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2022 Conference

2022 Conference

  • Weather, Climate, and Climate Change in Colorado
     
    Russ Schumacher1
     
    1Colorado Climate Center and Colorado State Climatologist, Fort Collins, CO, USA
     
    Western Colorado has a fascinating and highly variable climate, from the snowy mountain ranges that collect and store the water for millions of people, to the warm, dry valleys with meandering rivers that support agriculture, recreation, and more. It is also one of the fastest-warming regions of the US, and climate change is already causing noticeable effects on water resources in the west. This presentation will provide an overview of western Colorado’s weather and climate, a look the changes that have already been observed and projections for the future, and some data sources and tools that can be used to further explore what is happening in the region.
  • Tracing the Monitoring and Evaluation of Tamarix Control and its Outcomes in the American Southwest: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
     
    Alexander R. B. Goetz,1* Eduardo González,2 Mayra C. Vidal,3 Patrick Shafroth,4 Annie L. Henry,1 Anna A. Sher1
     
    1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Denver, Denver, CO, USA; alexander.goetz23@du.edu
    2Department of Biology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
    3Department of Biology, University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, MA, USA
    4Fort Collins Science Center, United States Geological Survey, Fort Collins, CO, USA
     
    Control of invasive Tamarix spp. and associated riparian restoration in the American Southwest has been of great interest to scientists and resource managers for decades. Hundreds of studies have reported highly variable outcomes of Tamarix control efforts, as measured by a range of response variables, temporal and spatial scales, and monitoring strategies. We conducted a literature search, quantitative meta-analysis, and vote count on published papers that quantitatively measured a variety of responses to removal of Tamarix. From 1206 publications obtained through a global search on terms related to Tamarix removal, we filtered/selected 54 and 68 for a quantitative meta-analysis and vote count, respectively. Sources were included in our analysis if they covered active removal or biological control removal of Tamarix spp. in North America and had some measure of comparison between pre- and post-removal (Before-After removal; BA) and/or restored and unrestored sites (Control-Impact; CI). We estimated responses to control by treatment type (e.g., cut-stump removal, burning, biocontrol) and ecosystem component response (e.g., vegetation, fauna). Within the vegetation component, we separately analyzed vegetation metrics by growth habit (overstory, understory, both) and desirability (noxious invasive, native/non-noxious exotic). There were typically multiple response metrics in each paper, and the final sample sizes were 778 for the meta-analysis and 1,461 for vote counting. For the quantitative meta-analysis, we calculated standardized mean differences to determine effect sizes, and for the vote count we calculated the relative percentages of cases that increased (desirable outcomes), decreased (undesirable outcomes), and did not change. We assigned positive values to desirable outcomes, as defined by the author. Overall, vegetation metrics were the most commonly assessed/represented, particularly Tamarix metrics.  Characteristics such as fauna, soils, and hydrogeomorphic dynamics were underrepresented, especially across removal method categories. While “fauna” as a category was the second best represented after vegetation, there was insufficient replication to examine patterns within taxa. From the quantitative meta-analysis, we found significantly positive responses of combined vegetation metrics to biocontrol, herbicide, and cut-stump treatments. However, analysis of vegetation metrics by category showed that while treatments are effective at reducing Tamarix cover, there was no statistically significant impact on desirable vegetation. Biocontrol had a significantly negative effect on fauna metrics. Herbicide increased measures of fire intensity. These results were largely corroborated by the vote count; most treatments saw largely positive effects, but unequivocal positive outcomes were rare. In the vote count, biocontrol had largely negative effects on fauna and was associated with an increase in fire. Overall, our results suggest that common removal methods are generally effective at reducing Tamarix cover, but the more indirect effects on other aspects of the environment are variable and still remain understudied. Further research could help to elucidate the less commonly studied responses to invasive species control and restoration including fauna, soil, and hydrogeomorphic characteristics.
  • Climate Change's Cycle of Disaster in Arid West Impacts Watersheds for Multiple Years
    Paula Stepp1
    1Middle Colorado Watershed Council, Rifle, CO, USA; pstepp@midcowatershed.org
    In August 2020, the larger impact of the change in climate reared its head in the Middle Colorado River watershed. While stakeholders wrapped up two-and-a-half years of designing a stream management plan, two wildfires started to burn in the watershed. The Grizzly Creek fire quickly shut down I-70 that runs through Glenwood Canyon for more than two weeks with a devastating impact to the canyon and to the already covid-damaged tourist economy of the region. On the western side of the watershed, the state’s third largest fire in 2020 was impacting the middle and lower Colorado watersheds. The city of Glenwood public water infrastructure relied on water from No Name and Grizzly Creek as a primary source and started working on mitigation as soon as the fire started burning. State and federal aid helped Glenwood put in millions of dollars to update the intake system and the water plant which was completed in time for the 2021 debris flows and an additional two-week canyon shutdown in 2021. The damage from the debris flow to the Interstate and the impact that was felt far beyond our watershed brought the federal emergency management team to the canyon to help solve the immediate crisis of repair and transportation. Our communities on the middle and lower Colorado as well as Colorado Parks and Wildlife will need to resolve the consistent sediment and turbidity in the river that will impact infrastructure, drinking water and our aquatic population for years to come. While the long-term regional drought continues to impact our municipal, agriculture and recreation communities in this area, the second and third tier impacts of fire and flooding exacerbate the problems caused by low soil moisture and low water flows. In this presentation, we will discuss the above climate-related impacts and how Middle Colorado Watershed Council is going about better understanding what climate change means for the middle Colorado River and how our organization is adapting our mission and priorities.
  • Gathering Information on the Future of Snow and Water for Adaptation Planning on National Forests
     
    Charles Luce1
     
    1US Forest Service
     
     
  • Obtaining Plants and Seeds for Restoration Practitioners
     
    Kara Barron1, Steve Plath1
     
    1 Gila Watershed Partnership, Safford, Arizona, USA; kara@gwpaz.org
     
    Obtaining appropriate and diversified plant and seed materials for ecological restoration has been problematic for restoration practitioners for decades. The likelihood of finding the necessary genotypic plants in quantities desired are remote at best. Finding growers that have the knowledge and facilities to grow out material is equally as challenging. Nevertheless, proper planning and lead time can allow willing growers to adequately fulfill orders on a contract-grow basis. Discussion will focus on pitfalls to avoid with growers, working with growers to choose the right species, container types and revegetation methodologies for a given project and how to decide when to seed and/or plant from containers.
     
  • It Starts with a Seed: Growing Capacity for Regional Native Plant Materials through the Southwest Seed Partnership
     
    Ashlee Wolf1, Maria Mullins1, Melanie Gisler1
     
    1Institute for Applied Ecology, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA; ashleewolf@appliedeco.org
     
    The Southwest Seed Partnership (SWSP) arose in October 2015 to establish a network for native, genetically appropriate seeds while advocating for a new industry standard. Parallel to the National Seed Strategy, the vision of this collaborative effort is to assess and prioritize plant populations, to collect and track wild seed, and to collaborate and coordinate with farmers and conservationists in order to increase the commercial availability of genetically diverse, locally sourced seed for restoration, rehabilitation, and reclamation projects in the Southwest. The SWSP works to support the native seed industry by consolidating demand and acting as a liaison between consumers and seed producers. In this presentation, we focus on two case studies exemplifying the native plant materials track at different scales-from wild-sourced seed to propogation in nurseries or agricultural fields, and finally to research and eventual restoration sites. Discussion will emphasize lessons learned and strategies for building capacity of regional native plant material programs.
  • Great Basin Reseach Center and Seed Warehouse: Providing Seed for Restoration and Beyond
     
    Kevin Gunnell1
     
    1Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Great Basin Research Center and Seed Warehouse, Ephraim, UT, USA; kevingunnell@utah.gov
     
    The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) Great Basin Research Center and Seed Warehouse (GBRC) is a unique facility to the western U.S. Built in 2004 in collaboration with the Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service and State of Utah, the GBRC is managed by the UDWR as a ‘one stop shop’ to provide seed, equipment, technical expertise, and research to support restoration efforts throughout the state of Utah. The GBRC plays a central role in Utah’s Watershed Restoration Initiative (WRI). Initiated in 2006, the WRI is a large scale partnership based program to improve high priority watersheds throughout the State of Utah through on the ground, grassroots designed and driven projects. This presentation will provide an overview of the WRI, how the operations of the GBRC seed warehouse are incorporated within that initiative, and the various other projects at the GBRC that influence how seed is procured and provided to restoration projects throughout the intermountain west.
  • Tradeoffs Between Leaf Thermoregulation and Hydraulic Safety in Warm-Versus Cool-adapted Ecotypes in the Foundation Tree Species Populus fremontii
     
    Kevin Hultine1, Davis E Blasini2, Dan F Koepke3, Madeline E Moran4
     
    1Department of Research, Conservation and Collections, Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, AZ, USA; khultine@dbg.org
    2School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA; dblasini@asu.edu
    3Department of Research, Conservation and Collections, Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, AZ, USA; dkoepke@dbg.org
    4School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA; memoran@asu.edu
     
    A primary challenge for successful Populus fremontii restoration in warm-desert riparian ecosystems is determining whether genotypes currently adapted to the region will become maladapted under future climate conditions. One way to evaluate genotypes that are best suited to cope with future heat waves is to quantify leaf thermal safety margins: the difference between leaf temperature and the temperature at which leaf photosynthetic capacity is inhibited. Here we define photosynthetic inhibition as the temperature at which electron transport capacity of Photosystem II drops to 50% of its maximum (Tcrit). Mid-summer Tcrit was evaluated in a common garden setting along the Colorado River near Yuma, AZ. The common garden comprised of eight P. fremontii populations sourced across an elevation gradient from 50 m to 1230 m. Mean population Tcrit ranged from 51.1 °C to 52.5 °C. However, contrasts among populations were not correlated with elevation, indicating that low-elevation populations operate with a much narrower thermal safety margin compared to high-elevation populations. Conversely, in a separate common garden study, low elevation populations had a 40% higher mean midday transpiration rate, reflecting a 3.8 °C cooler mean leaf temperature compared to high elevation populations. These data indicate that plants adapted to warm environments are predisposed to tightly regulate leaf temperatures during heat waves via higher evaporative leaf cooling. Combined, these two common garden studies indicate that warm-adapted genotypes operate with a relatively narrow thermal safety margin and as a consequence are adapted to take “hydraulic risks” so that leaf cooling is maximized during heat waves. Identifying genotypes that maintain leaf thermal safety while minimizing hydraulic risk will likely be a necessary feature of future P. fremontii restoration efforts along the lower Colorado River and other warm-desert riparian ecosystems.
  • Developing Career Pathways through Restoration Work
     
    Briget Eastep1
     
    1Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative, Cedar City, UT; eastep@suu.edu
     
    Brigit Eastep is going to cover the Corps have evolved to tackle new realms in riparian restoration such as Individual Placements, expanded GIS capabilities, monitoring, and rapid strike teams. She will detail these endeavors by covering the intergovernmental Internship Cooperative, the youth they work with, the land managers they place those youth with, and the careers that these positions lead to.
  • Automated Soil and Groundwater Monitoring to Support Adaptive Management of Actively Managed Riparian Restoration Area
     
    Lindsey Bunting1*, Monisha Banerjee2, James Knowles3, Mike Milczarek4
     
    1 GeoSystems Analysis, Inc., Austin, Texas, USA, lindsey@gsanalysis.com
    2 GeoSystems Analysis. Inc., Tucson, Arizona, USA, monisha@gsanalysis.com
    3 United States Bureau of Reclamation, Boulder City, Nevada, USA, jknowles@usbr.gov
    4 GeoSystems Analysis, Inc., Tucson, Arizona, USA, mike@gsanalysis.com
     
    Arizona Game and Fish Department plans to restore approximately 670 acres of wetlands, gallery forest, and enhance emergent wetlands within the Lower San Pedro River Wildlife Area (LSPRWA) located approximately 50 miles north of Tucson, Arizona.  The goal is to assist in countering wetland and riparian habitat loss throughout the State, and create and enhance additional critical habitat for federally-threatened and federally-endangered avian species.  
    We conducted a feasibility study to prioritize restoration areas and develop site-specific habitat restoration plans.  Components of the feasibility study included a background data review; a baseline assessment of soil, groundwater and vegetation characteristics in the riparian corridor; two-dimensional hydraulic modeling, and development of a surface water-groundwater model.  These tools were used to prescribe restoration activities (e.g. conservation, selective invasive tree removal, large-scale invasive species removal followed by re-vegetation), prioritize restoration areas, and provide planting palette recommendations based on site conditions (soil texture, soil salinity, depth to groundwater, inundation frequency, and long-term groundwater resilience).  Leaf on LiDAR data was paired with the field vegetation characterization to produce vegetation maps of the study area and develop a site-specific habitat suitability model for the southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) and yellow billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus).  The surface water-groundwater model was used to evaluate long-term groundwater supply adequacy critical for riparian habitat.  It included scenarios that examined the impact of climate change and reduced pumping of select wells.  Several tools, including model input requirements, will be presented, which habitat restoration practitioners could use at other large-scale restoration projects to help determine restoration feasibility, prescriptions, and prioritization. 
  • How to Be Prepared When Purchasing Native Plants
     
    Rebecca Wright1, Ty Blacker1
     
    1North Fork Native Plants, Rexburg, ID, USA; rebecca@northforknativeplants.com
     
    Over the past 20 years North Fork Native Plants has accumulated experience through being both a custom and speculative wholesale grower of native plant species for projects throughout the intermountain west. There are a handful of different native plant products that our company produces, some are common to the industry, and one is unique to North Fork Native Plants. We will step through the process of what it takes to procure starting materials, treat seed prior to germination, and achieve a grow within the timeframe our clients requested. Finding the preferred or required seed source and notifying a grower within the proper timeframe are the two most common obstacles encountered by native plant buyers. Understanding these potential roadblocks and how to prepare for them in advance is crucial information for project managers, designers, and installers to understand.
  • Lessons Learned from Riparian Restoration
     
    Eric McCulley1
     
    1RiverRestoration
     
    The practice of restoring floodplains and riparian areas across the Intermountain West (and the World) has been filled with learning and progress over the last several decades (centuries). When we implement projects, we learn about how ecosystems work every time we try to “fix” them. This learning leads to progress in the science of river and floodplain restoration if the lessons learned are shared with a broad audience. Many restoration projects get completed and then no one ever checks to see if the benefits proposed for the project have been sustainable or even if they were successful in the first place. In this presentation, I will go through a variety of projects where lessons have been learned about how Mother Nature reacts to the work we do on the ground. Water does not always do what you want it to do, and ecosystems do not always react in the way we predict, so a robust adaptive management strategy can improve project outcomes. Bring your own lessons learned to the discussion. 
  • Interaction of Tamarisk Legacy Soil and Climate Change on Fremont Cottonwood
     
