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2021 Conference

2021 Conference

    Cameo Post-Fire Vegetation Restoration & Lessons Learned
    Kyle Alstatt, Cory Lidberg* and Melissa Werkmeister*
    U.S.Bureau of Reclamation, Western Colorado Area Office, Grand Junction, Colorado, U.S.A.
    Kyle Alstatt –; Cory Lidberg* –; Melissa Werkmeister* -
    After fire impacted Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) and private properties along the Colorado River in spring 2018, Riversedge West (REW) applied for and secured grant funding through the Colorado Water Conservation Board for restoration efforts to control noxious weeds (including tamarisk and Russian olive, or TRO), followed by seeding native grass species. The BOR  worked directly to begin restoring approximately 25 acres of federal land in the Cameo, Colorado area.
    Vegetation management goals were identified.  BOR folks chemically controlled noxious weeds, and the Western Colorado Conservation Corps, through REW, used cut stump treatments of TRO. After invasive species are controlled, the site will be reseeded (February 2021) with a native grass species mix.  Ongoing monitoring and maintenance will be completed for a minimum of 5 years past the completion of the project.
    Issues we encountered and pursued resolution of:  site access; equipment repairs; weather conditions and timing chemical control of weeds; seed planting timing; COVID-19 field work restrictions; staff turnover and rehiring delays; conflicts with other spring and fall work scheduling; surrounding area noxious weeds infestations; allelopathy remaining in the soil post Russian knapweed control; and long-term noxious weed maintenance.
    Virtual Connections Building Towards Real World Collaborative Watershed Management in the San Juan Basin
    Alyssa Richmond1
    1San Juan Watershed Group, Aztec, NM, USA;
    The San Juan Watershed Group (SJWG) completed the Lower Animas Watershed Based Plan (LAWBP) in 2016. Over the past four years, the group and its partners have begun implementing projects outlined in the plan to improve water quality and watershed health. Through the culmination of our capacity building and lessons learned from project management and outreach, the SJWG is now planning to expand our work through a restoration plan along the San Juan River and its major tributaries between Navajo Lake State Park and Shiprock, New Mexico.
    One of the most instrumental lessons learned from the LAWBP is that waiting to establish community connections and build trust until the end of the planning process slowed the anticipated momentum on conducting water quality improvement projects.  Conducting outreach early and consistently throughout the planning process correlates to more impactful implementation of on the ground projects that are both valued by the community and lead to non-point source pollution reductions. The SJWG have adapted their strategy to begin the watershed planning process early via thorough Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis and stakeholder outreach, which is now being conducted through a virtual ArcGIS Online mapping format. This ensures public safety during COVID-19 and streamlines collection of community needs and values. Essentially a virtual method to posted notes on a large printed out map, this live, interactive, and transparent mapping process ensures community members lead the discussion on known areas of concern and identifying categories of watershed restoration methods. From this accumulative input, the SJWG, government agencies, tribal entities, municipalities, nonprofits, local work groups, and the general public can prioritize and implement these restoration methods together to benefit water quality and watershed health. One significant example from this effort is the hosting of a Russian Olive Community Forum as requested by the Navajo community, which bridged relationships with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to partner in an inventory of Russian Olive throughout District 12 of the Navajo Nation. In keeping an open mind to community concerns, even more doors are kept open to nurture relationships that would not have occurred otherwise.  
    IPaC – A One-stop Shop for Environmental Review
    Sasha Doss1*
    1 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Western Colorado Ecological Services Field Office, Grand Junction, CO, USA;
    If you are working on a restoration project and need a species list, survey protocols, an impact analysis, or conservation measures, IPaC is your one-stop shop. IPaC, also known as Information for Planning and Consultation, is an online environmental review platform developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). IPaC provides information on how certain project types might impact sensitive natural resources and delivers suggestions on how to address those impacts. Although originally developed for Section 7 consultations under the Endangered Species Act, IPaC is available to all – private citizens, NGOs, and state and federal agencies – who need information for environmental review. IPaC includes information on threatened, endangered, and candidate species, migratory birds, wetlands, and USFWS facilities. IPaC delivers species and habitat survey protocols, project design guidelines, species lists, conservation measures and more. In this presentation, I’ll review the types of information available in IPaC and demonstrate how to enter a project. Following the presentation, listeners should understand how to use IPaC and who to contact if they need assistance.
    Freshwater Ecosystems and Climate Change Adaptation
    Bart (A.J.) Wickel1
    1Stockholm Environment Institute, Davis, California, USA;
    Natural ecosystems form an integral buffer that can shield communities and society from extreme weather events and climate conditions such as droughts and floods.  As we are experiencing novel conditions due to changes in global climate caused by anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, the ability of ecosystems to adjust to and recover from disturbance events is increasingly exceeded. Simultaneously, the design and operational parameters for water management infrastructure are increasingly out of sync with emerging climate conditions.  Climate adaptation is defined as the process of adjusting to, and preparing for, the impacts of climate change while we get greenhouse gas emissions under control. Freshwater ecosystems can play a significant role in climate adaptation strategies but are also particularly vulnerable to specific impacts. In this presentation, I will discuss several types of climate adaptation strategies, approaches for developing them, lessons learned and share thoughts on how our collective experiences in the climate adaptation arena can benefit future efforts.
    Soil Analysis for Restoration on the Santa Clara River
    Margot Mason1*, Adam Lambert2
    1University of California, Santa Barbara, California, USA; 
    2University of California, Santa Barbara, California, USA; 
    Understanding abiotic site conditions, including soil properties, is important in the creation of informed restoration plans. The Santa Clara River is one of the most hydrologically intact biodiverse riparian corridors in Southern California, but suffers from agricultural impacts and rapid urbanization. The Sespe Cienega is a site of particular interest owing to its persistently rising groundwater and the potential for restoring a significant groundwater-dependent ecosystem in river. The Cienega is heavily infested by giant reed (Arundo donax), saltceder (Tamarisx spp.), and many herbaceous invasive species. Restoration efforts based on invasive species removal have been underway on the site, which was historically a watercress farm, and is co-located with an operational fish hatchery, since 2017. Understanding soil conditions is especially important at the Cienega as agricultural land use changes, and flood scour and deposition history have created diverse soil conditions which vary in appropriateness for different native species. An array of 60 soil samples was collected on the 278 acre site in July 2020 and analysed for pH, conductivity, texture, and bulk density to prepare soil maps and identify locations that may need remediation before active planting. Preliminary findings linear modelling findings show that pH can be modelled using distance to the river and percent clay (p<0.006), whereas conductivity is only significantly predicted by soil texture. Areas with current or previous Arundo stands were found to have significantly lower compaction than areas with other vegetation cover types (ANOVA, p<0.01). The inverse distance weighted interpolation tool in ArcGIS was used to create maps of the variation in soil characteristics across the site to aid in management decisions, and Theissen polygons with appropriate soil properties were selected to guide planting of various desired native species. This process of sample collection and subsequent spatial analysis may provide a suitable model for other projects wishing to make informed restoration decisions at a low budget. 
    Restoration of Longitudinal Connectivity of the Price River for the Benefit of Native Fish Species and People
    Eric McCulley1
    1 RiverRestoration
    Helper City has been working on the enhancement of the Price River through the city in a multi-phase program called the Helper River Revitalization Project since 2013. One of the key objectives of the project has been to improve the longitudinal aquatic habitat connectivity of the Price River through this reach by removing obsolete irrigation infrastructure and replacement of grade control structures with more fish passage friendly instream structures. Five out of six phases of the project have been completed, connecting approximately two miles of river, which had significant connectivity issues due to historical alteration. The results of fish sampling of the river through Helper City in 2016 and 2019 indicate that naturally recruiting Bluehead sucker and stocked Colorado River cutthroat trout are thriving in the newly connected reaches. Further study on the fish movement patterns is planned for the future, but preliminary results of sampling have shown that fish can move up and downstream through the system, where baseline results indicated the absence of these important Utah species in previously isolated reaches.
