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Project Management

Project Management

  • This handbook is intended to advance the use of a “watershed approach” in the selection, 
    design, and siting of wetland and stream restoration and protection projects. Using a watershed 
    approach can help ensure that these projects also contribute to goals of improved water quality, 
    increased flood mitigation, improved quality and quantity of habitat, and increases in other 
    services and benefits that result from ecologically successful and sustainable restoration and 
    protection projects.
  • These resources, including a long-term management calculator, handbook, and factsheet are designed to help practitioners calculate how to budget for lasting conservation outcomes for restoration sites. 

  • This USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website provides info on weed risk assessments completed to date. They are provided for interested stakeholders and may be useful in setting local policies or for informing resource managers. 

  • Clark et al. 2020

    Coupled human and natural systems (CHANS) are frequently represented by large datasets with varied data including continuous, ordinal, and categorical variables. Conventional multivariate analyses cannot handle these mixed data types. In this paper, our goal was to show how a clustering method that has not before been applied to understanding the human dimension of CHANS: a Gower dissimilarity matrix with partitioning around medoids (PAM) can be used to treat mixed-type human datasets. A case study of land managers responsible for invasive plant control projects across rivers of the southwestern U.S. was used to characterize managers’ backgrounds and decisions, and project properties through clustering. Results showed that managers could be classified as “federal multitaskers” or as “educated specialists”. Decisions were characterized by being either “quick and active” or “thorough and careful”. Project goals were either comprehensive with ecological goals or more limited in scope. This study shows that clustering with Gower and PAM can simplify the complex human dimension of this system, demonstrating the utility of this approach for systems frequently composed of mixed-type data such as CHANS. This clustering approach can be used to direct scientific recommendations towards homogeneous groups of managers and project types.

  • The U.S. Geological Survey’s Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center convened a workshop June 23-25, 2015, in Flagstaff, Ariz. for practitioners in restoration science to share general principles, successful restoration practices, and discuss the challenges that face those practicing riparian restoration in the southwestern United States. Presenters from the Colorado River and the Rio Grande basins, offered their perspectives and experiences in restoration at the local, reach and watershed scale. Outcomes of the workshop include this Proceedings volume, which is composed of extended abstracts of most of the presentations given at the workshop, and recommendations or information needs identified by participants. The organization of the Proceedings follows a general progression from local scale restoration to river and watershed scale approaches, and finishes with restoration assessments and monitoring.
  • The goal of this lessons learned project is two-fold – to understand and capture the factors that have led to partnership successes and failures and memorialize those lessons and use them to inform how REW provides services and assistance to partnerships moving forward. Results of the lessons learned study describe key lessons learned regarding how well collaborative watershed partnerships worked together to achieve their goals as well as how well REW supported these collaborative efforts. 

  • Richard B Primack et al. 2021

    Abstract: The human aspect of conservation and restoration is implicit and widely considered in the literature. However, human traits are rarely if ever incorporated into models to explain actual quantitative measures of success or failure. A paper by Sher et al. recently published in a special issue of Wetlands filled this gap by exploring the impact of the characteristics of managers and managing organizations on restoration success among 243 sites where an invasive tree had been removed. Among the 15 human variables considered were how many agencies were involved in the project, the relative priority of particular goals, how intensive monitoring was, and what type of degree the manager had. Given that Sher et al. found that as much as 63% of the variability in restoration outcomes could be explained by such human factors alone, we argue that future studies seeking to understand conservation and restoration outcomes would do well to incorporate such variables in a more explicit way. Quantitative inclusion of the human element can expand our understanding of the processes at work and test theories regarding the importance of goal-setting and other often proposed recommendations about process and project organization. Given that to do so requires an interdisciplinary approach, we also make a case that greater integration between the social and natural sciences will improve our understanding of these systems and lead to better results.

  • Gonzalez et al. 2018

    Human activities on floodplains have severely disrupted the regeneration of foundation riparian shrub and tree species of the Salicaceae family (Populus and Salix spp.) throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Restoration ecologists initially tackled this problem from a terrestrial perspective that emphasized planting. More recently, floodplain restoration activities have embraced an aquatic perspective, inspired by the expanding practice of managing river flows to improve river health (environmental flows). However, riparian Salicaceae species occupy floodplain and riparian areas, which lie at the interface of both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems along watercourses. Thus, their regeneration depends on a complex interaction of hydrologic and geomorphic processes that have shaped key life-cycle requirements for seedling establishment. Ultimately, restoration needs to integrate these concepts to succeed. However, while regeneration of Salicaceae is now reasonably well-understood, the literature reporting restoration actions on Salicaceae regeneration is sparse, and a specific theoretical framework is still missing. Here, we have reviewed 105 peer-reviewed published experiences in restoration of Salicaceae forests, including 91 projects in 10 world regions, to construct a decision tree to inform restoration planning through explicit links between the well-studied biophysical requirements of Salicaceae regeneration and 17 specific restoration actions, the most popular being planting (in 55% of the projects), land contouring (30%), removal of competing vegetation (30%), site selection (26%), and irrigation (24%). We also identified research gaps related to Salicaceae forest restoration and discuss alternative, innovative and feasible approaches that incorporate the human component.