    Julia Hull1, Kevin Hultine2, Lisa Markovich3, Catherine Gehring4
     
    1Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, USA; jbh232@nau.edu
    2 Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Arizona, USA; khultine@dbg.org
    3 Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA; Lisa_Markovchick@nau.edu
    4 Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA; Catherine.Gehring@nau.edu
     
    The conservation and restoration of riparian ecosystems in the southwestern U.S. is becoming increasingly important under climate change, altered hydrologic regimes, and the spread of non-native species. Restoration of native species, such as Fremont cottonwood (Populus fremontii), to Tamarix spp. (tamarisk, saltcedar) invaded lands may face complications imposed by tamarisk legacy soil. Tamarisk can alter soil chemical and biological properties, which can last for years following mortality or removal. This is further complicated by the disproportionate effect climate change is having on the desert southwest. Understanding the interaction of tamarisk legacy soil and increased temperature due to climate change will be important for the implementation of effective restoration practices in the southwest in the coming decades. To that end, we used a fully-factorial greenhouse experimental design to test the hypothesis that the combined effects of higher temperatures and tamarisk legacy soil would have synergistic negative effects on the performance of cottonwoods. We collected cottonwood cuttings from four populations, which were grown in ambient or heated temperature conditions (~3.5 C warmer than ambient) either in tamarisk legacy or agriculture legacy soil. Our treatment soils were collected from adjacent plots in an experimental garden in Yuma, Arizona. We measured cottonwood mortality, growth, biomass allocation patterns, and functional traits. We found 1) a synergistic interaction of temperature and soil legacy only in cottonwood mortality, and 2) functional traits associated with water supply and demand, as well as biomass allocation, showed buffering effects, meaning that surviving cottonwoods grown in heated-tamarisk soil treatment outperformed other treatment combinations. The implications of this study suggest that the combined effects of higher temperature and tamarisk legacy soil may not be as dire as previously predicted. Although mortality in the heated-tamarisk soil treatment was ~65%, the surviving individuals showed better acclimation to the combined stressors. Land managers interested in the restoration of tamarisk invaded lands while preparing for current and future climate change may consider increasing the number of plants in a restoration project to accommodate for high mortality with an understanding that the survivors may be better suited to face the combination of tamarisk legacy soil and high temperatures.
  • Colorado Youth Corps and the Colorado Water Conservation Board
     
    Erik Skeie1
     
    1Colorado Water Conservation Board, Denver, CO; erik.skeie@state.co.us
     
    The Colorado Water Conservation Board’s mission is to conserve, develop, protect, and manage Colorado’s water for present and future generations. In order to carry to mission into the future, we need to continually develop watershed stewards and natural resources professionals. Partnering with Youth Corps across the state creates immediate jobs in natural resource management while training the next generation of professionals that will carry on CWCB’s mission through their future work.
  • Trends in Evapotranspiration and Drought in a Dozen Riparian Restoration Sites in the Colorado River Delta in Mexico
     
    Pamela Nagler1*, Ibrahima Sall2,3, Armando Barreto-Muñoz3, Hamideh Nouri4, Sattar Chavoshi Borujeni5,6, Martha Gómez-Sapiens7, and Kamel Didan8
     
    1U.S. Geological Survey, Southwest Biological Science Center, 520 North Park Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85719 USA; pnagler@usgs.gov
    2Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Arizona Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
    3Biosystems Engineering, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, 85721 USA
    4Division of Agronomy, University of Göttingen, Von-Siebold-Strasse 8, 37075, Göttingen, Germany
    5School of Life Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, NSW, 2007, Australia
    6Soil Conservation and Watershed Management Research Department, Isfahan Agricultural and Natural Resources Research and Education Centre, AREEO, Isfahan, Iran
    7Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
     
    The Colorado River delta riparian vegetation has been declining in greenness and water use since 2000 as measured by Landsat. Restoration activities in two reaches in the delta (Reach 2 and Reach 4) have been expanding and now total 13 sites (“All Restoration Sites”), with initial planting dates between 2010 and 2018. Due to more available water in recent years, restoration has been very successful. Three sources of water have been provided to the region, first in 2014 as the Minute 319 Pulse Flow and as directed flows to the restoration sites under Minute 323, which allocated water for restoration starting in 2018, plus any excess flows such as from the MODE canal in 2019. We assess if the restoration, which comprised only 7.5% of the area of the reaches, had impact on reach-level health (“All Reaches 1-4,” for the area not restored) by measuring greenness and water use and comparing the values between the restored and adjacent unrestored areas during three periods in our study: the 21-years from 2000-2020, the recent decade (2011-2020) and since the Minute 319 Pulse Flow (2014-2020). We use the two-band Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI2) and evapotranspiration (ET, mmd-1) using EVI2 and ground-based meteorological potential evapotranspiration (ETo) acquired from Yuma. Over 21-years greenness in the unrestored riparian corridor of the delta’s reach 2 and 4 decreased by 23.6% and ET(EVI2) decreased by 32% (0.87 mmd-1), whereas greenness increased by 33.6% in the 13 restored sites and ET(EVI2) increased by 58% (1.29 mmd-1) since 2014. The restored sites showed increases over the last decade (2011-2020) in riparian vegetation greenness (36%) and ET(EVI2) (20%). The 13 restored sites in the delta are much healthier based on greenness and water use than the adjacent unrestored vegetation along the river reach; however, they do not have significant impact on the larger reach-level riparian health. The restoration sites are little patches of success in a declining landscape, but site-scale restoration has not yet stopped or reversed a two-decade decline in vegetation health. For the combined restored sites and unrestored reaches, EVI2 and ET as a function of the 3-month standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index (SPEI03) show declines. These findings can be utilized by decision makers in their quest to mitigate declines in riparian woodlands.

     

  • Riparian Vegetation Response to High Intensity Fire and Flood Disturbance in Two Montane Canyons in the Jemez Mountains, New Mexico
     
     
  • The Practice of Collaborative Conservation and Getting Stuff Done on the Ground
     
    Todd Graham1
     
    1Ranch Advisory Partners, Manhattan, MT, USA; tgraham@ranchadvisory.com
     
    Successful stewardship of natural resources is becoming increasingly complex with greater occurrence of droughts and floods, heat and cold, fires, insect outbreaks, invasive species, and disease.  Furthermore, public lands use in the Western US has substantially increased.  With more people in the backcountry, wildlife are moving to private lands for shelter and placing more pressure on lands used in agriculture.  The West is struggling to adapt fast enough. 
    It is time to expand the practice of collaborative resource stewardship to help manage this increased complexity.  Instead of focusing on simply getting along with one another, we must expand our thinking across property boundaries, ecological entrepreneurship, and creating a learning organization capable of growing together through time.  Resource managers, both public and private, seek a sense of belonging to a larger movement where they can share achievements, build trust, and work through mistakes.  A collaborative stewardship group creates that sense of place. 
    When a group innovates and pursues new projects together, they should start at a small scale.  Mistakes happen.  But make them at a small scale and make them together, for the shared learning is highly important.  Then, once group learning has occurred, scaling can follow resulting in larger shared successes.  Only a slow process of group learning can produce the collective awareness required to successfully steward complex non-linear systems.   In this presentation, I will highlight work in three western states that showcase a collaborative, innovative approach to conservation on private land that also happen to improve improve profitability.  These will include successes and failures and strategies for interacting with interested groups.    
    Looking forward, a fundamental shift is required in the practice of conservation within these rapidly changing times.  Historically, when working with landowners, conservation has been practiced on the balance sheet.  Conservation easements, riparian projects, and habitat improvement projects are all items that affect a landowner’s balance sheet.  But it’s time to begin focusing more on the income statement, helping stakeholders generate additional income and reduce expenses through conservation practices.  Only then will widespread adoption of restorative conservation practices be embraced. 

     

  • Effective Conservation and Restoration of Desert Riverscapes Must Include Conservation of In-Stream Flows: What can we learn from a Case Study from the White River, Utah
     
    Casey Pennock1*, William Macfarlane1, Phaedra Budy2,1, Justin Jimenez3, Jerrad Goodell4
     
    1Department of Watershed Sciences, Utah State University, Logan, UT, USA; casey.pennock@usu.edu, wally.macfarlane@usu.edu
    2U.S. Geological Survey, Utah Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and Department of Watershed Sciences, Utah State University, Logan, UT, USA; phaedra.budy@usu.edu
    3U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Utah State Office, Salt Lake City, UT, USA; jjimenez@blm.gov
    4U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Vernal Field Office, Vernal, UT, USA; jgoodell@blm.gov
     
    Water development has threatened the ecological integrity of riverine ecosystems directly and indirectly through habitat degradation. Riverscape conservation and restoration practioners must contend with compounding effects of increasing demand for water, persistent drought, non-native species establishment, and climate change which exacerbate effects of habitat degradation and loss in altered rivers such as the Colorado River basin, USA. To demonstrate the need to include conservation of in-stream flows in desert river restoration, herein, we present an adaptive conservation, restoration, and monitoring plan for the lower White River, UT, a tributary to the middle Green River, and discuss the importance of using flow conservation as a foundation for conservation and restoration actions. Previous conservation and restoration actions in the lower White River riverscape have primarily focused on removal of non-native Russian olive (Elaegnus angustifolia) in proximity to legacy stands of Fremont cottonwood (Populus fremontii), largely to reduce fire risk. In our plan, we focused on a coupled approach of conservation of the natural flow regime and restoration of riparian vegetation to prevent further vegetation encroachment on the active channel, and to encourage channel widening and meandering, and the contribution of large wood.  As the focus of our proposed management actions, we identified the riparian and geomorphic features we hypothesize are contributing to in-stream habitat complexity.  These features create linkages between the riparian area and the active channel (i.e., biological linkages) and geomorphic features within the active channel (e.g., side bars, point bars, etc., depositional areas), which we predict are prone to establishment of riparian vegetation. We identified biological linkages and bar features in four river reaches encompassing 95 km of the lower White River. We coupled these features with a comprehensive riparian vegetation classification to rank features for management actions. We then prioritized different conservation or restoration goals based on predicted annual flows. Traditionally, conservation and restoration actions in riverscapes have taken place at fine-scales and have largely focused on reducing densities of non-native species. Few efforts have considered flow conservation in prioritization schemes as well as annual flow characteristics; yet this approach allowed us to focus on ecologically and geomorphically-relevant features and scales at which to prioritize conservation and restoration. We contend that the natural flow regime is crucial to the long-term success of management efforts because of the critical role flow plays in the creation and maintenance of important habitat for both in-stream and riparian communities.
  • Adaptive Wet Meadow Habitat Restoration in the Gunnison Basin
     
    Maxwell Sawyer1
     
    1Western Colorado University Master of Environmental Management Program, Gunnison, CO, USA; maxwell.sawyer@western.edu
     
    Since 2012 the Upper Gunnison Basin Meadow and Riparian Restoration Program has been working to enhance ecosystem reliance by restoring lost hydrologic and ecological function in degraded riparian habitats. Restoration efforts benefit the threatened Gunnison sage-grouse, local ungulate populations, cattle and sheep ranching operations, and local water tables. Between 2012 and 2019 the project restored over 24 stream miles and built over 1,900 structures with over 120 more structures added in 2020 and 2021. The key to successful riparian restoration work in dry environments like the Gunnison Basin is to tailor restoration efforts to the local landscape at each site because each restoration site contains its own unique characteristics and challenges and there is no single restoration approach that works at every site. To enact restoration in this manner, the landscape must be read and interpreted in order to determine the ways in which water moves across the landscape before restoration is implemented and how restoration will affect these patterns of movement. Riparian and wet meadow ecosystems are a small but critical habitat for species residing in the Gunnison Basin, including the threatened Gunnison sage-grouse, and since much of the land area in these critical habitats has been heavily impacted and degraded by a variety of past land uses restoration is critical for slowing habitat loss and building resiliency to climate induced changes to temperature and precipitation patterns. The restoration structures implemented across the basin since 2012 have been based on the low-tech restoration process outlined by Bill Zeedyk and have since been modified and added to meet the needs of the habitat in the Gunnison Basin. As this restoration project continues to expand and evolve project managers and participants continue to build the ‘recipe book’ of riparian restoration in the Gunnison Basin and use lessons learned from restoration efforts to increase the effectiveness of future restoration efforts both in terms of specific site characteristics and changes to climatic factors. Information in this presentation will focus on work completed and lessons learned at the Monson Gulch restoration site east of Gunnison, Colorado where over 50 restoration structures were built re-wetting roughly six acres of riparian habitat during the 2021 field season. Attendees to this presentation will learn about the Monson Gulch restoration site in detail, lessons learned during the 2021 field season, and how the restoration program continuously works to increase the effectiveness of restoration efforts through trial and error and various forms of monitoring.
  • Floodplain Reunification-The River Restoration Frontier
     
    Janine Castro
     
    1US Fish and Wildlife Service, Vancouver, WA, USA
     
    Channel reconstruction has become fairly conventional, perhaps even routine, in Pacific Northwest (PNW) stream restoration.  Over the past several decades, restoration work has sought to increase available aquatic habitat, and specifically salmon habitat, by lengthening channels, decreasing spacing between pools, changing channel width, or adding large wood. As a stream restoration community, we were “channel-centric”, thinking about streams primarily as linear features bound between two banks on the landscape – we even reported our restoration metrics in linear feet.  Much of our design time and budget was dedicated to determining the “correct” channel size – not too big, not too small, but just right. Our goal was to create the ideal stable transport channel, able to pass water and sediment, while neither appreciably aggrading nor degrading. Stream slope, cross-sectional area, and roughness were modified to achieve a perfectly balanced channel, and then grade control structures were added as an extra measure to prevent channel incision. In wide alluvial valleys, floodplain dimensions and characteristics, such as elevation, extent, and roughness, were the product of a stable transport channel design. This often resulted in relatively “high and dry” floodplains that only connected to a main channel during moderate to high flow events because sufficient flow had to be contained within a single channel to ensure sediment continuity – the stable channel gold standard.
    While floodplains have long been valued for their ability to dissipate flow energy, store flood water, and provide high flow refuge, they are now also recognized as productive food sources for aquatic organisms. Recent research has concluded that fish grow larger and are more vigorous if they spend part of their life on an inundated floodplain, giving them a survival advantage. PNW stream restoration work has been migrating out of the channel and on to the floodplain because most of our aquatic restoration is funded through salmon recovery dollars, and it is becoming apparent that fish need floodplains. We, the restoration community, are taking more of a spatial view of rivers and are reporting number of acres restored, as well as feet of stream treated. Floodplain-focused restoration projects often raise stream beds, add side channels and alcoves, reconnect seasonally inundated wetlands, and increase large wood on floodplains, as well as in channels, with the goal of greater lateral connectivity for longer periods of time. However, floodplains are primarily depositional landforms that accrete through time; without a regular influx of sediment, many floodplains begin to subside. This presents a conundrum – our channel-focused design approach that results in a sediment transport balance is largely incompatible with restoring a river-wetland corridor in a depositional environment. Our challenge is to develop a new suite of tools that expands both our design palette and our restoration techniques to include a broader range of project objectives, especially floodplain reconnection, because achieving sediment balance is no longer the primary factor driving river-wetland corridor restoration designs.
  • The History and Future of Biocontrol in Riparian Areas, the 20/20 Perspective
     
