it is worth noting that individual citizens can
do much to advance conservation when they act as
representatives of their communities.
We are grateful to the CALFED Bay-Delta Program
and the US Fish and Wildlife Service for funding the
studies proled in this article. We thank the Wildlife
Conservation Board, the California Department of Fish
and Game, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the
various stakeholder groups that worked with us to help
Assessing Societal Impacts of River Restoration 875
dene and implement these studies. We thank private
individuals who made donations to The Nature Con-
servancy, as their contributions supported the writing
of this manuscript. We acknowledge Sam Lawson and
Dawit Zeleke for their support and skillful leadership
of the Sacramento River Project. We thank Marlyce
Myers for strategic advice on planning and for man-
aging the socioeconomic study, David Jukkola and Seth
Paine for making gures, Amy Hoss for assistance with
outreach, and Wendie Duron, Cori Ong and Jan
Karolyi for administrative assistance. This aricle was
improved thanks to insightful comments from Virginia
Dale, Mary Gleason, Karen Holl, Peter Kareiva, Rich
Reiner, Stacey Solie, Andy Warner, and especially Bill
Parris, a local stakeholder who helped us present a
balanced perspective.
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Appendix A
General and Specic Recommendations for
Improving Public Access and Recreational Opportuni-
ties, Management, and Infrastructure in the Sacra-
mento River Project Area, California.
General Recommendations
Improve the condition of boat ramps and other
access points
Provide more outreach, including brochures, kiosks,
and visitor center(s)
Provide maps and signage to assist in finding river
For further details, see EDAW (2003)
878 G. H. Golet and others
access and services and to reduce trespassing
Increase the number of facilities and amenities such
as trails, picnicking, and camping facilities, especially
in the southern portion of the study area
Minimize conflicts between different recreational
uses (e.g., hunting vs. hiking)
Increase coordination and resource sharing among
management entities, local landowners, and other
Specific Recommendations
Establish a ‘‘Pine Creek Preserve’’ near the ‘‘J’’ levee
setback area with a public nature center and a
dynamic river research center: Over 1538 ha of
conservation land is currently held by government
agencies and nonprofit organizations in the Pine
Creek/Hamilton City area (see Figure 1). Included
in this area is a complex matrix of habitat types,
including riparian forest, grassland, and riverine
wetland habitat, as well as a set of current and future
horticultural restoration sites. The area offers tre-
mendous research potential, as well as great oppor-
tunities for high-quality wildlife-compatible
recreational experiences. A concept plan and figure
representing a hypothetical ‘‘Pine Creek Preserve’’ is
provided in EDAW (2003).
Establish facilities to support multiday boating trips
on the river: No comprehensive assessment has been
made of the recreational facility and access needs of
boaters (e.g., kayakers, canoeists) wishing to take
multiday trips down the river. Completing such an
assessment and filling unmet needs should be a
priority, as it would greatly enhance recreational
experiences available on the river.
Improve public information outreach: The Sacra-
mento River Conservation Area Forum is encour-
aged to spearhead an effort to widely communicate
information on recreation access opportunities to
the public. The effort could include development of
a river signage program, updated maps and guides,
and a public recreation access website (http://
Establish a formalized management coordination
committee: The private, local, state, and federal
landowner groups and agencies that manage land
with public access opportunities should share
resources and expertise and develop strategies to
address a variety of issues (e.g., coordination of
maintenance and law enforcement activities, devel-
opment of a shared GIS database).
Appendix B
Components of the Cultural Resources Study of
Floodplain Lands of the Sacramento River Project
Area, California.
1. Overview of the paleoenvironment, prehistory,
Native American cultures, history of contact, and
postcontact change in the study area
2. Review of documents included in the California
Historical Resources Information System housed at
the California Office of Historic Preservation
3. Archaeological survey of selected Units of the Sac-
ramento River National Wildlife Refuge (con-
ducted to assist USFWS in meeting cultural
resource inventory mandates as specified in Sec-
tions 106 and 110 of the National Historic Preser-
vation Act)
4. Characterization of previously identified and newly
discovered cultural resources within the Project
area. Includes information on resource location,
age, composition, function, cultural affiliation,
status, integrity, eligibility for the National Register
of Historic Places (NRHP), management concerns,
and opportunities for immediate or long-term
5. Review of curation facilities required to further
identify and evaluate cultural materials collected
from the project area, including ethnographic,
historical, and archaeological items
6. Development of research priorities for the study
area; includes identification of pertinent historical,
prehistoric and geoarchaeological research
themes, and their relevance to specific cultural re-
sources in the project area
7. Summary management plan including recommen-
dations for future investigations, public interpre-
tation of archaeological and paleoenvironmental
findings, and administration and coordination for
future actions which may affect cultural resources
For further details, see White (2003).
