Workshop on aquatic ecosystem restoration

 

Dr. George Ice (NCASI Fellow and Forest Watershed Program Manager) participated in a workshop on aquatic ecosystem restoration hosted by the US Army Corps of Engineers in July 2010. The Corps’ budget for aquatic ecosystem restoration is on the order of $500 million per year. Projects range from restoration of the Everglades in Florida, to fish passage improvements for sturgeon in the South, to riparian habitat restoration for salmon in the Pacific Northwest. The goal of these efforts is to “…restore degraded ecosystem structure, function, and dynamic processes to a less degraded, more natural condition.”

The workshop focused on the Corps’ methods for assessing aquatic ecosystems and setting priorities for restoration efforts. The workshop leader was Dr. David Tazik with the Corps’ Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Presentations included a review of the status of aquatic ecosystems by Dr. David Strayer with the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies; and a talk titled “Risk Adjusted Social Benefits Metrics for Prioritizing Restoration Investments” by Dr. Lisa Wainger with the University of Maryland.

Dr. Ice’s presentation focused on three themes. First, sustainable forest management makes important contributions to ecosystem restoration in the United States. Second, forests have legacy conditions that can include impacts on aquatic ecosystems from past deforestation and/or unsustainable management practices. Finally, forest management has dramatically changed. Dr. Ice noted that all states with significant commercial forestry activities have adopted Best Management Practices to protect water quality and aquatic ecosystems. He also provided examples of aquatic restoration projects supported by NCASI members and discussed NCASI’s ongoing research on factors affecting movement of native fish through forest road culverts.

Workshop participants concluded that the Corps’ methods of assessing project priorities covered many (but not all) key factors. Suggestions for improvement included (a) focus on limiting factors for key ecosystem functions rather than using a predetermined method of weighing project priorities; and (b) explicitly incorporate risk into the assessment.

Contact Information 

  • George Ice at (541) 752-8801, gice@ncasi.org