    Dan Bean1, Tom Dudley2
     
    1Colorado Department of Agriculture, Palisade Insectary, Palisade, CO, USA; dan.bean@state.co.us
    2Marine Science Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, USA
     
    Biological control of invasive plants is ecological in nature, increasing stress on the target plant by reintroducing the target to natural enemies.  Biological control diminishes the ability of the target to outcompete native plants, offering resources managers assistance in target control.  By its nature, biological control takes time and should be incorporated into management plans with long term goals, making it ideally suited for a 20/20 perspective. We will discuss two plants that have invaded riparian ecosystems as examples of biological control targets and how biological control can be a valuable component of riparian resources management.  The first target was tamarisk or saltcedar, a group of related species in the genus Tamarix. Tamarisk biocontrol began just over 20 years ago when the northern tamarisk beetle, Diorhabda carinulata, was released at seven sites in western North America. Over the first twenty years beetles moved, either naturally or with human assistance, through most tamarisk infested river basins in North America.  The impact on tamarisk density has been variable, surpassing 40% mortality in some locations while resulting in little or no mortality in others.  Tamarisk biological control is most valuable as part of larger scale management strategies.  Russian knapweed, Rhaponticum repens, has invaded some of the same watersheds that tamarisk has.  Two gall-forming biological control agents are being used against Russian knapweed, a gall midge Jaapiella ivannikovi and a gall wasp Aulacidea acroptilonica.  In areas where the agents have become well established, they have had a visible impact on the structure of knapweed plants.  Monitoring is underway to determine the long-term impact of the two agents on plant density which will used to inform resources managers of the potential value in managing knapweed. Over the next twenty years we expect that biological control will provide a target-specific means to diminish the competitive ability of invasive riparian plants, benefitting management of invaded riparian ecosystems.    
  • A Decade of Restoration on the Verde River
     
    Tracy J Stephens1, Elaine Nichols1, Dr. Nancy LC Steele1
     
    1Friends of the Verde River, Cottonwood, AZ, USA; TracyS@verderiver.org
     
    The Verde Watershed Restoration Coalition (VWRC) is a partnership of over 25 agencies, organizations, and municipalities and over 235 private landowners focused on educating local communities and restoring ecosystem function in the Verde River Watershed. VWRC was formed in 2010 to develop an invasive plant maangement plan that focused on riparian restoration. Friends of the Verde River (FVR) convenes VWRC and works to lead restoration efforts.
    The Verde River is one of the last perennial river systems in Arizona. VWRC partners identified riparian invasive plants as one of the biggest threats to the river ecosystem. Over the last decade, FVR and our VWRC partners have successfully completed riparian restoration of over 10,500 acres through invasive plant  removal. Based on these successes, VWRC has expanded with goals focused on habitat restoration (aquatic, riparian, and upland), wildlife corridors and connectivity, monitoring water quality, addressing sedimentation and accelerated erosion, and developing watershed stewards through community science. The challenges and successes of the VWRC partnership will help guide us as we plan fture restoration in the Verde River Watershed.

     

  •  

    Vegetation Establishment to Promote Dust Control Using Natural Physical Barriers and Surface Hydrology at the Salton Sea, CA

    Ondrea Hummel1, Chris Sanderson1 , Sujoy Roy1, Jacob Kollen2

    1Tetra Tech; Ondrea.Hummel@tetratech.com, chris.sanderson@tetratech.com, sujoy.roy@tetratech.com,. 2 California Department of Water Resources; jacob.kollen@water.ca.gov.

     

    The Salton Sea is a hypersaline inland lake situated in the Imperial Valley of Southern California. Over the past 20 years the lake surface elevation has decreased by approximately 12 ft, exposing the dry lakebed (playa) and accumulated lakebed sediments containing metals, salts and likely a suite of degradation products resulting from chemicals used in production agriculture. The ongoing recession of the lake and subsequent exposure of the dry lakebed poses potentially significant air quality problems for the nearby population as well as the region in general. The lake surface elevation is expected to drop another 18 feet over the next 20 years (CH2M Hill, 2018), thus exposing an additional 80,000 acres of lakebed. If no action is taken, the increase in exposed lakebed is anticipated to contribute to an increase in wind-blown dust (PM10) and exacerbate a regional air quality problem.

    A multi-disciplinary team led by the California Department of Water Resources, along with Tetra Tech, is designing a landscape-scale dust suppression and vegetation enhancement project over 2,500 acres. The primary aim of this plan is to prevent dust emissions through roughness-based dust control methods. This initial planning effort has consisted of a review of plant establishment challenges on the playa, specifically aeolian transport processes, climatic and hydrologic factors, and edaphic and vegetative parameters associated with plant establishment. Roughness-based dust control consists of the construction of natural physical structures and establishment of Allenrolfea occidentalis, a keystone species in hyper-xeric halophytic settings. Ephemeral surface water inputs from surrounding watersheds are proposed to be utilized using physical structures consisting of shallow berms, furrows, compost socks, and other surface contouring built in key landscape positions in order to retain stormwater flows on site and promote vegetation germination and establishment. The selection and rationale for structures and placement will be presented along with the modeling efforts and field data collection activities.

     

     

     

  • Native Fish Need a Natural Flow Regime, Not More Water Development (No Duh)
     
    Phaedra Budy3,1,2, Casey A. Pennock*1,2, William W. Macfarlane1,2, Matthew J. Breen3, Justin Jimenez4, and John C. Schmidt1,5
     
    1Department of Watershed Sciences and The Ecology Center, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322, phaedra.budy@usu.edu, Casey.Pennock@usu.edu, wally.macfarlane@usu.edu
    2U.S. Geological Survey, Utah Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Utah State University, Logan UT, 84322
    3Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Northeastern Regional Office, Vernal, UT 84078, mattbreen@utah.gov
    4U. S. Bureau of Land Management, Utah State Office, Salt Lake City, UT 84101, jjimenez@blm.gov
    5Center for Colorado River Studies, Utah State University, Logan, UT, 84322, jack.schmidt@usu.edu
     
    Water development has threatened the ecological integrity of riverine ecosystems. Increasing demand for water, persistent drought, and climate change exacerbate the effects of habitat degradation and loss in altered systems such as the Colorado River basin, USA. Today, biologists in the basin are challenged to identify management actions that benefit native fishes while not hindering water development or management. Herein, we discuss the importance of the natural flow regime for functioning riverine ecosystems and provide examples from four tributaries to the middle Green River, a major headwater branch of the Colorado River. These rivers represent a gradient of impacts ranging from water abstraction to the point of complete seasonal desiccation to a relatively natural flow regime, and consequently have maintained different levels of in-stream habitat complexity and native fish persistence. Despite decades of intense management, endangered species continue to lack self-sustaining populations and other imperiled native species have been extirpated from over half their ranges, which begs the question of whether water development and fish conservation can be balanced?
  •  
    A Tale of Two Rivers:  The Role of Different Drought-Like Conditions in Promoting Vegetation Encroachment on the Lower Dolores River
     
    Cynthia Dott1* and Alan Kasprak2
     
    1Fort Lewis College Dept of Biology, Durango, CO; dott_c@fortlewis.edu
    2Fort Lewis College Dept of Geosciences, Durango, CO; akasprak@fortlewis.edu
     
    The effects of river regulation on the flow patterns of rivers in western North America often mimic the impacts of naturally-occurring episodic drought.  On the Dolores River in southwestern Colorado, two distinct periods of flow modification have occurred, with very different drought-like consequences for downstream habitat.  The first period of major irrigation diversions (1889-1984), led to extreme low flows during the summer months with little change to spring peak flows.  The second period after dam construction (1984-present), caused a decline in peak flows but an increase in summer minimum flows.  We studied the role of these different flow regimes in promoting the recruitment of non-native tamarisk (Tamarix spp.) and native coyote willow (Salix exigua).  We used dendrochronology to determine tamarisk establishment dates and tested the connection between establishment years and a suite of hydroclimatic variables.  Tamarisk recruitment occurred between 1952-2002, with 92% of trees establishing during the first, flow diversion period.  The strongest hydroclimate predictor was low minimum flow for a given year, especially when coupled with higher peak flows in the year of or before establishment.  Almost no tamarisk recruitment has occurred in the second, dam-controlled period, where lowered peak flows but elevated minimum flows prevail. Instead, the combination of lowered peaks but increased summer baseflows post-dam has driven more rapid channel narrowing and vegetation encroachment by coyote willow.  In both cases, aspects of flow modification that mimic drought led to dramatic changes in vegetation composition, and in the “second river” period this has had major impacts on in-channel habitat conditions.  Given current and future drought conditions on western rivers, water managers and researchers need to be vigilant for potential new invasions and for threshold-crossing vegetation change that could impact wildlife diversity in both riparian and aquatic habitats. 
     
     
     
  • Tools for Restoration Feasibility Planning at the Lower San Pedro Wildlife Area (LSPRWA): Vegetation and Soil Assessment, LiDAR Data, Groundwater-Surface Water Model
     
    Monisha Banerjee1, Chad McKenna2, Mike Milczarek3, Laurel Lacher4, Bob Prucha5, Cy Miller6, Shawn Lowery7, Angela Stingelin8
     
    1 GeoSystems Analysis, Inc., Tucson, Arizona, USA, monisha@gsanalysis.com
    2 GeoSystems Analysis, Inc., Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, chad@gsanalysis.com
    3 GeoSystems Analysis, Inc., Tucson, Arizona, USA, mike@gsanalysis.com
    4 Lacher Hydrological Consulting, Tucson, Arizona, USA, LLacher1@msn.com
    5 Integrated Hydro Systems, LLC, Fort Collins, CO, USA, prucha@integratedhydro.com
    6 J.E. Fuller Hydrology & Geomorphology, Tucson, Arizona, USA, cyrus@jefuller.com
    6 Arizona Game and Fish Department, Tucson, Arizona, USA, SLowery@azgfd.gov
    7 Arizona Game and Fish Department, Tucson, Arizona, USA, AStingelin@azgfd.gov
     

    Arizona Game and Fish Department plans to restore approximately 670 acres of wetlands, gallery forest, and enhance emergent wetlands within the Lower San Pedro River Wildlife Area (LSPRWA) located approximately 50 miles north of Tucson, Arizona.  The goal is to assist in countering wetland and riparian habitat loss throughout the State, and create and enhance additional critical habitat for federally-threatened and federally-endangered avian species.  

    We conducted a feasibility study to prioritize restoration areas and develop site-specific habitat restoration plans.  Components of the feasibility study included a background data review; a baseline assessment of soil, groundwater and vegetation characteristics in the riparian corridor; two-dimensional hydraulic modeling, and development of a surface water-groundwater model.  These tools were used to prescribe restoration activities (e.g. conservation, selective invasive tree removal, large-scale invasive species removal followed by re-vegetation), prioritize restoration areas, and provide planting palette recommendations based on site conditions (soil texture, soil salinity, depth to groundwater, inundation frequency, and long-term groundwater resilience).  Leaf on LiDAR data was paired with the field vegetation characterization to produce vegetation maps of the study area and develop a site-specific habitat suitability model for the southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) and yellow billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus).  The surface water-groundwater model was used to evaluate long-term groundwater supply adequacy critical for riparian habitat.  It included scenarios that examined the impact of climate change and reduced pumping of select wells.  Several tools, including model input requirements, will be presented, which habitat restoration practitioners could use at other large-scale restoration projects to help determine restoration feasibility, prescriptions, and prioritization. 

  • River Corridor Collaborations-Planning and Implementing Cross-Jurisdictional River Planning and Management
     
    Joel Sholtes1, Catherine Ventling2, Hannah Holme3, Rusty Lloyd4, Kristen Jesperson4
     
    1Colorado Mesa University, Grand Junction, CO, USA; jsholtes@coloradomesa.edu
    2One Riverfront, Grand Junction, CO, USA; catherine.ventling@gmail.com
    3Ruth Hutchins Powell Water Center, Colorado Mesa University, Grand Junction, CO, USA; hholm@coloradomesa.edu
    4RiversEdge West, Grand Junction, CO, USA; rlloyd@riversedgewest.org
     
    River corridors in the West host myriad uses, user groups, and stakeholders. They are natural amenities that, when managed well, can benefit the health, wellness, and economy of a riverfront community. Indeed, in most cases in the West, riverfront communities owe their existence to their rivers. Managing river corridors of any geographic scope invariably requires the participation of multiple jurisdictions, regulators, and scores of stakeholder groups from irrigators to recreators to adjacent landowners. To ensure that river corridors can continue to support all the benefits, uses, and values communities receive from them, some level of planning and collaboration is necessary. This panel brings in multiple perspectives on how river corridors can be managed to discuss strategies for creating effective collaborations and building partnerships across jurisdictional boundaries. The example of a collaborative effort by One Riverfront and the Grand Valley River Corridor Initiative (RCI) on the Colorado River in Grand Junction is used to illustrate the discussion. The RCI has conducted extensive stakeholder outreach and workshops to identify the values, challenges, and vision the Grand Valley community holds for the Colorado River Corridor.
  • Hydroclimatic Variables for Predicting Riparian Habitat Suitability
     
    Brad Butterfield1,2, Emily Palmquist2,3
     
    1Center for Ecosystem Science and Society (ECOSS), Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, USA; Bradley.Butterfield@nau.edu
    2Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, USA
    3U.S. Geological Survey, Southwest Biological Science Center, Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center, Flagstaff, AZ, USA; epalmquist@usgs.gov
     