Assessing Societal Impacts of River Restoration
... Understanding the needs of the public around a riverine ecological restoration is vital to its success, and human dimensions work helps to find, address, and include information or stakeholders that can propel a restoration to success (Egan et al., 2011;Golet et al., 2006). ...
The United States is approaching a critical juncture regarding aging dam infrastructure. One increasingly common decision has been to remove dams, recreating a free-flowing river. The attention of the literature on ecological restoration is shifting from an ecological focus towards the importance of participation and the social dimensions of restorations. Social situations surrounding a dam removal can lead to expedited success, delays, or abandoned efforts. This study seeks to connect selected social dimensions of dam removals with the broader literature of ecological restoration by exploring social dimensions expressed in public participation in a dam removal process. A directed content analysis, qualitative research design, was employed to study selected social dimensions of dam removals. A codebook was developed to explore six social dimensions within public comment letters surrounding the removal of two dams on the Elwha River in Washington. The findings of this study revealed those with positive restoration attitude framed dam removal around potential ecological, economic, and social gains and more frequently referenced social dimensions of environmental attitude, place attachment, connectedness to nature, and sense of community. While participants with negative restoration attitude framed the dam removals around possible losses centered more of their testimonies around the economic situation surrounding dam removals. These findings emphasize the importance of framing, public participation, and future work regarding social dimensions of dam removal. As this restoration method becomes commonplace, environmental managers need to be able to effectively engage the public and understand not only ecological dimensions, but also social dimensions of dam removals. Advisor: Mark E. Burbach
... For small mammals, flood events are dangerous because significant reduction in their numbers during flooding can detract from the genetic diversity of the species (Golet et al., 2006;Zhang et al., 2007;Balčiauskas et al., 2012;Darinot et al., 2021). At such sites, populations recover in numbers relatively quickly, within only a few months (Balčiauskas et al., 2012;Golet et al., 2013), but only from the limited number of individuals that survived the adverse situation (a bottleneck). ...
Loss of connectivity between habitat patches is particularly important for small, environmentally specialized species with short migratory capacity. Taking the root vole as an example, we studied whether variation in the landscape (its geomorphological evolution) may affect the genetic differentiation exhibited by a wetland species, and thus the resilience of its population. We did so by testing the genetic differentiation at 9 sites located in two areas in the peripheral zone of the root vole’s range limit in Poland (the Sandomierz Basin and Western Polesie), and confronted the results with the differing origins and geomorphological characteristics of the hydrogenic environments in those two areas. Based on the analyses of 12 microsatellite loci (N = 118) and the 908 bp of cytochrome b sequences (N = 107), higher genetic variability was found in individuals from Western Polesie than from the Sandomierz Basin. Geomorphological analysis conducted with the use of DTM, satellite images, geological maps and cartographic fieldwork showed that the habitats optimal for the root vole are configured differently in the two areas considered, occurring mainly in river valleys and in isolated wetlands of lake-land plains, respectively. Simultaneous analysis of both the spatial configuration and connectivity of habitats, and the voles’ evolutionary directions and genetic parameters, supports the conclusion that the linear character of highly fragmented riverine habitats, additionally inundated during episodic flooding, is less favorable for the gene dispersal of small mammals than extensive marshy wetlands, even despite locally occurring barriers. These findings indicate that the genesis and geomorphological evolution of the landscape may influence the ecological changes taking place there, including habitat reduction and fragmentation. They may therefore be important for the persistence/resilience of particular species and therefore should be taken into account in conservation management of hydrogenic habitat areas, especially those close to the range limit of species with demanding habitat requirements.
... California's Mediterranean climate is highly variable with periods of both extreme droughts and floods [52,53]. The Sacramento River (Fig 1) is California's largest river and has been heavily modified for flood control, water conveyance, and human use [54]. The lower 245 km of the Sacramento River are channelized and leveed, effectively reducing the amount of natural floodplain [47]. ...