    Mitigating Impacts of Climate Change at Watershed Scales
    Chris Sturm1
    1 Colorado Water Conservation Board
    Recent studies by the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) suggest a potential increase in short-duration rainfall intensity of 5-15% in Colorado. As the pendulum swings between drought and extreme precipitation events, the CWCB is developing a more proactive approach to post-fire flood mitigation. Planning for disaster recovery during or between disasters, i.e. fire followed by flood, does not often allow for innovative or long term solutions. CWCB staff will discuss strategies to mitigate impacts from post-fire flooding. The need to leverage planning across disciplines within the same watershed is greater than ever. Plans and projects designed to benefit water supply, ecological health (structure and function), and flood mitigation are true multi-objective efforts that are positioned favorable to compete for funding.




    New Findings on the Climate Sensitivity of the Water Balance of the Upper Colorado River Basin
    Chris Milly1
    1 Integrated Modeling and Prediction Division, U.S. Geological Survey
    The structure and function of rivers and riparian environments depend on many factors, and these include both climate and human disturbances. Under a changing climate, river restoration efforts may benefit from information about the future trajectory of climate and its impact on water balance. Because of the central role played by the Colorado River for water supply in the Southwest, many scientific investigations have been undertaken over the years in an effort to define the climate sensitivity of runoff in the Upper Colorado River Basin (UCRB). These investigations have yielded frustratingly inconsistent results. We found that the widely varying estimates of sensitivity of UCRB runoff to climate can be reconciled by recognizing certain shortcomings in the methods that have been used until now. By avoiding these shortcomings, we have considerably narrowed the uncertainty in climate sensitivity of the UCRB. Our analysis shows that (and, importantly, explains why) the amount of reduction in flow that results from atmospheric warming is strongly dependent on the seasonal cycle of snow cover; this finding may be useful in predicting which sub-basins within the UCRB are least/most sensitive to warming.
    A Riparian Ecosystem Data Explorer for Monitoring the Lower Colorado River: Integrated and Dynamic Web-based Delivery of Actionable Information
    Pamela Nagler1*, Armando Barreto-Muñoz2 and Kamel Didan2
    1U.S. Geological Survey, Southwest Biological Science Center, Tucson, AZ, 85721 USA;
    2University of Arizona, Biosystems Engineering, Tucson, AZ, 85721 USA;,
    Intensification of drought across the Colorado River Basin is causing ecosystem stress and catastrophic transformations that result in increasing challenges for resource management. Over the past two decades, riparian plant species on the Lower Colorado have declined drastically, suggesting further deterioration of biodiversity, wildlife habitat and key ecosystem services. Researchers from the USGS and University of Arizona have built an interactive, searchable Lower Colorado River Data Explorer for the purpose of allowing users to monitor riparian ecosystem health and changes due to defoliation events from the Tamarisk leaf beetle, Diorhabda Spp. End users may currently identify and search twenty years of data for their areas of interest from Hoover Dam into the delta in Mexico. The searchable online system is being expanded to include additional rivers, their uplands and even the non-riverine borderlands ecosystems, with the main purpose being to evaluate trends in the landscape. These dryland ecosystems have been resilient despite myriad pressures related to drought, and other anthropogenic changes. The Data Explorer provides interactive access to greenness, phenology and water use riparian-zone, time-series information including plotting tools for remotely sensed measurements of vegetation index (VI), daily evapotranspiration (ET, mmd-1) and annualized ET (mmyr-1). These data are provided at two spatial resolutions: 250m Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and 30m Landsat Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI2), as well as the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) for comparison with older studies that use NDVI instead of the current EVI2. In order for our research and outreach to evolve and become a fully functional and an operational service for scientists, land, water, cultural, and resource managers, and the general public, the Data Explorer requires: a) adequate data storage, b) processing resources, c) web and tool developer time, and d) long-term hosting. This Data Explorer provides integrated data delivery and decision support; it was developed with a modular design so it can accept new data and models as they are developed and is responsive to stakeholder needs for updated information.  
    Observed and Projected Climate Changes in the Western and Southwestern United States
    Gregg Garfin1*
    1Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center, Tucson, Arizona, USA;
    Human caused changes to the earth’s climate system are already affecting the climate of the western United States. The most obvious direct observed changes include increased average and extreme temperatures, with increases in the number of extremely hot days and decreases in the number of very cold nights. Increased temperatures have led to a variety of indirect effects on the climate of the region, including decreases in spring snowpack, reduced snow water content, earlier snowmelt runoff in many parts of the region, and an increase in the fraction of winter and early spring precipitation falling as rain rather than snow, in some parts of the region. These hydrological changes, along with reduced soil moisture, at least partly attributed to regional warming trends, affect surface and groundwater hydrology. Recent studies have summarized some of these changes with memorable phrases, such as “warm snow drought,” and “reduced runoff efficiency.” Drought has been a signature impact across the region for millennia, due to the region’s geography and topography. While the most severe and sustained droughts in the region are recorded in proxy records, such as tree-rings, in the period before instrument observations, in recent decades human-caused climate changes have exacerbated hydroclimatic impacts of drought—intensifying the severity of the most recent drought period in southwestern North America. The region is also characterized by high year-to-year and multi-decade precipitation variability. Other regional natural resources and ecosystem impacts related to these factors include decreased surface water reliability, forest mortality, expanded wildfire seasons, and wildlife population stress and mortality episodes.
    Given assumptions of continued high rates of greenhouse gas emissions, climate models confidently project further increases in temperature, which will amplify changes to snow hydrology, including an increase in the average lowest elevation at which snow falls (which will reduce water storage in the snowpack, particularly at elevations which are now on the margins of reliable snowpack accumulation), earlier snowmelt and timing of runoff, and less snow-covered area. Temperature and snow-related changes have implications for streamflow and stream temperatures—warmer streams, less snowfall, and changes to snowmelt timing all have important knock-on effects in riparian areas. Models project increased annual average precipitation for the northern part of the western U.S. and decreased annual average precipitation in the southern part of the western U.S., due to projected alterations of the atmospheric circulation patterns responsible for guiding winter and spring storm tracks. Models project increases in extreme precipitation events, due to increases in the atmospheric water vapor generated over warmer ocean source regions.
    Although projections of future precipitation totals are accompanied by much uncertainty, increased temperatures will increase the risks of more severe drought, greater regional aridity (especially in the Southwest) and increased wildfire occurrence and severity. Environmental consequences of these changes will depend on management actions and adaptations a variable and more extreme future climate.


    Developing a Land Suitability Analysis for Green Infrastructure Placement in Ambos Nogales
    Alma Anides Morales1*, Francisco Lara-Valencia2, Margaret Garcia2, and Laura Norman3
    1University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA,
    2Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ, USA,,
    3 U.S. Geological Survey Tucson, AZ, USA,
    The sister border cities of Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora, collectively known as Ambos Nogales, experience stormwater runoff challenges that result in public health risks, degradation of water quality, and economic losses. In response, green infrastructure (GI) strategies are being implemented to achieve sustainable flood management.  In addition to helping to address the binational flooding that occurs in downtown Ambos Nogales, the coupling of urban planning and watershed modelling, uses vegetation and design to restore natural systems and create healthy urban environments. Binational partners, funded by the North American Development Bank, are pooling their collective skillsets to determine optimal locations for GI solutions on both sides of the border. A land suitability analysis (LSA) is being conducted which considers three overarching categories: flood mitigation, watershed protection, and green space opportunities. Input data for the selected factors include binational soil and vegetation layers, geospatial data for each city, Digital Elevation Models (DEM), hydrologic outputs from the KINEmatic Runoff and EROsion model (KINEROS2), and qualitative input from stakeholder interviews highlighting frequently flooded locations. We are developing a composite index for each of the three categories, and when combined will result in an LSA index that ranks locations based on their suitability for maximizing GI benefits. Best suited areas will then be compared with locations identified by landscape architecture specialists. The GI designs conceptualized will then be assessed for their potential impacts with KINEROS2. It is expected the LSA will help guide and validate final recommendations for a GI binational network. This is part of a larger effort led by a U.S.-Mexico team of researchers working to support sustainable urban stormwater management practices and create recreational opportunities, preserve water quality and wildlife habitat in Ambos Nogales.