    Identifying target communities for restoration requires an understanding of the underlying hydrologic and climatic factors that determine habitat suitability. Hydrology and climate can have strong interactive effects on plant performance and population growth, where river flows can ameliorate or exacerbate stressors related to evaporative demand or precipitation. In order to assess the importance of these interactions in determining riparian habitat suitability, we quantified a suite of “hydroclimatic” variables that characterize climate conditions during periods of high and low flows, and likewise the flow conditions that typify climatically stressful or benign parts of the year. We developed ecological niche models for a suite of common woody riparian plant species, as well as riparian LANDFIRE Existing Vegetation Types, across the Western US. We found that incorporating hydroclimatic variables significantly improved model fit over models that only included standard bioclimatic and hydrologic variables. We discuss the implications for riparian restoration, and flow management in the context of compensating for climatic stress with environmental flows.
  • Adapting Restoration Techniques to Meet Climate Challenges on the Gila River
     
    Alexia Osornio1, Melanie Tluczek2, Steve Plath3
     
    1Gila Watershed Partnership of Arizona, Safford, AZ, USA; lexi@gwpaz.org
    2Gila Watershed Partnership of Arizona, Safford, AZ, USA; melanie@gwpaz.org
    3Gila Watershed Partnership of Arizona, Safford, AZ, USA; steve@gwpaz.org
     
    One of the primary challenges for restoration in arid climates is helping young plantings succeed under increasingly dry conditions. The past few years have seen sustained drought and record high temperatures in the Upper Gila Watershed, making it more difficult to grow young trees in an already water-stressed system. This challenge is compounded by factors such as river diversion, increased wildfire frequency, and competition from invasive plants, particularly tamarisk (Tamarix spp.), a highly invasive riparian tree. Even as these challenges make restoration more difficult, the need for restoration along the Upper Gila River has become even more urgent since the arrival of the tamarisk leaf beetle (TLB; Diorhabda spp.). The TLB was first detected in the Upper Gila Watershed in the summer of 2020, and over the next few years it is expected to defoliate large swaths of tamarisk along the river. As tamarisk declines in response to beetle activity, it is critical to establish islands of native trees and other plants that can support local wildlife in the absence of tamarisk. Creating such islands has been one of the primary goals of Gila Watershed Partnership (GWP) since 2014. Over the last few years, GWP has experimented with a variety of restoration techniques to promote survival and establishment of its native tree plantings. In particular, irrigation of young plants has shown considerable promise for encouraging root growth and facilitating groundwater access. Here we discuss the three primary irrigation methods used by GWP, lessons learned from each, and recommendations for how to choose an appropriate irrigation method at riparian restoration sites.

     

     
  • A Score of Changes and More in Store
     
    Dave Kanzer1
     
    1Colorado River District
  • Restoring the Land, Restoring Ourselves: Utilizing Landscape Restoration as a Method to Reconnect Indigenous Young People to the Natural World, their Cultures, and Career Pathways
     
    Chas Robles1
     
    1Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps, Albuquerque, NM, USA; chas@conservationlegacy.org
     
    In this presentation, Chas Robles will detail the ways that conservation corps programs have expanded the diversity of participation by focusing on Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps (ALCC), the program he runs. Chas will tell the history of ALCC, the ways they strive to cultivate the next generation of local land stewards, and how they work and partner with tribal communities and land managers. Highlighting innovative projects like the Ecological Restoration Certificate program, in which participants learn about and complete important restoration projects on public and Tribal lands and earn college credit and an industry-backed certificate, Chas will talk about how ALCC is working to complete conservation work, prepare its participants for success in industry professions, and center indigenous voices and knowledge in the fields of restoration and conservation.
  • Comparison of Actual Evapotranspiration Estimates Using Two Methods of Vegetation-Indexed and Energy-Balanced Over Riparian Zones: A Case Study of Colorado River Delta
     
    Neda Abbasi1,2*, Hamideh Nouri3, Pamela Nagler4*, Sattar Chavoshi Borujeni5,6, Kamel Didan7, Armando Barreto Munoz8, Christian Opp9, Ibrahima Sall10, Gabriel Senay11, Stefan Siebert12
     
    1 Department of Crop Sciences, University of Göttingen, Von-Siebold-Straße 8, 37075, Göttingen, Germany; neda.abbasi@agr.uni-goettingen.de
    2Department of Geography, Philipps-Universitat Marburg, Deutschhausstrafe 10, 3502, Marburg, Germany; neda.abbasi@agr.uni-goettingen.de
    3 Department of Crop Sciences, University of Göttingen, Von-Siebold-Straße 8, 37075, Göttingen, Germany; hamideh.nouri@uni-goettingen.de
    4 U.S. Geological Survey, Southwest Biological Science Center, 520 N. Park Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85719, USA;  pnagler@usgs.gov
    5 School of Environment, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, NSW 2007, Australia; Sattar.Chavoshiborujeni@student.uts.edu.au
    6 Soil Conservation and Watershed Management Research Department, Isfahan Agricultural and Natural Resources Research and Education Centre, AREEO, Isfahan, Iran; Sattar.Chavoshiborujeni@student.uts.edu.au
    7 Biosystems Engineering. The University of Arizona, 1177 E. 4th St., Tucson, AZ 85719, USA; didan@arizona.edu
    8 Biosystems Engineering. The University of Arizona, 1177 E. 4th St., Tucson, AZ 85719, USA; abarreto@arizona.edu
    9 Department of Geography, Philipps-Universitat Marburg, Deutschhausstrafe 10, 3502, Marburg, Germany; opp@mailer.uni-marburg.de
    10 Agricultural and Resource Economics. The University of Arizona, 1177 E. 4th St., Tucson, AZ 85719, USA; isall@arizona.edu
    11 US Geological Survey (USGS) Earth Resources Observation and Science Center, North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA; senay@usgs.gov
    12 Department of Crop Sciences, University of Göttingen, Von-Siebold-Straße 8, 37075, Göttingen, Germany; stefan.siebert@uni-goettingen.de
     
    Understanding the water consumption and vegetation dynamics in riparian zones is important to develop and maintain sustainable water management plans for the riparian ecosystems. This study focuses on estimating consumptive water use of a riparian corridor located in the Colorado River delta, characterized by distinctive hydrology conditions and strongly influenced by the watercourse. Apart from the climatological characteristics of the region, a challenging problem that arises in this domain is the need for accurate and spatially explicit water consumption data for drought monitoring and a long-term record of riparian water use. In this research, we compared two Remote Sensing-based (RS) actual evapotranspiration (ETa) estimates as a tool to map and monitor riparian zones’ water consumption (2003-2019). RS-based ET approaches provide spatial estimates that can be frequently updated and used across areas where ground measurements are scarce. The Vegetation-Index (VI) -based ETa (ET-VI). ET-VI method uses mainly optical and near-infrared bands to calculate VIs and combine them with reference ET to estimate ETa. In this study, 2-band Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI2) was calculated using Landsat imagery (with a spatial resolution of 30 meters) to derive ETa. All calculations were conducted on an open-access platform, Google Earth Engine, for geospatial analysis with computational capabilities and direct access to RS data. The second method is the Operationalized Simplified Surface Energy Balance ETa product, (SSEBOp-ETa, spatial resolution: 1 kilometer) which is an open-access product and uses RS-based thermal data from MODIS sensor and assimilated weather data to predict ETa. The time series analysis of both ETa estimates revealed that the riparian ecosystem has been experiencing loss in its corresponding water resources, especially within the last decade due to drought and water scarcity. The ETa trend assessment showed a significant decrease in ET-EVI2 about 4 (mm/year) and a non-significant decrease in SSEBOp-ETa (8 mm/year). The findings of our study emphasize the potential of RS-based ETa as an effective tool for fast hydrological monitoring, riparian zones management, and climate change studies. We encourage inter-comparison of RS-based methods with other empirical methods and the use of high-resolution sensors in the ETa derivation to monitor drought, riparian vegetation health, and water consumption.
  • Introducing Populus: A Tool for Selecting Fremont Cottonwood Candidate Trees for Restoration Using Ecological Research Findings
     
    Sean Mahoney1, Jacklyn PM Corbin2,3, Catherine A Gehring2,3, Thomas G Whitham2,3
     
    1Department of Wildlife, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA, USA; sean.mahoney@humboldt.edu
    2Department of Biological Science, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, USA; jmcorbin@nau.edu
    3Center for Adaptable Western Landscapes, Northern Arizona University; Flagstaff, AZ USA
     
    We designed a web-based application to select appropriate trees from candidate populations of Fremont cottonwood (Populus fremontii) for restoration based on the cumulative findings of over thirty years of research. Incorporating the results of scientific field studies into management plans continues to be a challenge; to ameliorate this, our tool provides land managers with recommended source populations of Fremont cottonwood based on the environmental characteristics of their specific region. Users provide geographic coordinates and characteristics of their site into a web-based Shiny R application. The provided information is then filtered against a database of climatic, ecological and occurrence data and returns a list of candidate populations for tree cuttings and seeds. With this tool we hope to: 1) Provide research-informed recommendations of candidate trees to land managers, 2) Increase the short- and long-term survivorship of planted trees to maximize ecosystem services, 3) Define and distribute a summary of best practices based on common garden experiments, 4) Identify trees which will be more resilient to the impacts of climate change in both present and future climatic conditions, and 6) Bolster community biodiversity by increasing the genetic diversity of planted trees. The Populus app provides land managers to a succinct recommendation which is customizable to their needs and objectives. With this tool, we hope to encourage the development of similar tools by academic research groups which facilitate restoration outcomes and increase collaboration with land management partners.
  • Partnering with Beaver to Restore Wetland
     
    Jessica Doran1, Mark Beardsley1
     
    1EcoMetrics, Breckenridge, CO, USA; Jessica@ecometrics.com
     
    The importance of partnering with beavers, the quintessential aquatic ecosystem engineers, has crystalized in recent years.  In the past, restoration approaches have focused on stabilizing channels using engineered repairs.  In many Rocky Mountain headwater systems, it is possible to work with a native species to enable natural processes to improve the health of streams and wetlands.  This talk explores the history of beavers in Colorado headwaters and why it makes sense to work with the ecosystem engineers as partners in restoration, rather than as products or tools for restoration.  We will discuss practical approaches to beaver-related restoration including beaver relocation/reintroduction, conflict resolution, mimicry, and treatments aimed at promoting beaver activity.  Partnering with beaver is an obvious, if not always easy, solution to restoring sustainable, resilient, naturally functioning headwaters streams and wetlands.

     

     

  • Provenance of a Riparian Shrub Changes Traits but Not Flood Response Under a Common Climatic Setting
     
    Emily Palmquist1,2, Kiona Ogle3, Bradley Butterfield4, Thomas Whitham5, Patrick Shafroth6, Gerard Allan7
     
    1 U.S. Geological Survey, Southwest Biological Science Center, Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center, Flagstaff, AZ, USA; epalmquist@usgs.gov
    2 Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, USA
    3 School of Informatics, Computing & Cyber Systems, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, USA; kiona.ogle@nau.edu
    4 Northern Arizona University, Center for Ecosystem Science and Society (ECOSS), Flagstaff, AZ, USA; bradley.butterfield@nau.edu
    5 Northern Arizona University, Center for Adaptable Western Landscapes (CAWL), Flagstaff, AZ, USA; thomas.whitham@nau.edu
    6 U.S. Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science Center, Fort Collins, CO, USA; shafrothp@usgs.gov
    7 Northern Arizona University, Center for Adaptable Western Landscapes (CAWL), Flagstaff, AZ, USA; Gerard.allan@nau.edu
     
    The last 20 years of research have shown that flood tolerance and genetically based local adaptation to temperature are key components of riparian plant growth and survival. Climate change and river regulation are altering both climate and flow regimes, such that over the next 20 years, riparian plants will experience simultaneous shifts in temperature and flooding. Within a species, individuals from provenances (places of origin) with differing temperatures can exhibit morphological and physiological variation, but it is unknown if genetically-based variation related to temperature can alter plant responses to flooding. Using a widespread, riparian shrub, Pluchea sericea (arrowweed), we address two hypotheses: 1) Individuals from different climate provenances will exhibit genetically-based differences in their physiological and morphological traits, and 2) Individuals from different provenances will differ in their responses to flooding. Arrowweed cuttings were collected from five provenances along the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, representing average annual air temperatures spanning 17.3 to 22.6 °C. Inside a greenhouse, one year old cuttings were subjected to different inundation depths ranging from the root crown fully submerged to fully out of the water for a duration of 3 months. A suite of morphological and physiological traits was measured to characterize plant responses, and a subset of individuals (90) was genotyped. Hierarchical, multivariate Bayesian linear regressions were used to evaluate the effects of provenance, flood depth, and their interactions on these responses. When the effect of inundation was accounted for, posterior distributions showed significant differences in many traits among provenances. Models that included both provenance and genotype as random effects were the best models (ΔDIC  = -13), suggesting that the combination of climate provenance and genotype partially controls many of these traits. Regressions indicated that greater flood depth reduced final height (mean effect size = -0.1), growth (-0.7), root weight (-1.2), above ground biomass (-1.2), total leaf area (-25.0), and average root diameter (-0.1). While plant size and growth were consistently different across provenances when flood effect was controlled, all provenances and genotypes responded to inundation in a similar manner. This suggests that while both climate provenance and flooding can alter plant traits, interactions between these two factors may not lead to unique provenance or genotype responses to flooding. For this common woody, riparian shrub, managing populations of the next 20 years for specific climate conditions or morphological traits shouldn’t compromise flood adaptations.
  • Conservation Corps and Riparian Restoration: Where We Came From
     
    Sean Damitz1
     
    1Utah Conservation Corps, Denver, CO, USA
     
    Abstract coming soon.
  • How Rivers and Floodplains Work-and How They Work Together
     
    Colin Thorne1
     
    1Wolf Water Resources
     

    The primary function of a river channel is to return water to the ocean after it has fallen as rain or snow. However, river channels do not operate alone in performing this function. While a great deal of the runoff from rain and snow quickly drains back to where it came from through the channel network, some of it flows through the hypo-rheos (literally, the ‘river below’), seeping more slowly through the porous alluvium below the river bed. Also, some runoff lingers on the river’s floodplains and in its wetlands: places where water is exchanged between the channel, the hyporhiec zone, and the regional groundwater. While rivers can, and often do, function independently, of their floodplains, wetlands and aquifers the hydro-system is more resilient when and where they are connected. This is because connected floodplains, wetlands and aquifers function as capacitors in the hydro-cycle by storing water during storms, then gradually releasing it during dry periods in ways that naturally modulate variability in river flow, soil moisture level and depth to groundwater. This presentation establishes that in the past most rivers and floodplains were connected, explains how and why many became disconnected, and evaluates the case for  reconnecting channel-floodplain-wetland systems where possible, to make rivers and their ecosystems resilient to future floods, droughts and wildfires. 