Full-text available
Floodplains represent critical nursery habitats for a variety of fish species due to their highly productive food webs, yet few tools exist to quantify the extent to which these habitats contribute to ecosystem-level production. Here we conducted a large-scale field experiment to characterize differences in food web composition and stable isotopes (δ¹³C, δ¹⁵N, δ³⁴S) for salmon rearing on a large floodplain and adjacent river in the Central Valley, California, USA. The study covered variable hydrologic conditions including flooding (1999, 2017), average (2016), and drought (2012–2015). In addition, we determined incorporation rates and tissue fractionation between prey and muscle from fish held in enclosed locations (experimental fields, cages) at weekly intervals. Finally, we measured δ³⁴S in otoliths to test if these archival biominerals could be used to reconstruct floodplain use. Floodplain-reared salmon had a different diet composition and lower δ ¹³ C and δ³⁴S (δ¹³C = -33.02±2.66‰, δ³⁴S = -3.47±2.28‰; mean±1SD) compared to fish in the adjacent river (δ¹³C = -28.37±1.84‰, δ³⁴S = +2.23±2.25‰). These isotopic differences between habitats persisted across years of extreme droughts and floods. Despite the different diet composition, δ¹⁵N values from prey items on the floodplain (δ¹⁵N = 7.19±1.22‰) and river (δ¹⁵N = 7.25±1.46‰) were similar, suggesting similar trophic levels. The food web differences in δ ¹³ C and δ³⁴S between habitats were also reflected in salmon muscle tissue, reaching equilibrium between 24–30 days (2014, δ¹³C = -30.74±0.73‰, δ³⁴S = -4.6±0.68‰; 2016, δ¹³C = -34.74 ±0.49‰, δ³⁴S = -5.18±0.46‰). δ³⁴S measured in sequential growth bands in otoliths recorded a weekly time-series of shifting diet inputs, with the outermost layers recording time spent on the floodplain (δ³⁴S = -5.60±0.16‰) and river (δ³⁴S = 3.73±0.98‰). Our results suggest that δ¹³C and δ³⁴S can be used to differentiate floodplain and river rearing habitats used by native fishes, such as Chinook Salmon, across different hydrologic conditions and tissues. Together these stable isotope analyses provide a toolset to quantify the role of floodplains as fish habitats.
... The project also included naturalization of geomorphic features in the channels, improvement of riparian forests, removing human pressures from the river banks, and a public education campaign on the benefits of natural floodplain functioning and habitat improvements. Many others such "levee-setback" projects have occurred in Europe and North America (Buijse et al., 2005), such as along the Rhine River in Germany and France (Serra-Llobet et al., 2018), the Elbe River in Germany (Warner & Damm, 2019), the Bear and Feather Rivers in California (Philip Williams and Associates, 2005), and the Sacramento River in California (Golet et al., 2006). ...
While levees are typically the focus of attention during floods, and higher levees are commonly demanded by the public for flood protection, levees alone cannot manage floods. Flood diversions take water from a flooding river to reduce stage in the main river, diverting excess flow to another location, often providing important ecological functions. Flood diversions are critically important complements to levees in managing floods on the Mississippi and Sacramento rivers, and elsewhere, with early examples going back 3000 years. Diversions range widely in design and function, so we propose a typology: flood bypasses, reconnected floodplains, compound channels, backwaters, distributaries, and inter‐basin transfers. Flood bypasses route floodwaters around critical reaches, rejoining the river downstream; they can be tunnels and hard‐engineered channels or wide areas of floodplain designated to convey flood flows, along a continuum of increasing residence time, greater potential for ecological benefit, but also greater land requirements. Managing the flow split (bifurcation) at the start of the flow diversion can be tricky. The flow split will depend on the angle and elevation difference between main channel and diversion, and can be affected by land subsidence, deposition of sediment, and accumulation of debris in either channel or control structures. One of the greatest challenges is keeping flow paths in the diversion free of development incompatible with inundation, but as these are often private lands and local governments are reluctant to withhold building permits, it has proved difficult to prevent such development, especially when the diversion is active only rarely. This article is categorized under: Engineering Water > Sustainable Engineering of Water Water and Life > Conservation, Management, and Awareness Science of Water > Water Extremes Diversions and bypasses have long been important technologies to manage floods and their role in managing floods and providing ecological habitat will likely expand in the future. Diversions range widely in design and function, so we propose a typology: flood bypasses, reconnected floodplains, compound channels, backwaters, distributaries, and inter‐basin transfers.
