Keywords:anadromous fish, ecosystem management, endangered species, fisheries, native fish, Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta, science management, water quality
The Little Hoover Commission in a letter sent Friday to Governor Brown and the Legislature again renewed its call for urgent action at...
The Little Hoover Commission in a letter sent Friday to Governor Brown and the Legislature again renewed its call for urgent action at the Salton Sea to prevent a massive public health, environmental and economic disaster in Southern California.
Policymakers must replicate the effective approach taken to meet the state’s rewewable energy goals, wrote the Commission in its letter. Then, the Govenor gave a senior official the authority to do what it took to get projects through red tape at all levels of government. The model was remarkably simple: Get everyone together and get it done.
The letter results from continuing oversight to which the Commission pledged in its 2015 report, Averting Disaster: Action Now for the Salton Sea. The Commission held an April 2016 hearing to get an update on the state’s progress in strategically managing the Salton Sea. It heard from the assistant secretary for Salton Sea policy at the Natural Resources Agency, as well as stakeholders from local government and the environmental community.
The Commission’s letter acknowledges that momentum is building and that the state has made important progress in managing the sea, particularly with $80 million in funding in the Governor’s proposed 2016-17 budget. However, the Commission’s letter maintains that the state is not moving fast enough or allocating sufficient resources to prevent a disaster. Timelines have been delayed, short-term goals scarcely cover a fraction of exposed lakebed and much more than $80 million is needed to manage the sea.
San Francisco Bay (California, USA) and its local watersheds present an interesting case study in estuarine mercury (Hg) contamination. This review focuses on...
San Francisco Bay (California, USA) and its local watersheds present an interesting case study in estuarine mercury (Hg) contamination. This review focuses on the most promising avenues for attempting to reduce methylmercury (MeHg) contamination in Bay Area aquatic food webs and identifying the scientific information that is most urgently needed to support these efforts.
Adaptive management is the process of incorporating new scientific and programmatic information into the implementation of a project or plan to ensure that...
Adaptive management is the process of incorporating new scientific and programmatic information into the implementation of a project or plan to ensure that the goals of the activity are being reached efficiently. It promotes flexible decision-making to modify existing activities or create new activities if new circumstances arise (e.g., new scientific information) or if projects are not meeting their goals.
The complex and dynamic nature of ecosystems make their restoration and management amenable to an adaptive management approach, and the concept is being implemented at scales that include entire regions or river basins. Adaptive management has been used to guide several major ecosystem restoration efforts with involvement by the federal government, including those on the Colorado and Platte rivers. Some of these adaptive management efforts have been specifically authorized by Congress, whereas other efforts have been formulated by agencies.
Adaptive management has also been proposed as a guiding principle for several new and ongoing major restoration efforts, including those in the Chesapeake Bay and Lake Tahoe.
The concept of adaptive management is straightforward, but its implementation can be difficult. A preliminary review of federal adaptive management efforts related to ecosystem restoration projects suggests that governance structures, management protocol and other factors vary widely. Additionally, the scope and timing of efforts employing the term “adaptive management” seems to vary among these projects. Where adaptive management has been implemented, it has encountered challenges. While adaptive management theoretically uses the best available science and monitoring to guide a project or program towards its stated goals, in practice the process can be affected by a number of outside factors.
As the number of federal adaptive management efforts grows, Congress may revisit its role in shaping adaptive management programs in legislation. Some argue that Congress should do more to provide specific direction for major adaptive management initiatives in order to make adaptive management more consistent among these efforts. Others contend that Congress should allow federal agencies or restoration governing bodies to shape their own adaptive management programs, thus providing them with flexibility to match their program to their restoration needs.
In addressing adaptive management, Congress may face decisions regarding the implementation guidelines and authorizations it provides these efforts, funds to establish and carry out these programs, and oversight issues.
This report provides an introduction to the concept of adaptive management. It focuses on the application of this concept to large, freshwater aquatic ecosystem restoration projects with multiple stakeholders. A summary of the benefits and drawbacks of adaptive management for these projects is provided, along with analysis of potential issues associated with various governance models for these efforts. The potential role for Congress in addressing adaptive management is also discussed. As an appendix, the report summarizes the structure and implementation of federal adaptive management efforts to date five ecosystems: Glen Canyon/Colorado River, Platte River, Lower Colorado River, Missouri River, and Florida Everglades.
Resolution of the Delta’s water supply, water quality, and fish problems may involve building various structures, possibly including gates, pumps, canals, levees, and...
Resolution of the Delta’s water supply, water quality, and fish problems may involve building various structures, possibly including gates, pumps, canals, levees, and dams, and undertaking landscaping rearrangements to improve habitat for several species of flora and fauna. Resolution also involves changing water flow regimes in ways that would make more or less water, but probably less, available for human uses. This work and these changes will cost serious money. Cost estimates for many of these actions have not yet been developed.
This paper explores approaches to financing these “improvements” and “mitigations.” While a little abstract, this is abstraction that matters. It will determine from whose pockets a good deal of money will come.
California has a long history of financing water projects. The first section of this paper reviews this history, in hopes of identifying water-financing principles that might be adapted to Delta improvements and mitigation. Some deep-seated controversies about how Delta improvements should be financed have roots in this history, and it may be helpful to point them out.
A core idea in California’s approach to financing water projects is that beneficiaries should pay for them. Decades ago, this was a straightforward proposition – people or water districts should pay for the necessary dams, canals, and pumps and the costs of operating them in proportion to the amount of water they received. In the current age of rising environmental sensitivity, it is a little muddier. An alternative formulation that applies, at least crudely, to housing developments and highway projects, is that project proponents should pay to mitigate at least some of the environmental harm that their project is likely to cause. The second section of this paper explores this controversial subject. It seems unlikely that any consensus can be reached about how to finance facilities in the Delta without reaching some agreement about how to deal with this matter.
This paper was first issued in July, 2008. This version contains a few clarifications made in response to the Blue Ribbon Task Force’s reviewers. The author is grateful for their suggestions.