    Wet Meadow Restoration in Gunnison Sage-Grouse Habitat Along the Gould Reservoir
    Cassandra Shenk1*, Jake Hartter2
    1ERO Resources Corporation, Hotchkiss, CO, US;
    2Western Slope Conservation Center, Paonia, CO, US;
    Fruitland Irrigation Company (FIC) has installed a riparian restoration project, to replace wetland and riparian habitat lost due to piping open canal and tunnels in or near Gunnison sage-grouse habitat along Fruitland Mesa south west of Crawford, CO.  The restoration site is an unnamed tributary to Iron Creek at the inlet of the Gould Reservoir, in unoccupied Gunnison sage-grouse habitat at the transition zone between high shrubland and Pinyon-Juniper habitat.  Techniques used to restore the site include installation of one-rock dams and log structures (e.g., “Zeedyke structures”), managed grazing, Tamarisk removal, and riparian plantings.  Successes and challenges will be discussed, including partnerships and community collaboration.  As irrigation piping projects become more common along Colorado’s western slope, wildlife habitat site mitigation is increasingly important.
    Major take-aways:
    • Recommended shrubs, forbes, and watering regime for wet meadow restoration in mid to high elevation semi-arid environments
    • Zeedyke structure types and installation methods
    • Community engagement tips
    • Habitat mitigation requirements for Salinity Control Program-funded piping projects are creating a number of habitat sites in the North Fork of the Gunnison River valley
    Cover of Tamarix Covaries With Regional and Local Environmental Factors To Explain The Functional Composition Of Riparian Plant Communities
    Annie Henry1*, Eduardo González2, Bérenger Bourgeois3, Anna Sher 1
    1 University of Denver, Department of Biological Sciences, Denver, CO USA
    2 Colorado State University, Department of Biology, Fort Collins, CO USA
    3 Department of Plant Sciences, Université Laval, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
    In the southwestern U.S., Tamarix has become an inextricable part of the landscape. While removal has been a priority for decades and Diorhabda biocontrol agent continues to expand, studies reporting vegetation response to Tamarix control have focused on species-based approaches. Understanding the functional composition of plant communities sheds light on the mechanisms of change in response to species invasion as well as subsequent removal. This study employs functional diversity metrics as well as guilds - suites of species with similar traits - to assess the influence of Tamarix cover on the functional composition of riparian plant communities in the southwestern United States. We asked: 1) What traits define riparian plant guilds? 2) How do the abundances of each guild vary along a gradient of Tamarix cover and abiotic conditions? 3) How does the functional diversity of the plant community respond to the combined gradient of Tamarix cover and abiotic conditions? We found nine distinct clusters primarily defined by reproductive strategy, as well as height, seed weight, specific leaf area, drought and anaerobic tolerance. Guild abundance varied along a covarying gradient of local and regional environmental factors and Tamarix cover. Guilds focused on sexual reproduction, i.e., producing many light seeds over a long period of time were more strongly associated with drier sites and higher Tamarix cover. Tamarix itself facilitated more shade tolerant species with higher specific leaf areas than would be expected in resource poor environments. Additionally, we found a high degree of specialization in wetter, more flood prone, low Tamarix cover sites as well as in drier, more stable, high Tamarix cover sites. These guilds can be referred to when anticipating plant community response to restoration efforts and in selecting appropriate species for revegetation. 
    Preparing the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher for the Tamarisk Leaf Beetle in the Middle Rio Grande, NM 
    Ondrea Hummel1*, Joe Schroeder1
    1 Tetra Tech, Albuquerque, NM, USA;, 
    Tamarisk (Tamarix spp.; aka saltcedar) is an invasive shrub that has become a major nesting substrate for the federally endangered Southwestern Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus; flycatcher) [1]. The tamarisk leaf beetle (Diorhabda spp; TLB) is an introduced biocontrol agent which feeds on tamarisk, triggering defoliation events. Defoliation of tamarisk during the flycatcher nesting season (May – July) decreases nesting success by exposing flycatcher eggs and nestlings to potentially lethal temperatures from direct sunlight and increasing nest parasitism. 
    Tetra Tech was contracted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop a spatial model to identify priority areas for flycatcher habitat restoration in the Middle Rio Grande. Tetra Tech’s Albuquerque Office Environmental Team integrated their collective experience in ecological restoration, stream engineering, GIS and remote sensing applications, and flycatcher habitat relationships to develop a flycatcher habitat restoration siting model which, in combination with field investigations, was used to identify the top 0.5% of potential flycatcher habitat restoration opportunities within the Middle Rio Grande.
    The flycatcher habitat restoration siting model provides a timely solution for flycatcher conservation in the form of a siting tool that can be used to efficiently allocate funding for flycatcher habitat creation within the Middle Rio Grande. 
    [1] More than 50% of flycatcher nests in the Middle Rio Grande, NM, have been documented in tamarisk since 2011 (Moore and Ahlers 2017).
  • Results of 17 years of monitoring at the Los Lunas Habitat Restoration Site, New Mexico
    Rebecca Siegle1, David Moore1*, and Tori Barron1*
    1Bureau of Reclamation Technical Service Center, Denver, CO
    Riparian forests are an important ecosystem in the Desert Southwest.  Within the region, seventy percent of threatened or endangered species are considered riparian obligates and the destruction of riparian habitats has been responsible for the decline of many imperiled species.  Within the Middle Rio Grande, the federally endangered southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus - SWFL) is a focal species that has suffered population declines due to reductions in native riparian habitat quantity and quality.  The Los Lunas Restoration Site (LLRS) was constructed in response to a 2001 Biological Opinion and designed to provide habitat for both the SWFL and the federally endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow (Hybognathus amarus).  Designs included partial clearing, bank lowering, tree planting and installation of side channels to provide habitat for both species.  In 2003, monitoring of groundwater and the avian and vegetation communities within the site was initiated by Technical Service Center personnel.  Objectives included determining the success of restoring a productive native riparian community and assessing its suitability for breeding SWFLs.  The western yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus - YBCU), federally listed in 2014, was added to this assessment later in the study.  Following 17 years of monitoring, evaluation criteria for the LLRS determined that riparian restoration has been successful.  Plant species composition in both overstory and understory, promoted by a shallow water table, is dominated by native wetland plants.  Exotic species comprise a small percentage of overall vegetative cover.  A diverse bird population with an increasing abundance of mid-story species has developed.  However, LLRS vegetation data have not been comparable to occupied SWFL sites and occupation by breeding SWFLs or YBCUs has not been documented within LLRS. The site does show potential for YBCU habitat, therefore further monitoring, while currently not planned, is recommended.
    Riparian Habitat & Wildlife: What’s Mycorrhizae Got To Do With It?
    Lisa Markovchick*1, Catherine A. Gehring1, Jose Ignacio Querejeta2, Abril Belgara-Andrew1, James Tracey3 and Thomas G. Whitham1
    1Department of Biological Sciences and Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, U.S.A.;;
    2Soil and Water Conservation Research Group, Spanish National Research Council, CEBAS-CSIC, PO Box 164, 30100 Murcia, Spain.
    3Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, 77843, U.S.A.