... It will be most cost effective to use highly productive lands for agriculture and plan ecologically sensitive and/or marginally productive lands that were previously occupied by native forests for tree planting or natural forest regrowth (Doelman et al., 2020;Latawiec, Strassburg, Brancalion, Rodrigues, & Gardner, 2015). For example, riparian forest restoration along the Sacramento River, the largest river in California, focuses on restoring the most flood-prone lands where fruit and nut orchard production is less profitable due to frequent losses to flooding (Golet et al., 2006). ...
A growing number of initiatives at global, regional and national scales propose to plant millions, billions or even trillions of trees as a simple solution to resolve complex environmental problems. However, tree planting is much more complicated than it seems. We summarize the multifaceted decision-making process needed and offer guidelines to increase the success of the proposed ambitious efforts to increase tree cover world-wide. Given the varied definitions of and motivations for tree planting, it is critical that stakeholders work together to clearly define the biophysical and socioeconomic goals of each project. Then a series of questions must be addressed about where and how (e.g. planting trees vs. allowing for natural forest regrowth) to most effectively achieve these goals and minimize unintended negative consequences, as well as how, when and by whom success of efforts will be evaluated. Key guidelines to successfully increase tree cover include: (a) first addressing the underlying drivers of deforestation; (b) integrating decision-making across scales from local to global; (c) tailoring tree planting strategies to clearly stated project goals and planning, adaptively managing and evaluating success over a sufficiently long timeframe; (d) focusing on the forest ecosystem as a whole, and not just the trees; (e) coordinating different land uses and (f) involving stakeholders at all stages of the planning process. Synthesis and applications. Tree planting, along with other strategies to increase tree cover in appropriate locations and contexts, can make a valuable contribution to ensuring the ecological and social well-being of our planet in coming decades, but only if these efforts are considered as one component of multifaceted solutions to complex environmental problems and are carefully planned, implemented and monitored over a sufficiently long time-scale with stakeholder engagement and broader consideration of socio-ecological complexities.
... While the metrics used to estimate the contribution of agricultural land covers to economic interests typically do not apply to riparian areas and other non-commercial land covers, a 2006 study found that riparian restoration that targets both social and ecological benefit metrics has the potential to optimize improvements in both. Such an approach created benefits for ecosystem health as well as socioeconomic services such as reduction in losses from damage to floodplain infrastructure and increased access to recreational resources along the Sacramento River [82]. In terms of economic tradeoffs, some studies report concern from agricultural producers that weed seed banks from riparian areas might affect crop yields in adjacent production areas. ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Executive Summary: The Central Valley of California is one of the most heavily modified landscapes in the world, with millions of acres of semi-arid grassland, desert, mesic, wetland, and riparian areas transformed into an irrigated crop production powerhouse through large-scale infrastructure and irrigation projects. Despite its reputation as an agricultural "sacrifice zone", it remains an area of conservation focus for its varied, unique, and vibrant ecosystems, from rare vernal pools and serpentine grasslands to the extensive networks of riverine systems, riparian forests, and wetlands that converge at the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. While the importance of these natural areas for human-valued functions such as water supply and quality regulation, biodiversity, culture, and recreation is well established, the dominance of agricultural land covers in the Central Valley underscores the need to understand to what extent they contribute to or detract from ecosystem functions beyond crop production. Much of the information that is available on the potential benefits from agricultural and natural land covers is not centralized. Instead, disparate reports from research activities that vary in geographic location, scope, and timeframe constitute the bulk of the literature. Furthermore, most studies implement a particular suite of metrics to characterize benefits or tradeoffs provided by a land cover depending on the objectives of the study. Therefore, a synthesis of information on multiple benefits that aggregates metrics into a single database with comparable units of measure is an important step towards incorporating multiple benefits research into concerted planning and policy-making efforts for a multifunctional Central Valley landscape. We performed a rapid evidence assessment following a consistent search strategy and predetermined inclusion/exclusion criteria. We limited the results of the literature search to peer-reviewed publications from 2010-2020 with a geographic focus on the Central Valley, including the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. We extracted published, quantitative estimates of benefits and/or tradeoffs associated with individual land covers and compiled a database consisting of metrics on: 1) climate regulation (e.g., greenhouse gas emissions, carbon storage/sequestration), 2) economy (e.g., livelihoods, production value), 3) environmental health (e.g., pollution, pesticide load), 4) water (e.g., water quality, water use), and 5) wildlife, specifically value for avian conservation. We also consulted expert panels in the fields of agricultural ecology and conservation to assess: 1) avian conservation value, and 2) vulnerability to the impacts of climate change of each of the land covers. Finally, we produced a spatially-explicit model using publicly-available datasets to visualize the distribution of ecosystem benefits and tradeoffs, including carbon storage potential, air and water quality, groundwater recharge, and