  • 2018 Dolores River Restoration Partnership Annual Report 

  • Burkardt and Thomas 2022

    Navigating the space between policy and on-the-ground natural resource management presents unique challenges. We interviewed 22 U.S. Bureau of Land Management Field Office Managers to understand their perceptions toward, and applications of, collaboration with public and private stakeholders. Interviews were transcribed and open-coded using qualitative data analysis software. Then, each interview was represented visually using the MaxQDA MaxMaps feature. We deductively coded each visual model and created a typology based on a mix of salient traits exhibited by each group. Differences emerged in each group’s approach to teaching and learning; communication style; attitude toward collaboration; attention to relational and substantive outcomes; and the ability to create space within the agency mission to achieve mutually beneficial goals. Findings can help agencies navigate the challenges associated with aligning agency directives with on-the-ground realities in different contexts when collaborators exhibit different traits.

    Broadly, this study provides insight into the field of multi-party collaboration in natural resource management. Federal agency personnel come to these processes with different backgrounds and experiences. While certain interpersonal competencies are important for successful processes, oftentimes technical or scientific background is the basis for hiring decisions. Therefore, it is critical that skill acquisition in collaboration is emphasized in professional development for public land managers. Because some decision arenas are more contentious than others, agencies could consider channeling enhanced support, such as resources for third-party facilitation, for collaborative skill building to areas of existing high conflict.

    Interest in improving collaborative processes for federal land management agencies is strong, and research about what factors contribute to balanced engagement in these processes is key to strengthening collaborative capacity at both individual and organizational levels. This research aims to shed light on components of this capacity and suggests ways that agencies can encourage and build a culture that supports development of skills to increase the likelihood of successful collaborative processes.

  • Sher et al. 2020

    We investigated the relative role of manager traits and decisions for explaining the impact of riparian restoration. To do this, we used the difference in vegetation between post-restoration and controls for 243 pairs of sites to create a success index. We then determined how much variability in success could be explained by physical variables that directly impact vegetation (environment and weed removal) versus human variables (characteristics of the people who managed those sites and their management decisions). More than 60% of the variability in vegetation change could be explained, with human variables increasing adjusted R-square values of physical-only models by an average of 47%. Restoration “success” was positively associated with an increase in the number of collaborators, the number of information sources used, and the relative priority of plant-related goals. Worse outcomes were associated with an increase in the number of roles the manager held, monitoring frequency, and with higher manager education level. These results point to the indirect impacts of the human element, and specifically supports recommendations to include multiple partners and set specific goals. To our knowledge, this is the first time the importance of human characteristics as drivers of restoration outcomes has been quantified.

  • Vegetation response to invasive Tamarix control in southwestern U.S. rivers: a collaborative study including 416 sites

    Gonzalez et al. 2017

    Most studies assessing vegetation response following control of invasive Tamarix trees along southwestern U.S. rivers have been small in scale (e.g., river reach), or at a regional scale but with poor spatial-temporal replication, and most have not included testing the effects of a now widely used biological control. We monitored plant composition following Tamarix control along hydrologic, soil, and climatic gradients in 244 treated and 172 reference sites across six U.S. states. This represents the largest comprehensive assessment to date on the vegetation response to the four most common Tamarix control treatments. Biocontrol by a defoliating beetle (treatment 1) reduced the abundance of Tamarix  less than active removal by mechanically using hand and chain-saws (2), heavy machinery (3) or burning (4). Tamarix abundance also decreased with lower temperatures, higher precipitation, and follow-up treatments or Tamarix  resprouting. Native cover generally increased over time in active Tamarix removal sites, however, the increases observed were small and was not consistently increased by active revegetation. Overall, native cover was correlated to permanent stream flow, lower grazing pressure, lower soil salinity and temperatures, and higher precipitation. Species diversity also increased where Tamarix was removed. However, Tamarix treatments, especially those generating the highest disturbance (burning and heavy machinery), also often promoted secondary invasions of exotic forbs. The abundance of hydrophytic species was much lower in treated than in reference sites, suggesting that management of southwestern U.S. rivers has focused too much on weed control, overlooking restoration of fluvial processes that provide habitat for hydrophytic and floodplain vegetation. These results can help inform future management of Tamarix-infested rivers to restore hydrogeomorphic processes, increase native biodiversity and reduce abundance of noxious species.

    Key words: Diorhabda; exotic species control; management

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