    Mycorrhizal fungi inhabit plant roots, and are known to improve plant survival and resiliency in the face of diverse kinds of stressors from drought to pests. Yet, these fungi are often degraded by disturbance and not intentionally restored in tandem with native vegetation – a concerning gap given the increased need for plant resiliency under increasing extreme weather events. Using a foundational riparian tree, we investigate the consequences of degraded mycorrhizal communities on plant survival, growth and resilience. Using both a common garden field experiment and a greenhouse experiment, we tested the impacts of: 1) contrasting sources of native cottonwood trees (Populus fremontii) used in restoration, 2) mycorrhizal communities degraded by a history of tamarisk invasion (Tamarix spp.), 3) and restoration of native mycorrhizal communities concurrent with native plantings. We examine the impacts of these factors and their interactions on native tree survival, growth, photosynthesis, and water use. Critically, it appears that a legacy of tamarisk invasion decreases plant water use efficiency, an effect counteracted by the restoration of native mycorrhizal fungal communities.  Additionally, these effects interact with the source of the native trees used in restoration. We discuss the implications for how unseen mycorrhizal communities are affecting plant survival, growth, and physiological strategies, impacting their ability to provide the necessary canopy cover, cooling, and other requirements for native wildlife such as the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax trailii extimus; SWFL).



    Climate Services for Climate-Adapted Stream Restoration
    Sarah LeRoy1*
    1University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA;
    Climate change is dramatically impacting temperatures and precipitation patterns around the globe with cascading impacts on many natural resource processes. The flow regimes of streams of dryland regions are being particularly impacted. For practitioners working to restore stream conditions, the impacts of climate change on stream processes can reduce the effectiveness of restoration tactics and make restoration objectives more difficult (if not impossible) to achieve. Therefore, to improve likelihood for success and long-term viability of stream restoration efforts, practitioners need to develop climate-adapted restoration responses that are based on a sound understanding of what climate change means in the region where the stream restoration effort is taking place. To accomplish this, practitioners need rigorous climate data and information, such as projections of temperature and precipitation for their study region, and an understanding of how to interpret the data. Today, there are many agencies and organizations involved in gathering, analyzing, and distributing climatic data, projections, and information to the public and decision-makers. These groups are referred to as climate services, and in recent years the number of these groups has increased dramatically. In this presentation, I will review climate services in the U.S. and northern Mexico, and also discuss other sources of climate data and information that are available to assist stream practitioners in developing effective climate-adapted restoration responses.


    Rivers as Economic Engines
    Fay Hartman1
    1Conservation Director, Colorado River Basin Program, American Rivers, Washington, DC and Denver, CO, 616-990-0049;   
    Fay will present findings from American Rivers’ report “Rivers as Economic Engines.” She will talk about how public investments in natural infrastructure, river restoration and healthy rivers can create jobs, strengthen local communities, improve public health, and address longstanding injustices and harm caused by a long-term lacRivers as Economic Enginesk of investment in Black, Indigenous, Latino, and low-income communities. Fay will talk about the importance of public funding for healthy rivers and restoration projects in Colorado and beyond. She will discuss different types of public funding and examples of where communities have come together to develop and raise public funds for river health and restoration projects. Attendees will learn about economic information related to natural infrastructure, river restoration and watershed health and the importance of public funding for river health and ways communities can build and leverage public funding.
    Developing Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Habitat and Ranking Metrics at
    Multiple Scales with a Satellite Model
    James R. Hatten1*, Matthew J. Johnson2, and Jennifer A. Holmes3
    1U.S. Geological Survey, Western Fisheries Research Center, Seattle, WA, USA;
    2Northern Arizona University, Colorado Plateau Research Station, Flagstaff, AZ, USA;
    3Northern Arizona University, Colorado Plateau Research Station, Flagstaff, AZ, USA;
    Southwestern Willow Flycatcher (SWFL) habitat metrics are important for discovery surveys, ranking and prioritizing reaches for restoration and enhancement activities, conducting change detection, and performing basin-scale planning.  Toward that end, the SWFL satellite model was used to generate a suite of variables at multiple scales in the upper Gila River Basin to characterize stability, heterogeneity, and area of predicted habitat. An approach to reach-scale habitat ranking was developed and applied to the upper Gila River Basin, prioritizing river reaches for discovery surveys, restoration and enhancement activities, change detection, and basin-scale planning. Model verification was performed with SWFL territories collected between 2016 and 2019 on the upper Gila River.
  • As Executive Director, Dan Gibbs leads the development and execution of the Department’s initiatives for the balanced management of the state’s natural resources. Dan works on an array of issues pertaining to all of Colorado’s natural resources, including water, wildlife, state lands, oil and gas and mining.
    Dan is a respected collaborator and a strong proponent of building partnerships across agencies, nonprofits and private-sector organizations to improve the productivity and success of government operations and services.
    Prior to joining the Department of Natural Resources, Dan served as a Summit County Commissioner from 2010-2018. As county commissioner, Dan successfully pushed for wildfire preparedness, affordable workforce housing, lower health insurance costs and protection and improvements to transportation infrastructure.
    Prior to his tenure as a Commissioner, Dan served in the Colorado House of Representatives and in the Colorado State Senate where he served on the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. His legislative accomplishments include securing funding for wildfire mitigation and forest health, creating the Colorado Kids Outdoors grant program, supporting watershed health initiatives, and increasing environmental protections for wildlife from oil and gas development.
    Dan is a certified wildland firefighter and is affiliated with the ROSS system, through which he is on call to fight wildfires throughout the United States. He chaired the statewide Wildland Fire and Prescribed Fire Matters Advisory Council, and represented county governments on the Forest Health Advisory Committee. Dan has served on a variety of civic boards including: Search and Rescue Advisory, Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus, Tourism Office, Youth Corps Association, Friends of the Dillon Ranger District and the Keystone Science School.
    Dan is a graduate of Western State Colorado University and completed the Harvard Kennedy School Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program. He is also a Marshall Memorial Fellow.
    Dan enjoys all that living in the high country has to offer, including skiing, running, mountain biking, hunting and fishing. He is a resident of Breckenridge, Colorado, where he lives with his family.
    Riparian Evaluation Monitoring: Utilizing Texas Stream Citizen Science to Evaluate Riparian Health
    Aspen Navarro1
    1The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment – Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas, United States;
    In collaboration with the Nueces River Authority, The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment’s Texas Stream Team Citizen Science program established a Riparian Evaluation Citizen Science Training to monitor for riparian health and potential hindrances. Citizen scientists trained in Riparian Evaluation capture georeferenced images and use the Riparian Bull’s-Eye Evaluation Tool to assess ten key indicators: Active Floodplain, Energy Dissipation, New Plant Colonization, Stabilizing Vegetation, Age Diversity, Species Diversity, Plant Vigor, Water Storage, Bank/Channel Erosion, and Sediment Deposition. Riparian Evaluation monitoring procedures are documented in a quality assurance project plan as this data may be supplemental to Texas Stream Team’s citizen science water quality data. Session attendees will learn about the Riparian Bull’s-Eye Evaluation Tool, quality control protocols that ensure consistent, quality data, and monitoring limitations to replicate riparian monitoring in their region.  
