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Conferences

2022 Conference

  •  
    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.

     

  • 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.
  • Conservation Corps and Riparian Restoration: Where We Came From
     
    Sean Damitz1
     
    1Utah Conservation Corps, Denver, CO, USA
     
    Abstract coming soon.
  • Gathering Information on the Future of Snow and Water for Adaptation Planning on National Forests
     
    Charles Luce1
     
    1US Forest Service
     
     
  •  
    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.

     

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • 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.

     

  • 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.    
  • 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.
  • 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

     

  • 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.
  • 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. 

  • 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.

     

     

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. 

     
  • 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.

  •  
    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.
  • 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.
     
  • 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.

     

     

  •  

    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. 

     

  • 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.

  •  
     
     
     

    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.    

     

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  •  
    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

     

     
  • 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.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
  • 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.
  • 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. 

     

  • A Score of Changes and More in Store
     
    Dave Kanzer1
     
    1Colorado River District
  • 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
  • Riparian Vegetation Response to High Intensity Fire and Flood Disturbance in Two Montane Canyons in the Jemez Mountains, New Mexico
     
     
  • 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.

     

  • 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.
  •  

    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.

     

     

     

  • 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.

     

     

     

  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • 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.

     

  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

     

  • 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.
  •  
    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
  • 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.
  •  
    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. 
     
     
     
  •  
    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.
     
     
  • 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?
  • 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.
     
  • 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.
  • 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.
  •  
    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.

     

2021 Conference

  •  
     
    Restoration of Longitudinal Connectivity of the Price River for the Benefit of Native Fish Species and People
    Eric McCulley1
    1 RiverRestoration
     
    Helper City has been working on the enhancement of the Price River through the city in a multi-phase program called the Helper River Revitalization Project since 2013. One of the key objectives of the project has been to improve the longitudinal aquatic habitat connectivity of the Price River through this reach by removing obsolete irrigation infrastructure and replacement of grade control structures with more fish passage friendly instream structures. Five out of six phases of the project have been completed, connecting approximately two miles of river, which had significant connectivity issues due to historical alteration. The results of fish sampling of the river through Helper City in 2016 and 2019 indicate that naturally recruiting Bluehead sucker and stocked Colorado River cutthroat trout are thriving in the newly connected reaches. Further study on the fish movement patterns is planned for the future, but preliminary results of sampling have shown that fish can move up and downstream through the system, where baseline results indicated the absence of these important Utah species in previously isolated reaches.
  •  
    Soil Analysis for Restoration on the Santa Clara River
     
    Margot Mason1*, Adam Lambert2
     
    1University of California, Santa Barbara, California, USA; mason_margot@yahoo.com 
    2University of California, Santa Barbara, California, USA; alambert@ucsb.edu 
     
    Understanding abiotic site conditions, including soil properties, is important in the creation of informed restoration plans. The Santa Clara River is one of the most hydrologically intact biodiverse riparian corridors in Southern California, but suffers from agricultural impacts and rapid urbanization. The Sespe Cienega is a site of particular interest owing to its persistently rising groundwater and the potential for restoring a significant groundwater-dependent ecosystem in river. The Cienega is heavily infested by giant reed (Arundo donax), saltceder (Tamarisx spp.), and many herbaceous invasive species. Restoration efforts based on invasive species removal have been underway on the site, which was historically a watercress farm, and is co-located with an operational fish hatchery, since 2017. Understanding soil conditions is especially important at the Cienega as agricultural land use changes, and flood scour and deposition history have created diverse soil conditions which vary in appropriateness for different native species. An array of 60 soil samples was collected on the 278 acre site in July 2020 and analysed for pH, conductivity, texture, and bulk density to prepare soil maps and identify locations that may need remediation before active planting. Preliminary findings linear modelling findings show that pH can be modelled using distance to the river and percent clay (p<0.006), whereas conductivity is only significantly predicted by soil texture. Areas with current or previous Arundo stands were found to have significantly lower compaction than areas with other vegetation cover types (ANOVA, p<0.01). The inverse distance weighted interpolation tool in ArcGIS was used to create maps of the variation in soil characteristics across the site to aid in management decisions, and Theissen polygons with appropriate soil properties were selected to guide planting of various desired native species. This process of sample collection and subsequent spatial analysis may provide a suitable model for other projects wishing to make informed restoration decisions at a low budget. 
  •  
    Strategies, Tools, and Methodologies for Effective Regional-scale Climate Adaptation
     
    Katharine Hayhoe1,2,3
     
    1 Climate Center, Texas Tech University, Lubbock TX 79409
    2 Dept. of Political Science, Texas Tech University, Lubbock TX 79409
    3 ATMOS Research & Consulting, Lubbock TX 79490
     
    From managing ecosystems to allocating water, human planning is typically based on the assumption of stationarity: that the long-term average conditions and the highs and the lows observed in the past are reliable predictors of future conditions. Today, however, climate is no longer stationary; and as a result, we need to look to the future as well as the past to ensure we’re making robust decisions that prepare for and adapt to the changes we’re already seeing today as well as those anticipated in the future. Historical observations, global climate model output, future scenarios and high-resolution downscaled projections can all provide valuable insight into resilience planning. In this presentation, I will briefly introduce the various tools and methodologies available to understand future climate change and describe a helpful decision tree approach to identifying the most relevant and useful information for any given watershed, project, or goal.
     