     
  •  
    Hobble Creek Delta Restoration 15 Years Later: Larvae, Leaves, and Lessons Learned
    Melissa Stamp1*, Keith Lawrence2*, David Lee2, Josee Seamons2, Sarah Seegert3
    1Utah Reclamation Mitigation and Conservation Commission, Salt Lake City, UT, USA; mstamp@usbr.gov
    2Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Springville, UT, USA; klawrence@utah.gov; davidlee@utah.gov; jseamons@utah.gov
    3Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Salt Lake City, UT, USA; sseegert@utah.gov
     
    In 2008, the June Sucker Recovery Implementation Program restored the delta of Hobble Creek, a tributary to Utah Lake. The goal of the restoration was to re-establish a spawning run and promote recruitment of June sucker, a federally-listed threatened fish species endemic to Utah Lake. This presentation describes how the restored habitat has changed and evolved since initial project construction; shares data and insights on June sucker adult, juvenile, and larval use of the habitat; and explores the challenges associated with vegetation management and stewardship of the site.
    Prior to restoration, Hobble Creek was channelized, leveed, disconnected from the lake and inaccessible to spawning June sucker. The restoration project converted a 21-acre field into a complex delta habitat with sinuous river channels, floodplain wetlands and ponds, and an open connection to the Provo Bay area of Utah Lake. Adult June sucker swam up the restored stream channel to spawn the first year after construction and monitoring has documented spawning runs each year since. Periodic monitoring has consistently documented larval production at the site as well. However, finding juvenile fish and documenting successful recruitment has proven more challenging. Other challenges include managing invasive weeds and non-native fish and evaluating whether processes like vegetation encroachment and beaver activity threaten habitat quality and connectivity. Fluctuating lake level also presents challenges to maintaining the restoration site and providing access for spawning June sucker. Lessons learned from Hobble Creek are particularly important as the Recovery Program moves into its third year of construction of the 260-acre Provo River Delta Restoration Project, a similar but much larger scale June sucker restoration effort.
  • Lessons Learned for Riparian Habitat Restoration Along the Rio Grande in Southern New Mexico and West Texas
     
    Elizabeth Verdeccia1
     
    1International Boundary and Water Commission, US Section, Environmental Management Division, El Paso, TX, USA; elizabeth.verdecchia@ibwc.gov
     
    The U.S. Section of International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC) shares lessons learned from a ten-year implementation of riparian habitat restoration on nearly two dozen sites throughout the Rio Grande Canalization Project (RGCP) in southern New Mexico and west Texas.
    In 2009, USIBWC signed the Record of Decision (ROD) on River Management Alternatives of the RGCP, which committed the USIBWC to implement environmental measures for long-term river management of the RGCP, including restoring 553 acres of riparian habitat and developing an environmental water program.
    Conditions along the arid RGCP are challenging for restoration. The scarce water is held back at dams until irrigation season begins. During the non-irrigation season, shallow groundwater drops substantially (at some sites groundwater levels have dropped nearly 13 feet), rising again only when the river is turned on again at the (unpredictable and variable) start of irrigation, and the season is increasingly shorter. Despite the harsh conditions, the USIBWC partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and environmental contractors to restore 22 sites. Work included saltcedar removal, earthwork, planting of native trees and shrubs, construction of irrigation infrastructure and shallow groundwater wells, and monitoring activities. Over the 10-year project implementation, the USIBWC planted over 110,000 trees and over 11,000 shrubs at restoration sites (and 36,000 more trees and nearly 1,000 shrubs at additional mitigation areas along the river). Earthwork included site grading, creation of terraces and inset floodplains, and excavation of swales and depressions in the floodplain to improve drainage and groundwater conditions near plantings.  Tree planting methods included augering holes for poles or tall pots, excavating trenches for poles, and transplanting willows with root balls and topsoil intact into trenches dug down to groundwater.
    Implementing such projects has led to a trove of lessons learned. Monitoring wells showed that trenches and augered holes should be at least ten feet deep for trees to survive groundwater fluctuations. When planting cottonwood or willow poles in augered holes, success was greatest when holes were completely backfilled with minimal air pockets. Cottonwoods did better in sandy soils than clay. Success varied for poles planted in trenches, likely dependent on effective backfilling. When trenched poles survived, tree density was higher than for auger methods. Trench planting willows harvested with root balls had near 100% success and resulted in faster growth and higher density and coverage than all other methods. Shrubs grown in specially-grown extra tall pots (about two feet deep) had higher success rates than standard tall pots (about 1 feet deep). Shrubs with a bowl excavated around its base also survived better.  Trees and shrubs planted in excavated swales or terraces typically had better success. An inset floodplain experienced a high-flow event that wiped out many young trees during monsoon season. USIBWC also learned lessons for dealing with illicit all-terrain vehicle and motor-cross use in the floodplain. 
    Five of USIBWC’s restoration sites have been irrigated with surface water. All of the irrigated sites are exhibiting greater success of plantings in the areas where irrigation water has been applied.  Certain irrigation techniques have worked better, including creating irrigation cells and using large PVC pipes for directing water against gravity, via pressure.
    USIBWC continues to conduct monitoring of the success of the habitat sites and adaptively manage for sites’ success. Some sites have begun to develop habitat that could eventually support endangered southwest willow flycatchers or the threatened yellow billed cuckoo.
  • Stream Management Plans in Colorado: Progress at 5 Years
     
    Nicole Seltzer1, Stacy Beaugh2, Kim Lennberg3
     
    1River Network, Oak Creek, CO, USA; nseltzer@rivernetwork.org
    2Strategic By Nature, Inc., Durango, CO, USA; stacy@bestrategicbynature.com
    3Alba Watershed Consulting, Louisville, CO, USA; kim@albawatershedconsulting.com
     
    Stream Management Plans (SMPs) are a priority in Colorado’s Water Plan, and local coalitions have stepped up!  To date, twenty-six plans are completed or in process across the state, resulting in over 250 project recommendations. River Network’s focus on increasing the quality and quantity of SMPs through initiating plans, documenting approaches and lessons learned and connecting practitioners in a peer learning network makes it uniquely positioned to report on progress-to-date. We will present information on overall results, success factors, ongoing challenges, and recommendations to maximize the impact of SMPs going forward.
    SMPs offer a unique lesson and opportunity by demonstrating how practitioners, water users, and decision makers use science to make local decisions on water management. SMP outcomes include flow targets, better stakeholder engagement, river health assessments, and increased data and knowledge. We will share not only the impact of the program in the last five years, but ideas to influence the update of Colorado’s Water Plan that will equip local coalitions with the resources they need to continue protecting and improving their rivers.
  • Navajo River Improvement Project
     
    Jerry Archuleta1
     
    1Natural Resource Conservation Service
     
    The San Juan Conservation District (SJCD) and the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) partnered with local landowners to help alleviate the consequences the Oso Diversion is having on the Navajo River’s ecosystem.
    The Oso Diversion was installed in the 1960’s to divert water from the Navajo River to the Rio Chama Watershed for domestic and agricultural use in New Mexico. This diversion eliminated flushing flows and the Navajo River now consistently flows 55-85 cfs. Sediment that passes through the Oso diversion is very fine, causing the stream channel to become embrocated (like concrete). These lower flows have resulted in shallower stream depths and a higher temperature environment less suitable for aquatic habitat. The diversity of habitat structure types is limited and the river, for the most part, is one long riffle with few deep pools. The riparian area along the river has been reduced to a thin strip along the banks, due to the absence of periodic flooding of the floodplain, management practices along the river and development pressures. This has also adversely affected the off-channel wetland habitat within the river system.
    NRCS, in conjunction with the San Juan Conservation District and other partners, held several meetings with property owners along the Navajo River to discuss their concerns about the current state of the river. Meetings were also held with potential partners of this project including the Bureau of Reclamation, Chama Peak Land Alliance and US Fish and Wildlife Service. A field review was conducted of the current condition of the river and this data was used to develop a plan with treatment alternatives for restoration of the river. These alternatives, along with cost estimates, were presented to the property owners for their consideration. The landowners then chose from the alternatives, based on their concerns and financial resources. The San Juan Conservation District then submitted a Targeted Conservation Proposal with the total project cost estimate to NRCS to restore this portion of the Navajo River.
    Requested funding was used to provide assistance to the landowners along the Navajo River, to implement practices to improve the instream aquatic habitat, riparian and wetland areas. Diversity was created in habitat structure by installing rock and wood structures to increase channel depth, pool habitat and in-stream meandering. The riparian area was increased and improved by fencing out livestock along the river to control grazing and through the planting of woody vegetation, such as willows and cottonwoods. Shallow wetlands were created by enhancing low areas and installing small channels to and from these areas to the river. These wetlands, along with the entrance and exit channels, provided fish spawning habitat and increased habitat for the Northern Leopard Frog and migratory waterfowl.
    We are working in a landscape that is fortunate to have a network of landowners working collaboratively across their fence lines. The Jicarilla Apache Tribe has completed significant amounts of stream restoration work on lower portions of the river in NM targeted at development of Roundtail Chub habitat, so we are in a sense coordinating across borders.
  • Riparian Land Cover Classification to Guide Conservation and Restoration of the Lower White River, Utah
    William W. Macfarlane1*, Kevin Urbanczyk2, Sam Burch3
    1 Ecogeomorphology and Topographic Analysis Laboratory, Utah State University; wally.macfarlane@usu.edu
    2 Rio Grande Research Center, Sul Ross State University; kevinu@sulross.edu;
    3 Rio Grande Research Center, Sul Ross State University; sburch101@gmail.com 
     

    Increasing human demands for water threaten rivers and their associated riparian and aquatic ecosystems across the western US. Channel narrowing, an ecological response to reduced streamflow, which is enhanced by nonnative plant invasions can greatly reduce channel complexity and aquatic habitat for endangered native fishes. Such degradation poses significant resource concerns and has necessitated the development of a new conservation and restoration plan on the lower White River, Utah to prioritize reaches and sites for a variety of restoration actions. A riverscape-wide land cover classification was developed in order to properly inform such restoration actions. This project resulted in a high resolution (0.6 m), highly accurate land cover map (77.6% accuracy) of 77 km of a section of the lower White River using a combination of field data, freely available imagery, Object-Based Image Analysis techniques and overflight imagery. The resulting land cover classification was used to guide large-scale restoration prioritization as well as nonnative vegetation eradication to reduce further channel narrowing and promotion of healthy cottonwood stands at specific geomorphic features for the formation and maintenance of complex instream habitats formed from wood jams. The cost effective high-resolution riparian land cover classification and conservation/restoration framework can be applied to other riverscapes in the western US.

  • Hydrologic and Geomorphic Effects on Riparian Plant Species Occurrence and Encroachment: Remote Sensing of 360km of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon
     
    Laura Durning1, Joel Sankey2, Charles Yackulic3, Paul Grams4, Bradley Butterfield5, Temuulen Sankey6
     
    1School of Earth and Sustainability, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, USA; ldurning@usgs.gov
    2US Geological Survey, Southwest Biological Science Center, Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center, Flagstaff, AZ, USA; jsankey@usgs.gov
    3US Geological Survey, Southwest Biological Science Center, Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center, Flagstaff, AZ, USA; cyackulic@usgs.gov
    4US Geological Survey, Southwest Biological Science Center, Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center, Flagstaff, AZ, USA; pgrams@usgs.gov
    5Center for Ecosystem Science and Society (ECOSS) and Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, USA; bjbutterfield@gmail.com
    6School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, USA, temuulen.sankey@nau.edu
     
    A common impact on riparian ecosystem function following river regulation is the expansion and encroachment of riparian plant species in the active river channels and floodplain, which reduces flow of water and suspended sediment between the river, riparian area, and upland ecosystems. We characterized riparian plant species occurrence and quantified encroachment within the dam-regulated Colorado River in Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA. We mapped 10 riparian species with high-resolution multispectral imagery and examined effects of river hydrology and geomorphology on the spatial distribution of plant species and open sand. Analysis spanned an image time-series from 2002-2009-2013; a period when plant species and sand were spatially dynamic and operations of Glen Canyon Dam included daily hydro-peaking and small episodic controlled flood releases. Plant species occurrence and encroachment rates varied with hydrology, geomorphology, and local species pool. Encroachment was greatest on surfaces frequently inundated by hydro-peaking. Seep willow (Baccharis spp.), tamarisk (Tamarix spp.) and arrowweed (Pluchea sericea) were the primary encroaching woody species. Common reed (Phragmites australis) and horsetail (Equisetum xferrissii) were the primary encroaching herbaceous species. Encroachment composition from 2002 to 2009 was similar to the entire riparian landscape, whereas encroachment from 2009 to 2013 primarily consisted of seep willow and early-colonizing herbaceous species. Emergence of seep willow and arrowweed after burial by sand deposited by controlled floods indicated that those species were resilient to this form of disturbance. Describing patterns of species encroachment is an important step towards designing flow regimes that favor riparian species and ecosystem functions valued by stakeholders.