    Expanding the Southeast Aquatic Barrier Prioritization Tool:  Assessing Aquatic Fragmentation in the Western United States
    Kat Hoenke1*, Jessica Graham2, Brendan Ward3
    1 Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership, 2957 Kingsmark Ct, Abingdon, MD 21009;
    2 SARP; Brendan Ward
    3Conservation Biology Institute
    Fragmentation of river habitats by anthropogenic barriers is one of the primary threats to aquatic species in the United States. In an effort to address this issue, SARP has been working with partners including USFWS to identify, prioritize, and remove barriers to aquatic organisms in the Southeastern United States through the Southeast Aquatic Connectivity Program. SARP has developed a comprehensive living inventory of dams and road stream barriers, detailed metrics to prioritize these barriers for removal or bypass, and has been working with partners within state-based Aquatic Connectivity Teams to incorporate on the ground information and implement high priority barrier removal or remediation projects. Through working with the Conservation Biology Institute and Astute Spruce, SARP's inventory and prioritization has been optimized and formatted into a user-friendly interactive tool for use by partners. With funding from the US Fish and Wildlife Service Fish Passage Program, this inventory and tool will be expanded into an additional 10 western states over the next three years. The Southeast Aquatic Barrier Prioritization tool provides summaries of barrier densities within user specified areas of interest and allows users to prioritize barriers for removal based on ecological metrics using various filters. The results provided by the tool help identify high priority projects to implement and allow resource managers to access information regarding barrier locations and attributes that were not readily accessible in a one stop shop prior to SARP’s work. SARP is currently in the data collection phase for the expansion of this work into the west, and is actively looking for sources of data.


    Testing Methods to Improve Monitoring of Riparian Habitat Restoration Performance at Multiple Scales 
    Bruce Orr1*, Rafael Real de Asua2, Zooey Diggory3, Doug Titus4, Megan Keever5 
    1Stillwater Sciences, Berkeley, CA, USA; 
    2Stillwater Sciences, Berkeley, CA, USA; 
    3Valley Water, San Jose, CA, USA; 
    4Valley Water, San Jose, CA, USA; 
    5Stillwater Sciences, Berkeley, CA, USA; 
    Improving our ability to monitor the performance of mitigation and restoration projects (here loosely defined to include projects that may involve habitat creation, rehabilitation, enhancement, or true historical restoration) in an accurate and cost-effective manner is a critical need for effective conservation and adaptive management in river-riparian ecosystems throughout the western United States and beyond. We initiated a pilot study on the Guadalupe River (San Jose, CA) to compare standard field survey methods for monitoring vegetation with methods based on remote sensing data (multispectral imagery and LiDAR) for a variety of riparian habitat mitigation sites of varying ages (from recently implemented sites to some that are now over 20 years old) and sizes (from individual sites of a few acres on up to reach and river corridor scales that may cover 100s of acres or more). Aside from our general interest in exploring more cost-effective approaches that combine field data collection with remote sensing to assess performance metrics, this pilot project was motivated by challenges associated with the pandemic that prevented access to some sites that were required to be monitored in 2020. 
    Given the various objectives for the long-term monitoring program, the focus of the pilot study was on testing and comparing methods for monitoring changes in shaded riverine habitat (aquatic habitat shaded by overhead riparian vegetation) and riparian vegetation and habitat (e.g., plant cover, canopy height, and vertical vegetation structure that affects habitat suitability for key focal species). In addition, we are exploring the ability of high-resolution aerial LiDAR to detect ground disturbance, and artificial structures associated human recreational use and encampments. We will discuss our preliminary findings and ideas regarding the costs and benefits associated with field surveys and remote sensing, with the goal of finding more optimal combinations of both approaches for monitoring at various spatial and temporal scales. 
    The Escalante River: Sustaining hard-won restoration in a warmer and drier future
    Michael L. Scott1, 2
    1Coordinating Committee, Escalante River Watershed Partnership, Escalante, UT
    2Adjunct Faculty, Department of Geosciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
    The Escalante River channel and floodplain have a six-thousand-year history of dramatic ecological state changes associated with arroyo cut and fill cycles, driven largely by shifts in climate. Within this broader context, a recent and widespread invasion of the non-native tree, Russian olive, along the Escalante River, altered geomorphic and ecological processes as well as aesthetic qualities. Embedded within a landscape of intricate complexity and world class beauty, the Escalante River attracts visitors from across the globe. Thus, the Russian olive invasion prompted an ambitious, decade-long restoration effort by Grand Staircase Escalante Partners and the Escalante River Watershed Partnership, to remove established Russian olive, prevent re-invasion, and thus restore channel and floodplain processes that sustain native riparian vegetation. There is evidence suggesting exponential expansion of Russian olive along the Escalante was triggered by floods, which ushered in an extended, regional wet period. Given the climate-sensitivity of large-scale geomorphic processes and possible climate connections to plant invasions, on-going and predicted climate warming are concerning to local resource managers and human communities. Local historical climate records show a steady average annual temperature increase of +1.7o C, beginning in the 1970s, compared against the 100-year average, with no obvious trends in precipitation over the same period. Further, downscaled model projections for the watershed predict an additional 1.7o C increase in average annual temperature with no significant change in precipitation within the next 20 years; with or without attempts to mitigate CO2 emissions. Such changes raise questions on how well conservation objectives and tactics in the Escalante watershed are adapted to projected warmer and drier conditions. Specific questions in this regard include: 1) how are large-scale channel and floodplain processes likely to change? 2) will non-native plant invasion processes change or escalate? 3) with increasing water scarcity, how do we balance human community needs against those of water-dependent ecosystems?
  • Goats as Method of Control at Saint Vrain State Park
    Haley Stratton1*, Tamara Keefe2*
    1 Felsburg Holt & Ullevig (FHU), Centennial, Colorado, United States of America;
    2 Felsburg Holt & Ullevig (FHU), Centennial, Colorado, United States of America;
    Saint Vrain State Park, located in the Town of Firestone, in Weld County, is the host to a wetland site constructed to mitigate for impacts from associated CDOT improvement projects. The 6-year-old mitigation site has had an adaptive management plan in place for the last year in hopes of achieving the required maximum 20% of non-native species cover as well as the required 6.92 acres of enhancement. With drone imagery taken before, during, and after weed control measures, the presentation will be full of imagery describing the success of using goats as a weed control method.  Since 2016, a yearly site assessment and monitoring report have provided helpful data on the success of the innovative weed control process. 
    Pine Gulch Fire Impacts and the Work that Goes into Suppression, Repair, and Restoration
    Kevin Hyatt1, Erin Kowalski1, and Marlin Deras1
    Bureau of Land Management
    Fire in the ecosystem is a natural process that bring changes to landscapes and ecosystems. When fire occurs, suppression actions also have impacts that can lead to changes. In this video, staff from the Grand Junction Field Office Bureau of Land Management (GJFO), discuss the Pine Gulch Fire. Topics include pre-fire condition, fire activity, fire burn severity, suppression activities, impacts to the landscape and riparian areas, suppression repair, and restoration. 
    The Pine Gulch Fire started on July 31st and burned 138,642 acres. Manual, mechanical, and arial fire fighting tactics were used to help bring the fire under control nearly two months later. The fire burned through timber, shrublands, grasslands, and riparian areas. Resource Specialists from the GJFO provide information during the fire to help reduce impact to resources such as riparian areas. Additionally, Resources Specialists develop a suppression repair plan and restoration plans. A Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team helps provide an assessment of values at risk (VAR) and provides an emergency stabilization plan. These three plans help protect and restore ecosystems and protect VARs. 
      The Middle Rio Grande Farm and River Resilience Program
    Adrian Oglesby1*, Paul Tashjian2*
    1UNM Utton Transboundary Resources Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico,
    2Audubon New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico,
    Audubon New Mexico and the Utton Transboundary Resources Center at the University of New Mexico are helping the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District develop an innovative new farm and river conservation program.   This comprehensive effort aims to increase the resilience of both the Middle Rio Grande ecosystem and the 65,000 acres of farmland it supports in the face of increasingly variable water supplies.  This effort aims to benefit farmers by advancing efficient water delivery and use, thus increasing the dependability of water supply for sustainable agriculture, endangered species compliance, and our rare Bosque and riverine habitat.  A guiding principle for this effort is that sustaining healthy agriculture in the Middle Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico is crucial to maintaining a healthy river ecosystem.
