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Bay-Delta Science Conference

09/26/2018

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"Adaptive management will flounder, says a veteran of efforts on the Colorado River, "if it's only guided by stakeholder concerns and is tightly constrained by nuanced policy considerations."
Bay-Delta Science Conference:

Adaptive Management may Flounder if only Guided by Stakeholder Concerns & Stringent Policy

"Adaptive management will flounder, says a veteran of efforts on the Colorado River, "if it's only guided by stakeholder concerns and is tightly constrained by nuanced policy considerations." In 1997, after more than three decades of reservoir operation and nearly two decades of studies and lawsuits, scientists and stakeholders joined in the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program that was formed by the Department of the Interior. Unfortunately, the process of defining the program’s objectives and goals resulted in "making everybody feel good but did not identify the hard choices that need to be made to define what kind of an ecosystem is the goal of the program,” according to Jack Schmidt of Utah State University and former Chief of the USGS/Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center. The objectives of the program include " maximizing engineering efficiencies, restoring river resources that are relics of the past, and managing river resources that are artifacts of the existence and operations of Glen Canyon Dam. In truth, we can’t have it all.”  The essential questions that must be addressed by the program also were not made explicit -- "How do you rehabilitate valued sand bars used for camping when there's not enough sand? What do you do when one [valued] introduced fish species eats another [valued] native fish species?" Schmidt acknowledges some modest successes, like “controlled floods” designed to redistribute the scarce sand supply to desired locations along the channel banks and "bug flows" to help hatching insects and thereby increase the food base for fish. “These successes were conceived and developed by river scientists, not the stakeholders,” Schmidt pointed out. But the inherent conflicts in the Program remain. For example, "the benefits of controlled floods are quickly eroded by normal hydropower operations." Schmidt expressed hope that scientists working on the Delta and Bay play a clear and strong role in developing alternative management options."