EcoRestore Adaptive Management Program

Background

Adaptive Management is a key component of the California EcoRestore initiative. California EcoRestore is developing an adaptive management program to achieve its habitat restoration goals and increase restoration success for the benefit of the long-term health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Suisun Marsh’s native fish and wildlife species. The program will build on the principles for adaptive management established in the Delta Plan and the Delta Science Plan, including the Delta Stewardship Council’s Delta Plan adaptive management cycle (below):

In the face of uncertainty, adaptive management is the preferred approach to implementing management actions. It emphasizes acquisition and use of new knowledge in management of natural resources under changing conditions. There is widespread support for using adaptive management for habitat restoration projects in the Delta and Suisun Marsh with many current efforts and existing programs contributing. However, many recognize that incorporating adaptive management into restoration projects is challenging.

The California EcoRestore Adaptive Management Program will 1) support individual restoration projects, 2) consider local and system-scale effects, 3) set a stage to evaluate impacts of restoration actions at multiple time and spatial scales, and 4) have an organization structure wherein acquired knowledge is effectively communicated and used for development of subsequent goals, objectives and management actions.

Interagency Adaptive Management Integration Team

California EcoRestore asked the Delta Science Program to convene an interagency adaptive management technical team to assist in developing a Delta ecosystem restoration adaptive management program. The scope of this program will initially be in support of current EcoRestore projects, but the intent is to create a strong foundation for a long-term program that would support future restoration in the Delta and Suisun Marsh. The Interagency Adaptive Management Integration Team (IAMIT) is comprised of agency and stakeholder scientists and technical management staff. The purpose of the IAMIT is to serve as a technical coordinating body, to strengthen interagency collaboration, and to elevate and enhance existing efforts in order to develop a comprehensive adaptive management program. Core representatives are scientific or technical staff from federal, state, and local agencies, other interagency programs and workgroups, and NGOs that plan, facilitate, implement, fund, or regulate habitat restoration projects in the Delta and Suisun Marsh.

Current participants include:

  • Delta Conservancy
  • Delta Counties (Contract Costa, Solano, Sacramento, San Joaquin, and Yolo)
  • Delta Stewardship Council
  • CA Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • CA Department of Water Resources (DWR)
  • DWR EcoRestore Program
  • NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service
  • NOAA Fisheries Science Center
  • NGO Representatives
  • State and Federal Water Contractors Agency
  • State Water Resource Control Board
  • US Bureau of Reclamation
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service
  • US Geological Survey

The IAMIT works in conjunction with the Steering Committee that was formed to provide policy guidance for the development of the Adaptive Management program. Members are policy level staff from many or the IAMIT participants. The Steering Committee is expected to provide guidance on issues such as funding, staffing and governance.

Lauren Hastings, with the Delta Stewardship Council, is the EcoRestore Adaptive Management Coordinator who will be working with the Steering Committee and IAMIT to implement the Program.

EcoRestore Adaptive Management White Paper

The initial focus of the IAMIT and Steering Committee in 2016 and early 2017 was completing the EcoRestore Adaptive Management White Paper, which contains recommendations to develop an integrated and financially-supported adaptive management program for habitat restoration in the Delta and Suisun Marsh. While the scope of this paper is limited to integration of current EcoRestore projects, implementation of the recommendations will provide a strong foundation for a robust, long-term habitat restoration adaptive management program that is based on scientifically rigorous modeling, monitoring, research and assessment methods.

The EcoRestore Adaptive Management Program described in this paper has an emphasis on tracking and evaluating program-wide progress and would also provide resources to support effective implementation of adaptive management at the project level. The White Paper includes 38 recommendations in the following 11 categories:

  • Governance
  • Conceptual models and key uncertainties
  • Quantitative modeling
  • Shared system-wide resources
  • Data management
  • Performance measures
  • Project-level support
  • Monitoring and research
  • Analysis and synthesis
  • Communication
  • Regulatory flexibility

The Steering Committee and IAMIT will not assume decision-making authority under the adaptive management program; rather, decision making will stay within the actual agencies and stakeholder groups. The recommendations will need to be periodically revisited and updated to reflect changes in political, fiscal, and physical landscapes.

The Steering Committee and IAMIT will play a key role in the implementation of White Paper recommendations and support the development of an EcoRestore Adaptive Management Program by:

1) Developing interagency collaborative products,
2) Providing consultation and further advice to agencies and programs, and
3) Tracking the status of White Paper recommendations being implemented by other entities.

Read the EcoRestore Adaptive Management Program White Paper (draft 3/7/2017)