Abstract: Closing Plenary Session  8:30 am (BACK)

Stream Restoration during Times of Rapid Environmental Change: Solving One Problem while Preparing for the Next

Jack E. Williams
Trout Unlimited,
Medford, OR

Stream conditions are increasingly being driven by environmental disturbances such as wildfires, droughts, and floods.  This is especially true in the American Southwest, where rapid climate change appears linked to more frequent and intense disturbance events.  There are both ecological and social implications from increased disturbances.  From an ecological perspective, the effects of these disturbances can be either magnified or ameliorated depending on the condition of streams, adjacent riparian areas, and surrounding watershed prior to the disturbance.   Therefore, if restoration efforts are to achieve their desired ecological benefits in the long run, they must incorporate the preventative concepts of resistance and resiliency to rapid environmental change in their design and implementation.   Wildfires, droughts, and floods also impact human communities and may cause agencies to implement emergency fixes that are not consistent with stream restoration objectives or health of the natural system.  This suggests that restoration practitioners need to work in advance with local and state agencies to ensure that their responses to disturbances are designed to work with natural stream functions rather than against them.  Special attention must be paid to riparian areas, wetlands and floodplains and their connections with stream systems.   Climate change is likely to become a more frequent driver of environmental change in the future.  Successful restoration practitioners therefore will increasingly need to prepare for the next round of environmental change while addressing current problems.