     

     

  • Home and Garden: Transplanted Cottonwood Trees Show Plasticity In Leaf Hyperspectral Reflectance Across An Environmental Gradient
     
    Jaclyn PM Corbin1,2, Rebecca J Best2,3, Hillary F Cooper2,3, Catherine A Gehring1,2, Gery Allen1,2, Thomas G Whitham1,2
     
    1 Department of Biological Science, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA; jmcorbin@nau.edu
    2 Center for Adaptable Western Landscapes, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA
    3 School of Earth & Sustainability, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA
     
    We investigated leaf hyperspectral reflectance between wild tree populations and transplanted clones to explore the plasticity of leaf spectra and their relationship to commonly measured traits. Plant functional traits are informative yet difficult to measure at the landscape scale; we explore whether these traits are detectable using leaf spectra and if spectral signatures vary between wild and transplanted trees.  In this experiment, we collected ground-based hyperspectral leaf reflectance data from wild populations of Fremont cottonwood (Populus fremontii) and compared them to clones in three reciprocally planted common gardens across this species’ range. Our questions were: Are leaf spectra plastic? Do leaf spectra reveal genetic, environmental and GxE effects on tree leaves? Lastly, is tree performance predictable using leaf reflectance? Our study revealed three major patterns. 1) Populations and genotypes vary in their plasticity. Such phenotypic differences may be due to selection by the local environment, an innate genetic predisposition for being plastic, or both. 2) Specific leaf area (SLA) can be predicted at the population and genotype level using the visible light and short-wave infrared bands. Thus, leaf spectra can serve as a surrogate for a key ecological trait. 3) Tree performance (biomass, height, and number of stems) is predictable using leaf reflectance. As such, hyperspectral data may be an important tool for monitoring wild tree population success. We conclude that leaf reflectance is a tractable method for predicting plastic traits at a landscape scale. As environmental conditions continue to rapidly shift due to global climate change, accounting for the flexibility of phenotype in response to novel extremes will allow ecologists to assess possible short and long-term fitness outcomes with more accuracy. We discuss the plasticity of leaf reflectance and its correlation with key functional traits as a robust tool to explore gene by environment interactions. 
  • The Lower Gila River Collaborative: Lessons from a Diverse Multi-Stakeholder Partnership to Bring Back the Lower Gila River
     
    Kelly Wolff1, Spencer Bolen2, Mark Briggs3, Woodrow Crubmo4, Robert Lamoureux4, Melissa A McCann5, Theresa Pinto2
     
    1Arizona Game and Fish Department
    2Flood Control District, Maricopa County
    3RiversEdge West
    4Gila River Indian Community
    5Arizona State University
     
    The lower Gila River stretches from the City of Phoenix, west to the historic Gillespie Dam Bridge. Although modified by a variety of human-related activities, this critical reach provides habitat for a variety of native species as well as numerous opportunities for local citizens and visitors, including bird watching, fishing, kayaking, and more.  The Lower Gila River Collaborative (LGRC) is a decade old, diverse, ongoing forum for collaboration, coordination, and outreach among local governments, the Gila River Indian Community, state agencies, NGOs, and the private sector that provides opportunities for communities to get to know their backyard river, while improving wildlife habitat and restoring river flows. In this presentation, we will discuss the importance of collaboration, which has produced numerous results as well as lessons learned, including the importance of:
    1. Gathering information about the river and conveying it in creative and diverse ways to the public
    2. Conducting the needed science to understand current river conditions and trends
    3. Having dedicated facilitation to help plan, organize and synthesize results of meetings and collaborative events
    4. Implementing pilot restoration projects that provide tangible results to garner support for larger scale efforts that will have greater impact.

     

  • Unauthorized Human Use Impacts on Riparian/Stream Restoration
     
    Linnea Spears-Lebrun1
     
    1SWCA, Durango, CO, USA; linnea.spears-lebrun@swca.com
     
    Humans use natural areas for authorized activities such as recreation, solitude, and education but also for many unauthorized uses including trails, off-roading, dumping, illicit activities and homes. Authorized uses are generally factored into the land use planning and management of a project. However, unauthorized uses can have a wide range of unaccounted for detrimental effects on ecosystems, with a disproportionate impact on riparian habitats in urban settings. These types of impacts have increased over the past 20 years and need to be part of the planning over the next 20 years. This presentation will explore the types of human disturbances that should be considered when selecting a site, evaluating risk, estimating costs for maintenance (short and long-term), and setting success standards.
  • What Makes Collaborative Partnerships Strong and Long Lasting? Lessons-Learned from Collaborative Partnerships
     
    Rusty Lloyd1
     
    1RiversEdge West, Grand Junction, CO, USA; Rlloyd@riversedgewest.org
     
     
    For over a decade, RiversEdge West (REW) has formed collaborative partnerships with a variety of watershed groups in the four-corner states of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.  Such collaboration is certainly not unique. Indeed, organizations, state and federal agencies, institutions and others form partnerships throughout the world in pursuit of common goals. When successful, such partnerships can accomplish goals that often would be impossible to realize independently. What are key ingredients of successful collaborative partnerships? When collaborative partnerships are not successful, are there lessons to take stock of for the future?  Beginning in the summer of 2020, REW initiated a ‘lessons learned’ study to take stock of the body of collaborative conservation work between REW and its watershed partners in the four-corner states. Interviews were conducted with executive directors and staff of X # of organizations to understand how well REW and watershed groups collaborated together on key priorities. What worked well? What did not?  If we had to do it all over again, what would we do differently? Although the information gathered from the interviews relates to the qualities of collaboration between REW and its watershed partners, the lessons learned and other key findings have broad implications for collaborative partnerships everywhere.
     
    Key findings of the lessons learned study include:  
    •    The importance of forming mutual strong mission statement and sense of purpose, backed by goals with sufficient detail to allow progress toward realizing them to be quantified;  
    •    Understanding the time needed to form successful partnerships. Strong collaborative partnerships do not happen overnight. Relationships and trust have to be developed first; 
    •    Meetings, jointly conducted pilot projects and fund-raising, and short-term agreements can foster the foundational trust needed for long lasting and successful collaborative partnerships; 
    •    The formation of mutual realistic, near-term objectives, and celebrating their achievement, fosters excitement for realizing longer term and more impactful collaborative goals; 
    •    Particularly for collaborative partnerships that involve multiple players, having an outside facilitator that leads meetings, keeps track of outcomes, holds participants accountable for commitments, among other considerations, is essential for success. 

     
    As part of this presentation, these and other findings from the lessons learned study will be summarized in the context of looking at specific partnerships and the key ingredients that allowed them to realize mutual conservation goals. 
  • Using Ecological Connectivity as a Basis for the Watershed Integrity of Western US Waters

    Mark T. Murphy 1

    1 NV5, Inc., Tucson, Arizona, mark.murphy@nv5.com

    With the recently (11/21) proposed draft rule defining Waters of the US (WOTUS) offered by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Army Corps of Engineers (the Agencies), the “new” test of Clean Water Act (CWA) applicability has returned to the “old,” science-based significant nexus analysis (SNA) that was used prior to 2015. No doubt, the Agencies will be offering guidance documents on how to complete SNAs; however, in 2015, the Agencies published an extensive review[1] (the Connectivity Report) on how streams under the jurisdiction of the CWA ecologically depend upon their watershed, including those streams that only flow during rain events (aka, ephemeral waters) and those that only flow because of treated effluent, agricultural return flows or other discharged water (effluent-dependent waters, EDWs). Given the exhaustive amount of research described in the Connectivity Report, and the many research projects over the last six years adding to the report’s conclusions, the Connectivity Report will almost certainly be the core of this future guidance.

    Over the last two years, NV5 has assisted clients in using the Connectivity Report to evaluate the health of two southern Arizona streams, an ephemeral stream (San Pedro River near Benson, Arizona) and an EDW (Santa Cruz River flowing through urban Tucson).  Specifically, we employed the flow pathway approach of the Connectivity Report to analyze the hydrological, hydrochemical, and hydrobiological, surface-water-mediated ecological connections, as individual and interactive transport mechanisms. We also examined “regional waters similarly situated,” as the SNA requires, focusing on ephemeral tributaries downstream of and within the studied reaches. Connections were defined by cause-and-effect couples that produced a potentially measurable individual or cumulative impact on the ecology of the studied reaches.

    The exercise worked well, although the analysis benefitted from the subject of much peer-reviewed research and a long USGS stream-gage data archive. Applications in other watersheds may be limited where data is scarce. Nevertheless, the science and logic of ecological connectivity clearly seems to be the proper way to frame CWA applicability.         

     

    [1] Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence, https://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/risk/recordisplay.cfm?deid=296414

     

  •  
    Challenges in mapping and evaluating groundwater dependent ecosystems in California
    Christian Braudrick1 and Bruce Orr1
    1. Stillwater Sciences, 2855 Telegraph Ave. Suite 400, Berkeley CA, 94705
    As part of California’ Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), groundwater sustainability agencies are required to identify groundwater-dependent ecosystems (GDEs) and consider GDEs when developing criteria for sustainability. We mapped GDEs in eight groundwater basins throughout California following procedures outlined by the Nature Conservancy. Challenges to identifying GDEs ranged from varied quality and age of vegetation and wetland inventory maps and a paucity of shallow groundwater measurements. Old or poor-quality vegetation and wetland maps make it challenging to delineate vegetation and wetland boundaries under current conditions and to assess the likely rooting depth of dominant vegetation (a key factor in assessing likely connection of vegetation to shallow groundwater), thereby requiring additional effort to update and refine the mapping using recent aerial photographs. While poor vegetation and wetland maps were a challenge, by far the bigger challenge to identifying GDEs was uncertainty in shallow groundwater depth. Most groundwater wells in the basins we studied were much deeper than 100 ft, well below  the rooting depth of vegetation. In basins with complex aquifer conditions (e.g., frequent clay layers) the lack of shallow groundwater measurements make assessing the connection to groundwater very difficult. Identifying the degree to which other sources of water are important ic, an also be very challenging, particularly where depth to groundwater is uncertain. Other sources of water potentially sufficient to support phreatophytes include agricultural and urban runoff, losing streams (which may be connected to groundwater upstream), and rainfall. One of the advantages of SGMA is that the GDE maps can be revised as more data become available during subsequent monitoring. In several of our projects additional groundwater monitoring is currently being implemented to better understand where and when groundwater is supporting GDEs and interconnected surface water.
    Changes to vegetation greenness, as assessed using the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI ), can be used to for basin-scale monitoring of GDE health through time. For riparian GDEs, changes to vegetation associated with channel migration and avulsion make tracking individual polygons through time difficult, especially in larger and more dynamic rivers. This is particularly problematic in braided rivers where morphological changes following floods can be profound. NDVI analysis that looks at overall changes coupled with changes to individual vegetation units can help to address this uncertainty.
  •  
    Wildfire Ready Watersheds
     
    Chris Sturm1
    1Watershed Program Director, Colorado Water Conservation Board
     
    Wildfire Ready Watersheds is a strategy and program developed by the Colorado Water Conservation Board that provides a proactive approach to address post wildfire impacts. Impacts are defined as risks posed by post fire hazards to community values such as water supplies, life and property, and transportation corridors. Common post fire hazards include increased runoff, debris flows, hillslope erosion, water quality impairments, flooding, and associated sediment erosion and deposition. The mission of Wildfire Ready Watersheds is to assess the susceptibility of Colorado’s water resources, communities, and critical infrastructure to post-wildfire impacts and advance a framework for communities to plan and implement mitigation strategies to minimize these impacts – before wildfires occur.
     
    Wildfire Ready Watersheds is currently under development and has a two-part focus: (1) a statewide post-fire susceptibility analysis and (2) a framework that communities can use to perform watershed scale planning to address post fire hazards. Elements of the framework could also be used for communities after wildfires occur, but the focus of Wildfire Ready Watersheds is to mitigate those hazards before such an event. The susceptibility analysis is composed of several phases; data collection, data development, analysis, mapping, and reporting. This effort will rely on existing and new statewide datasets for wildfire hazards, critical water supplies, populations at risk, and other infrastructure layers. The data is being used to perform a susceptibility analysis that intersects post fire hazards with known values/assets at risk to determine impacts to life safety, infrastructure, and property. This will serve to further an understanding of which watersheds will be most susceptible to post wildfire impacts and where community stakeholders should focus their efforts in their wildfire mitigation efforts.
    The framework will further describe and provide guidance on how to refine the susceptibility evaluations for local communities to utilize at watershed scales. It will serve as a guide for best planning practices in advance of a wildfire and will also support post-fire mitigation strategies. This includes data collection and GIS preparedness, permitting and compliance, stakeholder development, hazard analysis and evaluations, engineering/modeling, pre and post fire management actions, design, and construction. Design and construction will include project types that can be implemented before and after wildfire. Many projects implemented after a fire are for immediate protection of life, property, and water supplies and have limited success as they are treating point of impact type problems with little regard to watershed health or stream function. Projects constructed before fire provide the same or better protections while also addressing multiple objectives in watershed health and water supply protection. These project types are designed to protect and enhance ecosystem structure and function within the watershed drainage network. Most implementation strategies will involve a mosaic of different project types employed across the watershed.

     

  • Gathering Information on the Future of Snow and Water for Adaptation Planning on National Forests
     
    Charles Luce1
     
    1U.S. Forest Service
     
    As the climate changes, the US Forest Service is considering how climate change is expected to affect water resources when developing Forest Plans and Project Plans. Consideration of Climate Change is a requirement of the 2012 planning rule, and there is a need for authoritative, easily accessed, and easily applied information about expected changes for National Forest planners, watershed, fish, and wildlife specialists, along with interested stakeholders.  In broad terms, increased carbon dioxide is warming air temperatures, leading to observations of and expectations for warmer streams, reduced snowpacks, increased wildfire risk, and altered streamflow characteristics.  Each of these, in turn is expected to affect species distributions, biotic interactions, migration, and population viability. Evaluating these changes and preparing to adapt to them is a complex process of considering how global-scale changes manifest at regional levels and how those changes will play out for local watersheds, ecosystems, and the people who live in them.  The question is complex not just in terms of the natural history, but in navigating the many potential sources of information.
     
    One tool developed by Forest Service Research and Office of Sustainability and Climate is a set of maps of expected changes in temperature, precipitation characteristics, snowpack storage metrics, stream temperature measures, and a suite of streamflow metrics. All calculations are based on well-vetted downscaling methods and snowpack, hydrology, and temperature models backed by substantial peer reviewed research.  The maps are updated as time and supporting data allow.  Climate and snowpack metrics are provided on 4-km grids while streamflow and temperature data are provided on National Hydrography Dataset stream segments.  This map resolution is intended to provide specialists and managers with enough information to understand general expectations of differences and variations in climate and water changes across important gradients within each National Forest System unit. 
     
    This tool provides a simple entrée for people with diverse scientific backgrounds to local estimates of terrain dependent effects on snow and water at the scale of a National Forest. This scale offers stakeholders and personnel a perspective on potential changes couched in terms of landscapes with which they are familiar, provoking curiosity and insights about how basic changes in water balance and timing might affect resources and infrastructure in which they are interested. In this way, we seek to encourage a coproduction of understanding by leveraging maps that have a somewhat general climatological basis against local professional and stakeholder knowledge about resources and their sensitivities to produce assessments of vulnerability and plans for adaptation.
  • Cottonwood Trees Vary in their Leaf Hydraulic Architecture Traits when Grown at the Extreme Hot Edge of their Range
     
    Iris Garthwaite1*, Rebecca Best2
     
    1. School of Earth and Sustainability, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ USA;  ig334@nau.edu
    2. School of Earth and Sustainability, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ USA; Rebecca.Best@nau.edu
     
     
    Climate means, extremes, and variability are shifting rapidly, which will likely result in mismatches between climate and locally adapted plant traits. Phenotypic plasticity, the ability for a plant to respond to environmental conditions within a lifetime (e.g., by adjusting the types of leaves they make each year), may provide a buffer for plants to persist under rapid environmental change. We used three common gardens to investigate phenotypic plasticity for six populations of Fremont cottonwood (Populus fremontii), an important riparian tree. We focused on the plasticity of leaf venation, a multivariate trait that is linked to plant performance and tolerance to environmental stress. We found that 1) Populations responded differently to a hotter growing environment, with some increasing and some decreasing the density of their leaf venation; 2) Even within populations, vein density also differed among genotypes in the hottest environment; 3) Locally adapted hot populations trended toward greater vein density and higher growth in the hottest environment compared to northern populations. Past studies indicate that high vein density is associated with a suite of characteristics that are likely to support survival in hotter and drier climates (i.e., high leaf hydraulic conductance, high stomatal density, and drought resistance). Results from this study suggest that different P. fremontii populations will vary in their capacity to adjust their leaf venation and support growth in a novel hot environment.  Survivorship modeling efforts, restoration project managers, and assisted migration initiatives should consider genetic stock, growing conditions, and multiple dimensions of environmental stress early in the research and planning process to improve predictions and enhance restoration outcomes.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
  • A Score of Changes and More in Store

    Dave Kanzer1

     

    1Colorado River District

     

    Old timers (now=me) know that ‘time is a jet plane; it moves too fast’.