socio-cultural benefits. We found that the agricultural land covers most likely to be associated with multiple benefits were alfalfa, rice, and rangelands/pastures (including shrublands and oak woodlands managed for grazing). Alfalfa was associated with benefits such as carbon sequestration and managed aquifer recharge potential, along with minor support for biodiversity, although tradeoffs such as nitrous oxide emissions from mature stands and high consumptive water use were also noted. Flooded rice systems were notable for their high value for wildlife, particularly waterfowl, shorebirds, and waterbirds, along with their economic value in the form of relatively high wages for agricultural labor, although methane emissions and consumptive water use were also a concern. As for orchard crops, which are notable for their large increase in planted area in recent years, their important contributions to agricultural production value and agricultural livelihoods were offset by potential tradeoffs in air quality metrics, nitrate leaching risk, and consumptive water use. Grasslands, including rangelands and pastures managed for livestock production as well as unmanaged grasslands, had high potential benefits for climate regulation via carbon storage and sequestration in soils and belowground biomass, along with high value for biodiversity and support of valuable agricultural pollination services. In contrast, annual field crops such as tomatoes, corn, and cotton were the most likely to be associated with tradeoffs such as greenhouse gas emissions, nitrate Multiple Benefits from Central Valley Land Covers iii Peterson et al. June 2020 leaching hazard, and heavy pesticide use. Natural land covers such as unmanaged grasslands, wetlands, and riparian areas were most widely associated with benefits such as support for wildlife populations, carbon storage (particularly in riparian areas) and pollutant mitigation (in the case of wetlands), while some tradeoffs in greenhouse gas emissions were noted. The spatial distribution of benefits and tradeoffs was highly heterogeneous, although in many cases a north-south trend was evident with areas in the northern Central Valley/Sacramento Valley exhibiting more relative benefits than areas in the southern Central Valley/San Joaquin Valley. The former is noted for the concentrated production of rice, along with a mixture of tomatoes, alfalfa, and orchard crops such as almonds and walnuts. The latter, on the other hand, is associated with most of the Central Valley's production of annual row crops (e.g., cotton), oranges and lemons, table grapes, and deciduous perennial tree crops such as pistachios, almonds, peaches, and prunes. Carbon storage patterns were particularly distinctive, with hotspots in the highly organic soils of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the former Tulare lakebed. However, the distribution of carbon storage potential was inversely related to carbon storage, in agreement with research showing the Delta and Tulare lakebed to be sites of carbon loss [1]. Our ability to draw general conclusions on the relative benefits or tradeoffs associated with Central Valley land covers was limited by the single-intervention nature of most of the quantitative research available on benefit/tradeoff related metrics. Experimental designs often must restrict activities to a single or few related land covers and investigate the impacts of an intervention on the metric of interest. For the purposes of cross-system comparisons, there were very few studies that addressed variability in benefit/tradeoff metrics across multiple land covers from a multiple benefits or multi-functional landscapes perspective. Many studies were focused on a few key metrics of known importance for a particular land cover, e.g., methane emissions in rice, rather than a broader survey of potential benefits and tradeoffs. Furthermore, most experimental analyses are spatially biased and not representative of the entire Central Valley landscape. These challenges highlight the need for more research on human-valued benefits across land covers from a multiple benefits perspective, preferably with a common set of metrics and indicators relevant to most or all of the land covers under consideration. The following report synthesizes the most recent, Central-Valley-specific literature available on multiple benefit and tradeoff metrics. Section I presents individual land cover profiles, with a compilation of published, quantitative estimates for benefit/tradeoff metrics relative to other land covers, and where relevant, discussion of additional metrics not included in benefit/tradeoff analysis. Section II provides further details on a benefit/tradeoff analysis across land covers using data extracted from the published literature, along with the results of expert panel scoring on relative avian conservation value and climate change vulnerability among land covers. Finally, Section III presents results for spatial models of benefits and tradeoff metrics, including carbon storage, air, water, and habitat quality, groundwater recharge potential, and socio-cultural benefits across the Central Valley. Appendices are included for detailed coverage of methods for the rapid evidence assessment, benefit/tradeoff analyses, and index development. The complete database and code in R script associated with this report are freely available on the Dryad repository under DOI:
... Conservation and restoration of river corridors in California's semi-arid zones are important but daunting undertakings, particularly given the combined effects of habitat loss and other impacts from past land use practices and flow alteration, the introduction and spread of non-native invasive species, and increasing demands for water and land due to human population growth and global climate change. Managing for healthy native riparian vegetation and connected floodplains is a central part of river management and restoration because healthy riparian floodplains provide critical ecosystem services, such as reducing impacts of large flood events through nonstructural flood control, protecting water quality and terrestrial and aquatic habitat quality, maintaining habitat connectivity and movement corridors for fish and wildlife, and enhancing local and regional biodiversity (Gergel et al. 2002;Golet et al. 2006;Seavy et al. 2009;Opperman et al. 2010). ...