     
  •  
    Wet Meadow Restoration in Gunnison Sage-Grouse Habitat Along the Gould Reservoir
     
    Cassandra Shenk1*, Jake Hartter2
     
    1ERO Resources Corporation, Hotchkiss, CO, US; cshenk@eroresources.com
    2Western Slope Conservation Center, Paonia, CO, US; jake@theconservationcenter.org
     
     
    Fruitland Irrigation Company (FIC) has installed a riparian restoration project, to replace wetland and riparian habitat lost due to piping open canal and tunnels in or near Gunnison sage-grouse habitat along Fruitland Mesa south west of Crawford, CO.  The restoration site is an unnamed tributary to Iron Creek at the inlet of the Gould Reservoir, in unoccupied Gunnison sage-grouse habitat at the transition zone between high shrubland and Pinyon-Juniper habitat.  Techniques used to restore the site include installation of one-rock dams and log structures (e.g., “Zeedyke structures”), managed grazing, Tamarisk removal, and riparian plantings.  Successes and challenges will be discussed, including partnerships and community collaboration.  As irrigation piping projects become more common along Colorado’s western slope, wildlife habitat site mitigation is increasingly important.
     
    Major take-aways:
    • Recommended shrubs, forbes, and watering regime for wet meadow restoration in mid to high elevation semi-arid environments
    • Zeedyke structure types and installation methods
    • Community engagement tips
    • Habitat mitigation requirements for Salinity Control Program-funded piping projects are creating a number of habitat sites in the North Fork of the Gunnison River valley
     
     
     
     
  •  
     
    Developing a Land Suitability Analysis for Green Infrastructure Placement in Ambos Nogales
    Alma Anides Morales1*, Francisco Lara-Valencia2, Margaret Garcia2, and Laura Norman3
    1University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA, aanides@email.arizona.edu
    2Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ, USA, francisco.lara@asu.edu, m.garcia@asu.edu
    3 U.S. Geological Survey Tucson, AZ, USA, lnorman@usgs.gov
     
     
    The sister border cities of Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora, collectively known as Ambos Nogales, experience stormwater runoff challenges that result in public health risks, degradation of water quality, and economic losses. In response, green infrastructure (GI) strategies are being implemented to achieve sustainable flood management.  In addition to helping to address the binational flooding that occurs in downtown Ambos Nogales, the coupling of urban planning and watershed modelling, uses vegetation and design to restore natural systems and create healthy urban environments. Binational partners, funded by the North American Development Bank, are pooling their collective skillsets to determine optimal locations for GI solutions on both sides of the border. A land suitability analysis (LSA) is being conducted which considers three overarching categories: flood mitigation, watershed protection, and green space opportunities. Input data for the selected factors include binational soil and vegetation layers, geospatial data for each city, Digital Elevation Models (DEM), hydrologic outputs from the KINEmatic Runoff and EROsion model (KINEROS2), and qualitative input from stakeholder interviews highlighting frequently flooded locations. We are developing a composite index for each of the three categories, and when combined will result in an LSA index that ranks locations based on their suitability for maximizing GI benefits. Best suited areas will then be compared with locations identified by landscape architecture specialists. The GI designs conceptualized will then be assessed for their potential impacts with KINEROS2. It is expected the LSA will help guide and validate final recommendations for a GI binational network. This is part of a larger effort led by a U.S.-Mexico team of researchers working to support sustainable urban stormwater management practices and create recreational opportunities, preserve water quality and wildlife habitat in Ambos Nogales.
     
     
  •  
    Fire Preparedness and Post Fire Reclamation within JMR-Colorado River State Park
    Pete Firmin1*
     
    1Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Grand Junction, CO. U.S.A.; Pete.firmin@state.co.us
     
    Attendees will understand the complimentary roles of fire preparedness and habitat improvement functions as well as post-fire management considerations and reclamation efforts within James M. Robb-Colorado River State Park.  Attendees will understand the impact of fire on Riparian woodlands to include a specific discussion of fires impact on cottonwood trees (Pupulus deltoids) and resulting management decisions.  We will discuss the challenges and innovative solutions associated with post-fire reclamation to include integrated weed management and active or passive reclamation efforts.   How to integrate non-traditional partners in habitat improvement will also be discussed specifically as it relates to fuel reduction/defensible space in the wildland urban interface. 
     