    This presentation will highlight the tools and activities that are being used or are under consideration for implementation, which include:
    • Water delivery system efficiency improvements;
    • On-farm irrigation efficiency improvements;
    • Improvement to irrigation scheduling and water delivery practices;
    • Technical and financial resources to support productive agriculture and efficient water use;
    • Voluntary water leasing within the Middle Rio Grande to promote innovative and successful farming, ecosystem health and species conservation; and,
    • Habitat restoration and development to improve effectiveness of species conservation at locations associated with leased water returns to the river; and,
    • Design and installation of irrigation infrastructure to allow for i additional connections back to the river.
    In its first year of pilot implementation this program has resulted in the development of split season leasing protocols, late season leases of 260 acres, delivery of leased water through the irrigation system to key habitat sites along and in the river, and restoration designs for these locations to ensure optimal habitat during drought conditions. The restoration of these key delivery points from the irrigation system back to the river will ensure that minimal water delivery to the river during severe drought will have maximum conservation benefit. 
    The Program is planning the expansion of water leasing options for 2021, which may include a full season option or multi-year options.  All this is being conducted under the specter of record drought conditions and increased annual drying in the watershed due to climate change, making this work both timely and essential.   
    How to Use the National River Recreation Database to Plan and Execute Research and Management Objectives
    James Major1*
    1 River Management Society, Flagstaff, Arizona, U.S.A.,
    This presentation will inform viewers of the status and trajectory of the National River Recreation Database, which is a central component of the National Rivers Project, maintained by the River Management Society. The National River Recreation Database is the only searchable geospatial national rivers database members of the public and river managers can use to shop, review, or analyze rivers by geographical location, river name, and managing agency.  Since 2013, River Management Society has been working with state and federal land managers, municipal water trail leaders, and non-profit organizations to develop a standard of data for a geospatial database of recreational river reaches, access points, and campgrounds. Visitors can search rivers by their designation as a water trail, whitewater, or federally protected Wild and Scenic River. The presentation will provide a detailed ‘tour’ of the database and offer experience working with components of the database to show how the geospatial and ‘attribute’ data are available to plan river trips and conduct river-related research or management assessments. The central focus of the tour will be on Bureau of Land Management managed Wild and Scenic Rivers in the West that are currently being added to the database and will be available in 2021. Attendees will learn how the database can be used beyond recreational purposes to pursue management and research objectives, both in the field and in the lab or office.
    Strategies, Tools, and Methodologies for Effective Regional-scale Climate Adaptation
    Katharine Hayhoe1,2,3
    1 Climate Center, Texas Tech University, Lubbock TX 79409
    2 Dept. of Political Science, Texas Tech University, Lubbock TX 79409
    3 ATMOS Research & Consulting, Lubbock TX 79490
    From managing ecosystems to allocating water, human planning is typically based on the assumption of stationarity: that the long-term average conditions and the highs and the lows observed in the past are reliable predictors of future conditions. Today, however, climate is no longer stationary; and as a result, we need to look to the future as well as the past to ensure we’re making robust decisions that prepare for and adapt to the changes we’re already seeing today as well as those anticipated in the future. Historical observations, global climate model output, future scenarios and high-resolution downscaled projections can all provide valuable insight into resilience planning. In this presentation, I will briefly introduce the various tools and methodologies available to understand future climate change and describe a helpful decision tree approach to identifying the most relevant and useful information for any given watershed, project, or goal.
    The One Riverfront Commission
    Dave Bastian*, First Last Name 2, and First Last Name 3
    1One Riverfront Commission, Grand Junction, CO; 
    One Riverfront has a long history and has achieved some impressive feats since its creation. This poster will explain the history, mission and goals of One Riverfront and our role in the collaborative effort to foster community stewardship and enhance the Colorado and Gunnison River corridors. We will share some facts of the Colorado Riverfront Trail System and some of the things we have accomplished in thirty-plus years of all-volunteer work.
    Oasis in the Desert: A Showcase of Collaborative Restoration along Wild and Scenic Fossil Creek, Arizona
    Elaine Nichols1*, Tracy Stephens2, and Nancy Steele3
    1Friends of the Verde River, Cottonwood, AZ, USA;
    2Friends of the Verde River, Cottonwood, AZ, USA;
    3Friends of the Verde River, Cottonwood, AZ, USA;
    The Verde Watershed Restoration Coalition (VWRC) is a multi-stakeholder group made up of federal, tribal, and state agencies, private landowners, corporations, and non-profit organizations working together on a watershed-scale initiative to manage invasive plants and restore habitat. Since the inception of VWRC in 2009, Friends of the Verde River and VWRC partners have conducted habitat restoration projects on over 40 miles of streamside habitat on both public and private lands. This presentation will showcase watershed restoration work completed by a multi-stakeholder group along Wild and Scenic Fossil Creek in Arizona. Fossil Creek is a heavily used recreation area with lush riparian habitat. Field crews focus on treating four primary woody invasive species: saltcedar (Tamarix spp.), giant reed (Arundo donax), tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima), and Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia). Additional projects include vegetation monitoring, erosion control measures, human waste management, and trail improvement. This presentation will discuss the challenges that arise when implementing watershed improvement projects in remote, high-use areas, and adjacent wilderness.
    Visualizing Community Input for Yampa River Management Planning
    Nicole Seltzer1* and David Groves2*
    1 River Network
    2 RAND Corporation
    In 2019, the Yampa White Green Basin Roundtable began an Integrated Water Management Plan for the Yampa River basin in northwest Colorado.  The goal is to combine community input with science and engineering assessments to identify actions to protect existing and future water uses and support healthy river ecosystems in the face of growing populations, changing land uses, and climate uncertainty.  To initiate a two-way conversation with basin residents, a team of local non-profit organizations spent a year surveying and interviewing more than 150 irrigators, municipal/industrial water users and environmental/recreational stakeholders.  This presentation will follow the (sometimes messy) journey we followed from developing consistent interview templates to coding the data for consistency to analyzing it in Tableau software to the Advisory Committee’s consideration of what the data says and what we should do about it. We will reflect on the benefits and challenges of this approach, and provide recommendations for those who want to try it in their watershed.
    Applied Remote Sensing in the Middle Rio Grande
    Chris Sanderson1*, Ondrea Hummel1
    1 Tetra Tech, Albuquerque, NM, USA;,
    Riparian ecosystem disturbance occurring at broad temporal and spatial scales must be examined on a landscape-scale to evaluate the magnitude and character change. Over the past century the overall quality of riparian habitats in the Middle Rio Grande have been negatively impacted by several anthropogenic factors and more recently by the introduction of the tamarisk leaf beetle (Diorhabda spp., TLB) as a biological control agent to suppress tamarisk (Tamarix spp.). Ongoing TLB defoliation has resulted in reduced vegetative cover and novel fire behavior in riparian areas, which has negatively impacted Southwestern Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) (flycatcher) breeding and nesting habitat.
    The use of remote sensing (RS) and vegetation indices is ideally suited to monitor landscape-scale ecosystem change related to the photosynthetic process and primary production, growth patterns, and the extent and severity of fire events. For example, the range and timing of Diorhabda defoliation or the extent and severity of fire is difficult to track and analyze from the ground but can be rapidly and repeatably characterized using RS techniques. We will present RS methods using Sentinel-2A, a moderate resolution earth observation data, and several RS outputs used to support field-based monitoring practices and habitat restoration analysis and planning. These methods have been developed to characterize target areas, understand spatial patterning and their underlying processes, prioritize field efforts, and quantify vegetation change over time.
    In the first case study, we will present RS techniques used to monitor tamarisk-dominated stands over a 3-year period, during which TLB became an established disturbance agent. The second case study will describe examples of RS techniques used to support post-fire habitat restoration planning in a 9,000-acre riparian context. Examples of burn area mapping and ground verification techniques using RS will be presented.