Conference Paper
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Conservation and restoration of California's semi-arid river corridors pose daunting challenges, particularly in light of increasing human demands for water and land coupled with global climate change and the increasing threat from non-native invasive plant species. Vegetation classification and mapping provide an important foundation for integrative planning to conserve and restore these dynamic riparian systems. Using riparian vegetation studies conducted for the California Coastal Conservancy's Santa Clara River Parkway Project (Ventura County, CA) as a case study, we discuss how rapid field-based vegetation surveys and mapping can be coupled with studies of the hydrogeomorphic processes that shape these systems, including large El Niño flood events, to improve our understanding of the key drivers affecting riparian vegetation dynamics. On the Santa Clara River, we found that, although the river still has high conservation value and is less impacted than most other lowland alluvial rivers in Southern California, the extent of riparian vegetation has been dramatically reduced by levees and floodplain development; that large areas of native riparian vegetation have been replaced by invasive, non-native species; and that the distribution and abundance of riparian vegetation types varies with longitudinal position (river reach). This level of understanding is essential if we are to develop successful, cost-effective strategies for restoring rivers to more naturally functioning systems that provide ecosystem and societal benefits while remaining resilient to altered conditions that will inevitably occur as a result of local, regional and global change.
... Riparian forest restoration is already widely recognized for providing multiple benefits, including (1) creating transition zones between water channels and adjacent land uses that can improve water quality and store flood water (Daigneault et al., 2017;Naiman et al., 2010;O'Brien et al., 2017); (2) enhancing fish and wildlife habitat (Dybala, Engilis, Trochet, Engilis, & Truan, 2018;Golet et al., 2008;Jansen & Robertson, 2001); and (3) providing recreational opportunities such as wildlife watching, fishing, and hunting that can help support local economies (Carver, 2013;Carver & Caudill, 2013;Golet et al., 2006). Our results demonstrate that riparian forests have a strong potential to contribute to carbon sequestration, which should be considered an additional co-benefit of riparian restoration. ...
Restoration of deforested and degraded landscapes is a globally recognized strategy to sequester carbon, improve ecological integrity, conserve biodiversity, and provide additional benefits to human health and well‐being. Investment in riparian forest restoration has received relatively little attention, in part due to their relatively small spatial extent. Yet, riparian forest restoration may be a particularly valuable strategy because riparian forests have the potential for rapid carbon sequestration, are hotspots of biodiversity, and provide numerous valuable ecosystem services. To inform this strategy, we conducted a global synthesis and meta‐analysis to identify general patterns of carbon stock accumulation in riparian forests. We compiled riparian biomass and soil carbon stock data from 117 publications, reports, and unpublished data sets. We then modeled the change in carbon stock as a function of vegetation age, considering effects of climate and whether or not the riparian forest had been actively planted. On average, our models predicted that the establishment of riparian forest will more than triple the baseline, unforested soil carbon stock, and that riparian forests hold on average 68–158 Mg C/ha in biomass at maturity, with the highest values in relatively warm and wet climates. We also found that actively planting riparian forest substantially jump‐starts the biomass carbon accumulation, with initial growth rates more than double those of naturally regenerating riparian forest. Our results demonstrate that carbon sequestration should be considered a strong co‐benefit of riparian restoration, and that increasing the pace and scale of riparian forest restoration may be a valuable investment providing both immediate carbon sequestration value and long‐term ecosystem service returns.