    New timers (maybe = you), may not realize that Bob Dylan was talking to you, when he penned these classic lyrics in 1975.

    And, although he didn’t say it, Dylan knew that when that jet lands, it lands in a different world from whence it took off.

    In the 20 years that REW has been jetting through time, mitigating and adapting, the world has dramatically changed. And when this conference lands, it lands in a way different place. Just consider, at the beginning of 2002, most Colorado River Basin reservoirs were near full, rules for surplus water supplies just finalized, and the term aridification was reserved for the Sahara desert.  

    Today, the Colorado system storage stands at less than 28% of capacity with a forecasted 90% probability that critical power generation protection levels at Lake Powell will be broken this year and response plans are being rolled out for Tier 2 water shortage being declared in central Arizona.

    And with projections that warming will continue across the Colorado River Basin, changes are coming to Western Colorado. Many climate scientists project that the worst drought since 800 AD will continue into the next 20 years, with significant impacts to our rivers and environment that will require changes to our historical practices.

    It is beyond time to plan for a different world.

  • Water Stress in Riparian Woodlands from Groundwater Decline and Climate Change –Ecosystem Indicators at Multiple Scales
     
     
    John C. Stella1*, Jared Williams1, Christopher Kibler2, Melissa M. Rohde1, Lissa Pelletier1, Michael Singer2,3, Dar Roberts2, Adam Lambert2, Kelly Caylor2
     
    1State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
    2University of California, Santa Barbara
    3Cardiff University
     
    Though riparian woodlands are thought to be buffered against water stress by their landscape position and favorable hydrology, climate change and groundwater extraction increasingly threaten their long-term sustainability, particularly in drylands globally. Here we synthesize findings on the water stress response of riparian woodlands during and after the exceptional California (USA) drought of 2012–2019 from concurrent studies at different spatial and temporal scales. We coupled tree-ring studies from riparian stands along the Santa Clara River in Southern California with a basin-scale remote sensing investigation and a state-wide satellite imagery analysis to compare the timing and severity among indicators, and as well as ecosystem resilience. Tree-ring analyses revealed strong reductions in radial growth and carbon isotope discrimination as well as enrichment in δ18O during the driest years, indicating severe drought stress which was determined more by the rate of groundwater decline than by climate drivers. This pattern was reinforced at the landscape scale, where we observed decreased canopy greenness and increased dead biomass progressing downstream as a “brown wave” from 2012 to 2016. Immediately after the drought, individual trees showed strong recovery of canopy-integrated leaf gas exchange, as indicated by tree-ring Δ13C and δ18O, as well as radial growth, except at sites subjected to the greatest water stress. Overall there were consistent relationships between groundwater depth, healthy vegetation cover, and tree growth and function, indicating that woodland health deteriorated in a predictable fashion as the water table declined at different sites and different times. The statewide analysis of Sentinel satellite imagery reinforced these results, showing woodland stress responses to deeper groundwater across all riparian ecotypes, as evidenced by concurrent declines in NDVI. Furthermore, we found greater seasonal coupling of canopy greenness to groundwater for vegetation along streams with natural flow regimes in comparison with anthropogenically altered streams, particularly in the most water-limited regions. Together these studies pave the way for developing complementary climate and groundwater sensitivity indicators to help manage vulnerable riparian woodlands experiencing global change.
     
    Abstract type: Oral preferred (Powerpoint)
    Session topic: Climate Change and Adaptation
  • Seasonal variation in stomatal sensitivity to atmospheric aridity between native and non-native riparian tree species in the western US
     
    Susan E. Bush1,2, Jessica S. Guo3, Kevin R. Hultine1
     
    1Department of Research, Conservation, and Collections, Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, AZ 85008, USA
     
    2Department of Biological Sciences, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA
     
    3Arizona Experiment Station, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA, jessicaguo@email.arizona.edu
     
     
    Riparian forests are among the most productive and biodiverse ecosystems of the arid western US, yet their future community structure and function is uncertain given past and ongoing introduction of non-native species as well as increasing aridity with climate change. Because plant stomata dynamically regulate carbon uptake with water supply, quantifying species-specific stomatal sensitivity to atmospheric aridity (atmospheric vapor pressure deficit, D) is a necessary component for predicting possible future changes in groundwater dependent ecosystems across the western US landscape. Using sap-flux data for nine dominant riparian species from four sites spanning an elevation gradient in northern Utah, we fit a time-varying empirical model of stomatal conductance to D. Species included seven native species with diffuse-porous wood anatomy (Acer grandidentatum, Populus angustifolia, Betula occidentalis, Acer negundo, Salix hybrid, Populus hybrid, Populus fremontii) and two non-native species with ring-porous wood anatomy (Tamarix ramosissima, Elaeagnus angustifolia). Our results showed three patterns of standardized stomatal sensitivity (S) with cumulative D over time. All native, diffuse-porous species showed either a positive correlation between S and cumulative D or no change in S with cumulative D over time. In contrast, the two ring-porous, invasive species showed a negative correlation between S and cumulative D over time. These results are among the first to demonstrate that stomatal sensitivity to D can vary significantly over the course of a single growing season and may have important implications for future tree community structure in western riparian forests. Given that the two ring-porous, non-native species were the only species to show decreasing S with cumulative D over time indicates that a progressive increase in aridity across the western US could amplify the competitiveness of these two highly invasive tree species relative to native tree taxa.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
  •  

    Rebecca Mitchell (Becky) serves as the Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) as well as the Colorado Commissioner to the Upper Colorado River Commission. She is an accomplished water leader with over 20 years of experience in the water sector and highly knowledgeable in Colorado water law. Mitchell played a significant role in developing the Colorado Water Plan, working with the state’s nine basin roundtables, the Interbasin Compact Committee, and the public. She has worked in both the public and private sector as a consulting engineer; she received both her B.S. and M.S. from the Colorado School of Mines. 

     

  • Tamarisk Beetle Monitoring: Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Diorhabda Carinulata Abundance and Tamarisk Defoliation in Grand County, Utah, 2007-2021

     

    Tim B. Graham1*, Wright W. Robinson2, Tim Higgs2, Gery Wakefield3

    1Dept. of Geography, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84532, and Grand County Weed Department; lasius17@gmail.com

    2Grand County Weed Department, 125 E. Center St., Moab, Utah 84532; and 3Southeast Utah Group, National Park Service, 2282 S. Resource Blvd, Moab, Utah 84532

     

    Diorhabda carinulata, the northern tamarisk beetle, was introduced at three locations in Grand County in 2004.  By August of 2006 it was obvious the beetle was well-established and already significantly affecting tamarisk at and beyond the release sites.  Quantitative monitoring began in 2007 and has continued through 2021, providing a record of abundance and distribution across Grand County.  Beetle numbers increased dramatically through 2012, but beetles were rare by the end of the 2012 activity period.  It appeared the population began to collapse in 2013, with extremely low numbers in 2014 and 2015.  In 2016, there was a large increase in both adults and larvae compared to 2014 and 2015.  Total counts of adults and larvae have slowly increased from 2016 to 2021 by which time numbers of adults and larvae had recovered to about 62% and 47 % of the high numbers recorded in 2012 just before the population collapse.  We present results of beetle monitoring and canopy foliage condition over the past 15 years looking for pattern(s) that might provide insights into mechanisms driving beetle population dynamics (e.g., food availability, distance between remaining tamarisk stands, weather) and guidance for how to management tamarisk as a relatively minor component of riparian plant communities now and into the future.

     

     

     

  • The Upper San Pedro: Concerted Long-Term Measures to Preserve its Riparian Treasure
    David C. Goodrich and a Cast of Hundreds
    USDA-Agricultural Research Service
    Southwest Watershed Research Center, Tucson, AZ
     
    The Upper San Pedro Basin, spanning the Mexico – U.S. border from Sonora to Arizona contains a vibrant riparian corridor. The ecological significance of its riparian corridor is well recognized. There is also recognition that the health of its riparian system is also threatened by over pumping. This presentation will provide background on the Upper San Pedro Basin and trace the extraordinary efforts undertaken to understand the basin’s hydrology and riparian water needs well as the efforts on the part of residents of the basin and a wide array of stakeholders. It will discuss the transition through science and research for understanding; to science for addressing a need; to integrated policy development and science. At each stage the research conducted becomes more interdisciplinary, first across abiotic disciplines (hydrology, remote sensing, atmospheric science), then a merging of abiotic disciplines with ecology and plant physiology, and finally a further merging with the social sciences and policy and decision making for resource management. The self-organized Upper San Pedro Partnership (USPP -  http://www.usppartnership.com/), and the Cochise Conservation & Recharge Network (CCRN - https://ccrnsanpedro.org/) have played critical roles moving conservation and preservation efforts of the San Pedro Riparian forward. The purpose of the USPP is to coordinate and cooperate in the implementation of comprehensive policies and projects to meet the long-term water needs of residents within the U.S. side of the basin and of the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. The Partnership consists of 21 local, state, and Federal agencies, NGO's and a development interest. The Partnership is dedicated to science-based decision making. Federal, university, and NSF SAHRA Science and Technology Center research was planned and conducted directly with the USPP. An important research result was the development of metrics based on easily monitored hydrologic data indicating the health of riparian reaches that are still monitored today. The CCRN is a collaborative partnership consisting of Ft. Huachuca, the City of Sierra Vista, Cochise County and the US Bureau of Land Management that began in 2015 to utilize research and monitoring results to implement tangible water projects to increase water availability to meet future water demands of the riparian area and the basin.
     
  • Lessons Learned for Riparian Habitat Restoration Along the Rio Grande in Southern New Mexico and West Texas
     
    Elizabeth Verdecchia1
     
    1. International Boundary and Water Commission, U.S. Section, Environmental Management Division, El Paso TX, elizabeth.verdecchia@ibwc.gov
     
    The U.S. Section of International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC) shares lessons learned from a ten-year implementation of riparian habitat restoration on nearly two dozen sites throughout the Rio Grande Canalization Project (RGCP) in southern New Mexico and west Texas.
     
    In 2009, USIBWC signed the Record of Decision (ROD) on River Management Alternatives of the RGCP, which committed the USIBWC to implement environmental measures for long-term river management of the RGCP, including restoring 553 acres of riparian habitat and developing an environmental water program.
     
    Conditions along the arid RGCP are challenging for restoration. The scarce water is held back at dams until irrigation season begins. During the non-irrigation season, shallow groundwater drops substantially (at some sites groundwater levels have dropped nearly 13 feet), rising again only when the river is turned on again at the (unpredictable and variable) start of irrigation, and the season is increasingly shorter. Despite the harsh conditions, the USIBWC partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and environmental contractors to restore 22 sites. Work included saltcedar removal, earthwork, planting of native trees and shrubs, construction of irrigation infrastructure and shallow groundwater wells, and monitoring activities. Over the 10-year project implementation, the USIBWC planted over 110,000 trees and over 11,000 shrubs at restoration sites (and 36,000 more trees and nearly 1,000 shrubs at additional mitigation areas along the river). Earthwork included site grading, creation of terraces and inset floodplains, and excavation of swales and depressions in the floodplain to improve drainage and groundwater conditions near plantings.  Tree planting methods included augering holes for poles or tall pots, excavating trenches for poles, and transplanting willows with root balls and topsoil intact into trenches dug down to groundwater.
    Implementing such projects has led to a trove of lessons learned. Monitoring wells showed that trenches and augered holes should be at least ten feet deep for trees to survive groundwater fluctuations. When planting cottonwood or willow poles in augered holes, success was greatest when holes were completely backfilled with minimal air pockets. Cottonwoods did better in sandy soils than clay. Success varied for poles planted in trenches, likely dependent on effective backfilling. When trenched poles survived, tree density was higher than for auger methods. Trench planting willows harvested with root balls had near 100% success and resulted in faster growth and higher density and coverage than all other methods. Shrubs grown in specially-grown extra tall pots (about two feet deep) had higher success rates than standard tall pots (about 1 feet deep). Shrubs with a bowl excavated around its base also survived better.  Trees and shrubs planted in excavated swales or terraces typically had better success. An inset floodplain experienced a high-flow event that wiped out many young trees during monsoon season. USIBWC also learned lessons for dealing with illicit all-terrain vehicle and motor-cross use in the floodplain. 
     
    Five of USIBWC’s restoration sites have been irrigated with surface water. All of the irrigated sites are exhibiting greater success of plantings in the areas where irrigation water has been applied.  Certain irrigation techniques have worked better, including creating irrigation cells and using large PVC pipes for directing water against gravity, via pressure.
     
    USIBWC continues to conduct monitoring of the success of the habitat sites and adaptively manage for sites’ success. Some sites have begun to develop habitat that could eventually support endangered southwest willow flycatchers or the threatened yellow billed cuckoo.
  • Alternative Invasive Species Management: Manual Russian Olive Removal Along the San Juan River

    Elissa Rothman

    Canyon Country Discovery Center, Monticello, Utah USA elissar@ccdiscovery.org

     

    Though logistical challenges created by COVID-19 interrupted chemical treatment of Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) on the banks of the San Juan river, the pandemic presented an opportunity for innovation. In partnership with the Bureau of Land Management, the Canyon Country Youth Corps has chemically treated  E. angustifolia at the Gold Mine Site in San Juan County, Utah since 2017. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic stalled scheduled treatment until June, at which time southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) nesting season had begun. Hoping to continue work in some way, stakeholders turned their attention to the E. angustifolia seedlings emerging under the canopy opened by previous stump-cut and frill treatments. Following initial success, in 2021 the crew endeavored to formally test whether hand-pulling of E. angustifolia could successfully remove seedlings and prevent regrowth without chemical treatment.  Three test plots were designed to represent distinct treatment histories across the site: an area with chemically-treated mature trees and no E. angustifolia regrowth present, a chemically-treated area with masticated mature E. angustifolia and minimal seedling regrowth, and an area with growing E. angustifolia seedlings under chemically-treated snags. These plots were studied over the course of six months to measure E. angustifolia seedling growth and regrowth. At the end of the growing season, researchers concluded that manual treatment shows promise to end the cycle of regrowth for E. angustifolia.