    Expanding our Knowledge on the Mitochondrial Genomes of the Tamarisk Leaf Beetles, Diorhabda spp.
    Payton Wills1*, Zeynep Ozsoy 2
    1 Department of Biological Sciences, Colorado Mesa University, Grand Junction, Colorado, USA;
    2 Department of Biological Sciences, Colorado Mesa University, Grand Junction, Colorado, USA;
    Tamarisk is an introduced, invasive plant species that has dominated the riverbeds across the Northern American continent since the 1800s. Tamarisk leaf beetles, Diorhabda spp, were introduced into these environments beginning in 2001 as a biological control agent to contain the spread of Tamarisk. There are currently four known and described species of the Diorhabda beetle in North America that originate from different regions of the world. The mitochondrial genomes of two of the species, Diorhabda carinata and Diorhabda carinulata, have been previously assembled using sequences from shot gun sequencing. Here we report the mitochondrial genomes of the remaining two species, Diorhabda sublineata and Diorhabda elongata, that are being assembled from Sanger sequencing data.
    Field Work In The Time Of COVID
    Dave Bastian1*, Sean Damitz2, and Brigit Eastep3
    1Canyon Country Youth Corps, Monticello, UT; 2Utah Conservation Corps/Logan, UT;  3Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative, Cedar City, UT;
    The COVID pandemic hit the United States and lockdowns began to roll across the country right at the time that many Conservation Corps were gearing up for their field season. In the case of Utah Corps programs, many of our participants were on site on March 16th when Utah began its COVID restrictions. Faced with sending members home or quickly figuring out ways to adapt, Utah Conservation Corps chose the latter.  We successfully navigated to a new normal, finding ways to engage in work while public lands were shut down, and collaborating with each other and national programs to come up with field protocols to keep our members, staff, and partners safe as they returned to public lands projects.
    Now, with one of the most challenging field seasons in our rear-view mirror, we can say we learned a quite a bit, made some correct moves, made many adjustments along the way, and emerged with a feeling that we can do it again once the 2021 field season begins. And we are not just going off of a gut feeling. We have some data to back it up.
    In this presentation, we will tell some stories, share some tips, and present the data in a way that will hopefully encourage others to continue this important work in what will likely be another tough field season to come.
    Fire Preparedness and Post Fire Reclamation within JMR-Colorado River State Park
    Pete Firmin1*
    1Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Grand Junction, CO. U.S.A.;
    Attendees will understand the complimentary roles of fire preparedness and habitat improvement functions as well as post-fire management considerations and reclamation efforts within James M. Robb-Colorado River State Park.  Attendees will understand the impact of fire on Riparian woodlands to include a specific discussion of fires impact on cottonwood trees (Pupulus deltoids) and resulting management decisions.  We will discuss the challenges and innovative solutions associated with post-fire reclamation to include integrated weed management and active or passive reclamation efforts.   How to integrate non-traditional partners in habitat improvement will also be discussed specifically as it relates to fuel reduction/defensible space in the wildland urban interface. 
    Mapping Perceived Social Values of Riparian Ecosystems: Case Study in Southeastern Arizona, USA
    Roy Petrakis 1*, Laura Norman 1, Oliver Lysaght 2,3, Benson Sherrouse 4, Darius Semmens 4, Kenneth Bagstad 4, Richard Pritzlaff 2,5
    1 U.S. Geological Survey, Western Geographic Science Center, 520 N. Park Avenue, Tucson, AZ, 85719, U.S.A.;,
    2 Borderlands Restoration Network, 1 School St., Patagonia, AZ 85624, U.S.A.;
    3 London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), University of London, London, England
    4 U.S. Geological Survey, Geosciences & Environmental Change Science Center, P.O. Box 25046, MS-980, Denver, CO 80225, U.S.A.;,,
    5 The Biophilia Foundation, 1201 Parson Island Road, Chester, MD 21619, U.S.A.;
    Landscapes being considered for future conservation or ecological restoration are often chosen based on biophysical attributes, without considering the preferences of local citizens. In an effort to identify ecosystem services to invest in and prioritize, we applied the Social Values for Ecosystem Services (SolVES) GIS-based model to map perceived social values based on results from a social survey and a selection of environmental variables within the Sonoita Creek watershed in southeastern Arizona. The social survey respondents were asked about their overall engagement with the landscape through questions regarding their familiarity and relationships with restoration, land use, and water. Additionally, the respondents were asked to rank a collection of social values (e.g., aesthetic, biological diversity, or life sustaining value) and to place points on a map in locations that identify their associations with the landscape. The locations of these points are linked with a collection of spatial environmental variables, including land use and distance from water channels. The SolVES model outputs spatially explicit representations of high and low social value across the landscape and portrays where and how respondents perceive value. High perceived social values were located particularly along primary and secondary riparian channels as well as larger water bodies throughout the watershed. This suggests that respondents of the survey highly value riparian areas and hydrologic ecosystem services. The highest-rated social values were, respectively, life sustaining services, biological diversity, and aesthetic value. These results can guide land managers in public engagement and stewardship and possible restoration objectives.
    The Impacts of the Tamarisk Beetle on Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Habitat on the Middle Rio Grande, NM
    Kristen Dillon1
    1 Bureau of Reclamation, Denver, CO
    The Rio Grande in New Mexico currently supports one of the largest breeding populations of the endangered Southwestern Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus; SWFL) in the United States. Approximately 300 SWFL breeding territories are documented on the Middle Rio Grande annually, and in recent years 75% of nests are constructed in salt cedar (Tamarix spp.). The tamarisk beetle (Diorhabda spp.) was first detected on the Rio Grande in 2012 and had expanded throughout the Middle Rio Grande river corridor by 2016. The Bureau of Reclamation began a photographic monitoring study of the impacts of beetle defoliation in occupied SWFL breeding habitat in 2015. The study employs hemispherical photography, landscape photography, and microclimate monitoring to document changes in SWFL habitat due to beetle defoliation. No defoliation was documented at the study sites in the first two years of the study. Severe defoliation was documented in 2017 and 2018, followed by two years without breeding season defoliation in 2019 and 2020.  Despite the lack of direct beetle impact in 2019 and 2020, landscape and hemispherical photography found an overall decline in vegetation health and canopy cover in some sites as a persistent result of multiple previous years of defoliation. Although canopy cover remained within the apparent range of natural variation observed in the study, the decline was sufficient to result in increased temperature and aridity of SWFL breeding habitat.
    Engaging the Whole Community in Restoration: Considerations for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Outdoor Stewardship
    David Fulton-Beale1, Jackie Curry2
    1Wildlands Restoration Volunteers, Longmont, Colorado, USA, 
    2Wildlands Restoration Volunteers, Longmont, Colorado, USA, 
    Wildlands Restoration Volunteers (WRV) is a nonprofit based on the Front Range of Colorado. Over the past 20 years, we have been working to engage volunteers in stewardship of public, protected, and ecologically significant lands across Colorado and beyond, and have grown to engage thousands of volunteers on over 150 projects each year.  In this presentation we will be sharing different techniques and actions WRV is taking to address barriers to outdoor recreation and restoration opportunities for underrepresented communities. As an organization, we are working on identifying and dismantling these barriers because we recognize that having a diverse volunteer community will strengthen and enrich our mission of building community and healing the land. While we do not have all of the answers, we will outline some of the steps we are taking to build a more inclusive community and our experience starting this process. We hope that we can help organizations learn from our experience and engage in this work in their communities. 