... Here, we argue that learning from and partnering with CE can enhance stakeholder integration into restoration and conservation projects both within and external to the United States while possibly minimizing the increased uncertainty, time, and costs that can accompany community-based decision-making (e.g. Golet et al. 2006). ...
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Stakeholder input for restoration and conservation efforts is critical for project success and societal buy‐in. A lack of experience or training, however, might limit the ability of managers to develop the partnerships needed for effective integration of stakeholders in project design and deployment. Cooperative Extension (CE), a boundary spanning organization associated with U.S. land‐grant institutions, can help address this limitation because it has a long history of success with identifying, reaching out to, and connecting stakeholders in management projects. Organizations both within and external to the U.S. can enhance stakeholder contributions in restoration and conservation by leveraging expertise in CE. This can occur both by learning from and partnering with CE. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
River restoration initiatives are now widespread across the world. The research efforts undertaken to support them are increasingly interdisciplinary, focusing on ecological but also societal issues. Based on a review of previous contributions, this chapter provides an overview of research in human and social sciences in the field of river restoration. It illustrates how, in three decades, such approaches have evolved and strengthened within the restoration sciences. The scientific community working on societal issues has structured itself, often regionally and circumstantially, to contribute to, critically assess, and improve restoration policies and practices. Our scientific literature review highlights this research field and is structured along three thematic axes: (i) human–river interactions, especially perceptions and practices of rivers and how these interactions can be changed by restoration projects; (ii) critical analysis of political processes, with a particular interest in governance and decision‐making, and a specific emphasis on the question of public participation in restoration projects; and (iii) evaluation of the economic benefits of river restoration. All these scientific contributions on societal issues are based on survey methods, documentary analysis, or economic valuation, which are introduced in dedicated inserts. Finally, we discuss how these research efforts and the diversity of researchers’ positions contribute to improve restoration approaches in practice.
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The authors' personal experience in watershed planning and decision making in the agricultural Midwest is described to illustrate how: (1) formalization of the process of community-based management is not sufficient to guarantee that local people will meaningfully consider scientific information and opinion when making decisions about watersheds, and (2) genuine social interaction between scientists and nonscientists requires a considerable investment of time and energy on the part of the scientist to develop personal relationships with nonscientists based on trust and mutual exchange of information. This experience provides the basis for developing a general conceptual model of the interaction between scientists and nonscientists in community-based watershed management in the agricultural Midwest. An important aspect of integrating science effectively into community-based decision making is the need to revise existing concepts to accommodate place-based contexts. Stream naturalization is introduced as an alternative to stream restoration and rehabilitation, which are viewed as inappropriate management strategies in human-dominated environments. Stream naturalization seeks to establish sustainable, morphologically and hydraulically varied, yet dynamically stable fluvial systems that are capable of supporting healthy, biologically diverse aquatic ecosystems. This general goal is consistent with the types of stream-management practices emerging from community-based decision making in human-dominated, agricultural landscapes. Further research on the linkages between geomorphological and ecological dynamics of human-modified agricultural streams over multiple spatial and temporal scales is needed to provide a sound scientific framework for stream naturalization.
Conference Paper
Running water ecology is a young science, the conceptual foundations of which were derived largely from research conducted in Europe and North America. However, virtually all European river corridors were substantially regulated well before the science of river ecology developed. While regulation of North American river systems occurred later than in European systems, river ecology also developed later. Therefore, there is a general impression of rivers as being much less heterogeneous and much more stable than they actually are in the natural state. The thesis of this paper is that established research and management concepts may fail to fully recognize the crucial roles of habitat heterogeneity and fluvial dynamics owing to a lack of fundamental knowledge of the structural and functional features of morphologically intact river corridors. Until quite recently, most concepts in river ecology were based on the implicit assumption that rivers are stable, single-thread channels isolated from adjacent floodplains. Unfortunately, many rivers are in just such a state, but it should be recognized that this is not the natural condition. This incomplete understanding constrains scientific advances in river ecology and renders management and restoration initiatives less effective. Examples are given of the high level of spatio-temporal heterogeneity that may be attained in rivers where natural processes still operate on a large scale. The objective of this paper is to promulgate a broader and more integrative understanding of natural processes in river corridors as a necessary prelude to effective river conservation and management. Copyright (C) 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.