    In light of these results, the study inspires new theories of how manual efforts might enhance chemical treatment of E. angustifolia on the Colorado Plateau. Moreover, the lack of technical skill needed to manually remove E. angustifolia seedlings creates an opportunity to involve local communities in land stewardship.  While E. angustifolia’s three-year seed viability demands future seasons of study at the Gold Mine Site, the initial investigation of the effect of hand-pulling E. angustifolia seedlings contributes new information to Integrated Pest Management  on the San Juan River.

     

  •  
    Assessment Of Russian Olive As An Ecogeomorphic Agent On The Powder River
    Antonio Reveles-Hernandez1*, Sharon Bywater-Reyes1, and Scott Franklin2
     
    1University of Northern Colorado, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Greeley, Colorado, USA
    2University of Northern Colorado, School of Biological Sciences, Greeley, Colorado, USA
     
     
    The invasive species, Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia), may pose a threat to northern U.S. rivers because of its broad and increasing habitat suitability. Russian olive is more shade and drought tolerant compared to the native cottonwood (Populus) and invasive tamarisk (Tamarix). The distribution and spread of Russian olive have been studied extensively in the Southwestern U.S. However, its range and impacts remain unknown in more northern regions. Within this context, the Powder River (Montana U.S.) functions as a model fluvial system for studying the potential impacts Russian olive may have on local species composition and geomorphic processes. Specifically, we measured plant traits (e.g., stem flexural rigidity, stem density, leaf shape, and plant height) known to influence flood hydraulics and associated sediment transport. The best-fit functions for plant bending force (i.e., flexibility) as a function of plant height were exponential and indicated Russian olive is more rigid than both tamarisk and cottonwood, with tamarisk having intermediate values. We additionally measured distribution, percent cover and topographic position of Russian olive, tamarisk and cottonwood within the Powder River riparian corridor. Tamarisk had the widest distribution of elevations relative to the channel, Russian olive had the lowest median elevation. We also used real-time kinematic (RTK) global positioning system (GPS) receivers to survey along 13 transects that had cross-sectional data collected in the past along the Powder River. Preliminary analysis shows apparent channel change in the form of accretion, channel narrowing, and vegetation encroachment. We hypothesize that Russian olive, because of its rigidity, high densities, low channel positions, and widespread existence as a shrubby canopy, likely impacts flow and sediment transport more than both invasive tamarisk and native cottonwood. Additional research will explore relationships between properties of invasive and native woody species and related ecogeomorphic processes, with implications for understanding the associated impacts on river corridors.

     

  • Applied Adaptive Learning: The Science for Climate Action Network
     
    Kathy Jacobs1
     
    1Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions, University of Arizona
     
    This presentation provides an opportunity to dive into the relationship between applied adaptive learning, climate assessments and adaptation action at multiple scales.  The Science for Climate Action Network is attempting to build long-term assessment and adaptation capacity that is focused on decision support, starting from a foundation of existing institutions, networks and adaptation efforts to build "communities of practice" that are actively synthesizing new knowledge.  This adaptive learning network would incorporate the experience and observations of practitioners, and synthesize it with the work of academics and agency scientists.  The intent is to scale up the capacity to use science and learn from experience in real time, and documenting and sharing lessons learned at multiple scales while also providing expert review of the findings.
  •  
    Comparison of Russian Olive, Tamarisk, and Cottonwood Plant Traits with Implications for River Morphodynamic Trajectories
     
    Sharon Bywater-Reyes1, Antonio Reveles- Hernandez, Scott Franklin
     
    1University of Northern Colorado
     
    The strength of interactions between plants and river processes is dependent on plant traits such as stem density, plant frontal area, and stem bending properties. The U.S. Southwest has long been a natural laboratory for studying how plant invasion dynamics, combined with plant traits, can dramatically alter river processes. For example, the well-studied displacement of native cottonwood (Populus ssp.) by Tamarisk (Tamarix ssp.) was accompanied by aggradation and channel narrowing in many instances. These changes in sediment transport are due in large part because of plant-traits differentially affecting hydraulics and sediment transport. Tamarix has higher rigidity, inducing more drag compared to Populus of the same size, resulting in a greater influence on near-bed flow velocities, and subsequently sediment transport. Recently, Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) has competed with Tamarix in U.S. Southwest rivers as the dominant invasive and may pose a threat to rivers beyond the U.S. Southwest because of its broad and increasing habitat suitability. Within this context, we studied the distribution, percent cover, topographic position, and rigidity of Russian olive, Tamarix and Populus species within a northern river. Cluster analysis found woody communities from river’s edge to floodplain interior of (1) Russian olive with an herbaceous understory, (2) Populus as a canopy with a Russian olive midcanopy, and (3) Populus with an herbaceous understoryThe best-fit functions for plant bending force (i.e., rigidity) as a function of plant size were exponential and indicated Russian olive is more rigid than both Tamarix and Populus, with Tamarix having intermediate values. We hypothesize that Russian olive, because of its rigidity, high densities, low channel positions, and widespread existence as a shrubby canopy, likely impacts flow and sediment transport more than both invasive Tamarix and native Populus. Additional research will explore relationships between properties of invasive and native woody species and related ecogeomorphic processes, with implications for understanding the associated impacts on river corridors.

     

  •  
    Climate in Context: Connecting Science and Decision-making 
     
    Kathy Jacobs1
     
    1Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions, University of Arizona
     
    In the context of managing risk, both scientists and stakeholders are frustrated by the knowledge gap that exists between science and decision-making.  Though it is common for scientists to find that decision-makers are not actively using the data and tools that they develop, bridging the gap between science and decision-making is also challenging from the perspective of those who want to make informed decisions but can’t access credible and useful scientific answers to their questions.  Stimulating successful interactions between groups with very different kinds of expertise and training requires building a common vocabulary and a foundation of shared goals.   This talk will focus on the barriers to connecting science and decision-making in a risk management/restoration context, and some of the successful approaches to overcoming these barriers.
  • An Innovative Partnership to Address Impacts from Colorado Legacy Mining:  
    The Colorado Abandoned Mine Collaboration
     
    Victor Ketellapper1*, Jeff Graves2, Lauren Duncan3, Jason Willis4, Robyn Blackburn5, Trez Skillern6, Skip Feeney7, Kyle Sandor8, Thomas Chapin9, Katie Walton Day10 and, Jean Wyatt11
     
    1. US Environmental Protection Agency, Denver, CO, ketellapper.victor@epa.gov
    2. Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety, Denver, CO, Jeff.graves@state.co.us
    3. Trout Unlimited, Salida, CO, Jason.Willis@tu.gov
    4. Trout Unlimited, Nederland, CO, lauren.duncan@tu.gov
    5. US Fish and Wildlife Service, Denver, CO, blackburn.robyn@epa.gov
    6. US Forest Service, Boulder, CO, trez.skillern@usda.gov
    8. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Denver, CO, kyle.sandor@state.co.us
    9. US Geological Survey, Lakewood, CO, Lakewood, CO, kwaltond@usgs.gov
    10. US Geological Survey, Lakewood, CO, tchapin@usgs.gov
    11. US Environmental Protection Agency, Denver, CO, wyatt.jean@epa.gov
     
     
    The Colorado Abandoned Mine Collaboration provides a forum for Federal, State, and local governments, non-profit organizations, and landowners to share expertise and pool resources (financial, staffing, expertise, technologies, etc.) which has resulted in the assessment and clean-up of abandoned mines that are adversely impacting Colorado lands and waters. Established in 2007, the group has successfully competed assessments and cleanup actions in 40 watersheds in Colorado.  This presentation will discuss the partnership, the technical approach, and the success of this collaboration.
     
    The stakeholders who participate in any given project vary depending on location and interest.  For any given project, all stakeholders participate as equals and actively contribute.  Federal and State agencies involved in this collaboration include:  US Forest Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the US Geological Survey, the National Park Service, the US Bureau of Land Management, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, the Colorado Geologic Survey, and the US Environmental Protection Agency.  Local participants include county and city government agencies, Trout Unlimited, and local watershed groups.
     
    Background:  Mining in Colorado has played a pivotal role in the establishment of the state and its economic development.  Unfortunately, legacy mining has left denuded landscapes and contaminated rivers and streams across the state.  Although estimates vary, thousands of abandoned mines are located throughout the state.  Many of these abandoned mines are releasing metals and acidity to the surface water, impacting aquatic life and riparian areas in over 1,500 miles of streams and rivers in Colorado. These sites were mined and abandoned prior to enactment of environmental regulations. Thus, there is limited regulatory authority and funding to address the environmental impacts from historic mining.  
     
    Differing and complex regulatory authorities and issues such as mixed federal and private ownership of mining impacted lands has fragmented regulatory responsibilities, impeding the ability of a single State or Federal Agency to implement comprehensive environmental assessments and clean-ups.  Furthermore, environmental liability concerns have prevented volunteers from taking action to manage contaminate releases from historic mines.
    By pooling resources and working together, this group has cooperatively identified and prioritized abandoned mine sites observed to exhibit high potential to impact human and ecological health.  The contribution of technical and scientific skills combined with expertise in addressing governmental regulations and requirements has resulted in active assessment and cleanups of watersheds impacted by historic mining across the state of Colorado.  This collaboration has resulted in a model which encourages involvement of multiple local stakeholders with regulatory agencies. 
     
    This group has effectively, efficiently, collaboratively, and cooperatively completed assessments of watersheds impacted by historic mining, prioritized cleanup actions, encouraged, and supported Good Samaritan mine reclamation projects, provided opportunities for stream restoration, completed cleanup actions, engaged multiple stakeholder involvement, and encouraged the use of sound science and engineering principles. 
  •  
     
     
     

    Developing a Preliminary Classification Schema for Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems

    Chad McKenna1, Milczarek, Mike2

    1 GeoSystems Analysis, Inc., Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
    2 GeoSystems Analysis, Inc., Tucson, Arizona, USA
     
    chad@gsanalysis.com

     
    Ecosystems that directly or indirectly rely on groundwater for some or all their water requirements are collectively referred to as groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs).  Due to a combination of new legislation in California and to aid in the preservation of valuable, highly sensitive habitats in other states and in other countries, there is an increasing need to reliably and consistently identify GDEs. Previous and ongoing efforts in California and elsewhere have utilized a combination of vegetation, surface water, groundwater, soils, and other datasets to aid in GDE evaluation and identification however the approach and results of this work are inconsistent and often lack sufficient detail to aid in conservation decision making, habitat value evaluations, and vulnerability assessments.
     
    During two previous studies in California, GeoSystems Analysis began the development of a GDE classification schema that could serve as an initial framework for GDE evaluations in other basins.  This classification system evaluates and codes specific types of potential GDEs, normalizes, and streamlines their characteristics to support Groundwater Sustainability Plan development as well as and other evaluation purposes. The GDE classification schema currently describes four key attributes for each potential GDE: geomorphic setting, dominant vegetation class, suspected source aquifer, and a man-made modifier, and has proven to be a valuable tool for identifying GDEs, prioritizing conservation, aiding in habitat evaluations, and predicting GDE sensitivity.    

     

  •  
    Riparian Vegetation Response to High-intensity Fire and Flood Disturbance in Two Montane Canyons in the Jemez Mountains, New Mexico
     
    Patrick B. Shafroth1*, Samuel Alfieri2, Craig D. Allen3, Kay Beeley4, Barbara Leighnor5, Jonathan M. Friedman6, Eduardo Gonzalez7, Jamie M. Gottlieb8, Laura G. Perry9, Michael L. Scott10, Jens T. Stevens11, Anne C. Tillery12 
     
    1U.S. Geological Survey Fort Collins Science Center, Fort Collins, CO, USA; shafrothp@usgs.gov
    2Contractor with U.S. Geological Survey Fort Collins Science Center, Fort Collins, CO, USA; salfieri@contractor.usgs.gov
    3University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, USA; craigdallen@unm.edu
    4National Park Service Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, NM, USA; Kay_Beeley@nps.gov
    5Contractor with National Park Service Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, NM, USA
    6U.S. Geological Survey Fort Collins Science Center, Fort Collins, CO, USA; friedmanj@usgs.gov
    7Colorado State University Department of Biology, Fort Collins, CO, USA; eduglez@colostate.edu
    8Northern Arizona University School of Forestry, Flagstaff, AZ, USA
    9Colorado State University Department of Biology, Fort Collins, CO, USA; Laura.Perry@colostate.edu
    10Colorado State University Department of Geosciences, Fort Collins, CO, USA
    11U.S. Geological Survey Fort Collins Science Center, Fort Collins, CO, USA
    12U.S. Geological Survey New Mexico Water Science Center, Albuquerque, NM, USA; atillery@usgs.gov
     
     
    Globally and regionally, extreme disturbance events have become increasingly common with hotter drought in recent decades. Combinations of high-severity fire, debris flows, large-magnitude floods, and high sediment fluxes drive a range of disturbance intensities within riparian and aquatic environments. While fires and floods occur naturally in riparian systems, the high cumulative severity of some combinations of events creates uncertainty regarding ecosystem responses, trajectories, and appropriate resource management response. We examined the effects of fire and flood disturbance on riparian vegetation in two montane canyons in the Jemez Mountains, New Mexico. The 2011 Las Conchas fire burned at high severity in many parts of the two study watersheds, and multiple debris flows and large floods followed from 2011-2013. We conducted a suite of studies between 2018 and 2020 to retrospectively assess spatial variation in the intensity and effects of fire and flood disturbance, and responses of riparian vegetation. Canyon segments that experienced high-severity fire were characterized by a loss of formerly dense forest canopy cover, channel expansion, and gradual recolonization by riparian pioneer plants (e.g., cottonwoods and willows), and resprouting of other taxa (e.g., box elder, Gambel’s oak, choke cherry). Where burn severity was low to moderate, mature tree canopy remained, but the understory in lower canyon segments was highly disturbed due to high sediment flux, woody debris transport, and flood flow accumulation. Riparian vegetation response also varied along the ~4000 foot elevation gradient within our study canyons. Based on our results, we propose a general framework to provide information to inform potential restoration actions in the context of canyon ecosystems impacted by compounded, severe disturbances.
     
     

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