  • A Snapshot, Repeated; Riparian Vegetation Change in Response to Altered Flow Regimes and Geomorphology, San Juan River, SE Utah
    Cynthia Dott1*, Gary Gianniny2
    1Department of Biology - Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO, USA;
    2Department of Geosciences - Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO, USA;
    Western rivers, always highly variable in terms of hydrology and sedimentation, have experienced a tremendous amount of change during the last century.  The San Juan River in the Four Corners region of North America’s southwest is no exception, and its lower reaches above Lake Powell provide an opportunity to observe how variation in geomorphic setting, sediment dynamics and hydrology – due to damming and climate change – have driven changes in woody riparian vegetation (both native and non-native).  By using a combination of repeat photography, dendrochronology and plant community data, we can begin to tell the story of sequential waves of vegetation colonization that have occurred over this century of change. 
    There are several key changes we have observed in this system:
    • In the 1920s, very little vegetation existed in any portion of the river corridor, including wide alluvial reaches, due to scouring by huge floods in the 1890s, 1911, and 1927.  By the 1940s-50s cottonwood (Populus fremontii) and willow (Salix exigua) had begun to colonize portions of the alluvial floodplain, but in the bedrock canyons very little vegetation occurred other than sparse willow.
    • Beginning after the completion of Navajo Dam upstream in 1962, the braided alluvial channels began to narrow, islands stabilized with vegetation, and total abundance of riparian plants increased.  Zones of cottonwood at the rear, with tamarisk (Tamarix spp) and willow closer to the banks became established. 
    • In contrast, there is little evidence of channel narrowing or sediment accumulation in the bedrock canyons.  However, tamarisk and willow – but not cottonwood – colonized the river banks in many portions of the bedrock canyons beginning in the 1950s or 60s.
    • Tamarisk, once dominant in alluvial valleys and locally in bedrock canyons is now declining, at least in part due to the successful biocontrol of tamarisk leaf beetle (Diorhabda spp).
    • Russian olive (Eleagnus angustifolia) colonization occurred in the alluvial floodplain perhaps as early as the early 1960s (based on dendrochronology data), and they were certainly present by the early 1970s based on historic photographs.  By the 1990s Russian olive (RO) formed dense stands along the river banks in the alluvial valleys.  Since this time, RO has begun migrating downstream into the constrained bedrock canyons.  RO saplings are now observed in all reaches – regardless of geomorphic type - but can be hard to detect as young individuals because they grow up through the willow canopy, or in some cases form a low ground cover due to heavy browsing by beaver!
    • There is an astonishing increase in willow density and height in all reaches, but most notably on Lake Powell sediment that is now creating low, inset alluvial floodplains within the bedrock canyons below Slickhorn Gulch/above Clay Hills.  These areas also host Baccharis spp (seep willow), Phragmites (giant reed), and the invasive ravenna grass (Saccharum ravennae).
    It is important to remember that vegetation responds to changes not only in geomorphic setting, but also to changes in hydrology and disturbance.  The pre-dam conditions that once favored cottonwood and tamarisk colonization no longer exist for most of this portion of the San Juan River.  Instead, lower dam-release flows, the lack of high flow erosion, and decreased flows associate with multi-year drought favor coyote willow and Russian olive.  Based on changes observed in repeat photography and the abundance of RO saplings in all reaches of the river, we predict that without significant removal efforts Russian olive will achieve high densities throughout the canyons within the next 10-20 years.
    Restoration Economies: Tools for Valuing and Financing Restoration
    Molly Mugglestone1
    1 Business for Water Stewardship, Portland, OR; 
    Molly Mugglestone is the Director of Communications and Colorado Policy at Business for Water Stewardship, a project of the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. She will present their new report on the economic contributions of river-related recreation in Colorado and the importance of adequate flows and healthy habitat to the state's economic well being. BWS also works with corporate partners to help protect water supply and instream flows and Molly will discuss some of these examples and ways that corporate funding is one way to leverage other types of funding for river projects. Attendees will learn about new data related to the Colorado River's impact on the state of Colorado's economy and how corporations are leading the way in funding public/private partnerships on river restoration.
    Unlocking Private Capital to Finance Natural Infrastructure for Healthy Ecosystems and Resilient Communities
    Todd Gartner* and Lizzie Marsters*
    World Resources Institute, Washington, DC, USA;;
    With shrinking city, state, and philanthropic budgets – new financing mechanisms and unique partnerships are essential to increasing investment in land, water, and communities to build resilience, address climate change, and support more inclusive economic growth. The good news is that private capital can help address these funding gaps. And the opportunity to unlock private capital for nature has never looked better. With sustained low interest rates, the cost of borrowing for nature is cheap and the amount of committed investor capital for nature is ever-increasing.
    Natural infrastructure - like forests that offer water filtration services, wetlands that serve as flood protection, or coral reefs that protect people and property from storm-impacts - can deliver on investor expectations. They can boost portfolio resilience as an uncorrelated asset to traditional investments, deliver significant cost-savings and/or generate consistent returns, and serve as one of the most cost-effective strategies to mitigating climate change. Despite the suggested alignment between sustainable capital and natural infrastructure, there are too few projects that are investment-ready.
    The World Resources Institute’s presentation highlights two proven strategies to successfully access private capital for natural infrastructure, offering insights into the enabling conditions, key actors, and opportunities for replication to make projects bankable. The first case study examines the issuance of the first-ever green bond to protect forests for drinking water by Little Rock’s Central Arkansas Water and will highlight the benefits to municipalities and utilities for issuing ‘green’.  The second case study explores the Forest Resilience Bond, a disaster risk-reduction financial instrument that mobilizes private capital for forest restoration treatments. These two projects illustrate paths to achieving conservation outcomes and enhancing community resilience to climate change by accessing private capital. They serve as models to better prepare other natural infrastructure projects for bankability.
    Recovery of Salix following Tamarix removal
    Alexander Goetz1*, Ian Moffit1, Anna Sher1
    1 University of Denver, Department of Biological Sciences, Denver, CO 
    Removal of invasive Tamarix spp. in the American Southwest has had deleterious impacts on habitat availability for the endangered Southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax extimus trailii, abbr. SWFL), which nests readily in Tamarix when native Salix canopy is not present. Understanding the characteristics associated with Salix recovery can allow for more effective targeting of restoration efforts in the context of SWFL conservation. If we can identify conditions leading to more native vegetation cover as well as habitat protection for the SWFL, we can prioritize efforts more effectively and reduce conflict between conservation goals.  Using a multi-state dataset of Tamarix removal sites in three different watersheds, we ask the following questions: (1) Does removal of Tamarix lead to the establishment of Salix? (2) Which Tamarix removal methods have the best outcomes in terms of Salix cover? (3) What environmental conditions are required to implement a successful Salix restoration effort? We compiled data on vegetation response to Tamarix removal consisting of plant cover, soils, and geographic conditions in riparian areas of the American Southwest. In total, there were 243 sites where Tamarix had been subject to active removal and/or biocontrol and 172 reference sites. We examined total cover of all Salix species and separately analyzed only S. exigua, the most dominant species. We used two measures of Salix and S. exigua response to restoration: final year of cover and cover change over time. We used linear mixed models with backward stepwise selection to predict response of Salix cover to multiple environmental and restoration factors. In addition, we tested effects of individual independent variables on Salix cover, both final-year outcomes and change over time. Finally, we constructed mixed models to compare Salix cover change over time with Tamarix cover change over time, both overall and by removal method. We found that (1) while decreased Tamarix cover is associated with an increase in Salix, the increase does not compensate for the overall losses in canopy cover. (2) We did not find a significant difference in Salix cover among Tamarix removal methods or relative to negative reference sites; however, sites where herbicide was applied at any point had higher Salix cover. (3) We found significant impacts of several environmental characteristics including soil properties, distance to water, and initial Salix cover on Salix and S. exigua cover. Our data reflect the fact that Salix and Tamarix occupy distinct environmental niches. Our findings suggest that Tamarix removal does not necessarily lead to favorable outcomes for SWFL conservation but that outcomes can be improved by focusing on sites more likely to promote Salix growth based on environmental characteristics.

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