     
  •  
    Riparian Habitat & Wildlife: What’s Mycorrhizae Got To Do With It?
     
    Lisa Markovchick*1, Catherine A. Gehring1, Jose Ignacio Querejeta2, Abril Belgara-Andrew1, James Tracey3 and Thomas G. Whitham1
     
    1Department of Biological Sciences and Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, U.S.A. Lisa_Markovchick@nau.edu; Catherine.Gehring@nau.edu; Thomas.Whitham@nau.edu
    2Soil and Water Conservation Research Group, Spanish National Research Council, CEBAS-CSIC, PO Box 164, 30100 Murcia, Spain. querejeta@cebas.csic.es
    3Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, 77843, U.S.A. jamesltracy@tamu.edu
     
    Mycorrhizal fungi inhabit plant roots, and are known to improve plant survival and resiliency in the face of diverse kinds of stressors from drought to pests. Yet, these fungi are often degraded by disturbance and not intentionally restored in tandem with native vegetation – a concerning gap given the increased need for plant resiliency under increasing extreme weather events. Using a foundational riparian tree, we investigate the consequences of degraded mycorrhizal communities on plant survival, growth and resilience. Using both a common garden field experiment and a greenhouse experiment, we tested the impacts of: 1) contrasting sources of native cottonwood trees (Populus fremontii) used in restoration, 2) mycorrhizal communities degraded by a history of tamarisk invasion (Tamarix spp.), 3) and restoration of native mycorrhizal communities concurrent with native plantings. We examine the impacts of these factors and their interactions on native tree survival, growth, photosynthesis, and water use. Critically, it appears that a legacy of tamarisk invasion decreases plant water use efficiency, an effect counteracted by the restoration of native mycorrhizal fungal communities.  Additionally, these effects interact with the source of the native trees used in restoration. We discuss the implications for how unseen mycorrhizal communities are affecting plant survival, growth, and physiological strategies, impacting their ability to provide the necessary canopy cover, cooling, and other requirements for native wildlife such as the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax trailii extimus; SWFL).

     

     

  • Results of 17 years of monitoring at the Los Lunas Habitat Restoration Site, New Mexico
     
    Rebecca Siegle1, David Moore1*, and Tori Barron1*
    1Bureau of Reclamation Technical Service Center, Denver, CO
     
    Riparian forests are an important ecosystem in the Desert Southwest.  Within the region, seventy percent of threatened or endangered species are considered riparian obligates and the destruction of riparian habitats has been responsible for the decline of many imperiled species.  Within the Middle Rio Grande, the federally endangered southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus - SWFL) is a focal species that has suffered population declines due to reductions in native riparian habitat quantity and quality.  The Los Lunas Restoration Site (LLRS) was constructed in response to a 2001 Biological Opinion and designed to provide habitat for both the SWFL and the federally endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow (Hybognathus amarus).  Designs included partial clearing, bank lowering, tree planting and installation of side channels to provide habitat for both species.  In 2003, monitoring of groundwater and the avian and vegetation communities within the site was initiated by Technical Service Center personnel.  Objectives included determining the success of restoring a productive native riparian community and assessing its suitability for breeding SWFLs.  The western yellow-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus - YBCU), federally listed in 2014, was added to this assessment later in the study.  Following 17 years of monitoring, evaluation criteria for the LLRS determined that riparian restoration has been successful.  Plant species composition in both overstory and understory, promoted by a shallow water table, is dominated by native wetland plants.  Exotic species comprise a small percentage of overall vegetative cover.  A diverse bird population with an increasing abundance of mid-story species has developed.  However, LLRS vegetation data have not been comparable to occupied SWFL sites and occupation by breeding SWFLs or YBCUs has not been documented within LLRS. The site does show potential for YBCU habitat, therefore further monitoring, while currently not planned, is recommended.
     
     
     
  •  
     
    Restoration Economies: Tools for Valuing and Financing Restoration
    Molly Mugglestone1
    1 Business for Water Stewardship, Portland, OR; molly@businessforwater.org 
     
    Molly Mugglestone is the Director of Communications and Colorado Policy at Business for Water Stewardship, a project of the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. She will present their new report on the economic contributions of river-related recreation in Colorado and the importance of adequate flows and healthy habitat to the state's economic well being. BWS also works with corporate partners to help protect water supply and instream flows and Molly will discuss some of these examples and ways that corporate funding is one way to leverage other types of funding for river projects. Attendees will learn about new data related to the Colorado River's impact on the state of Colorado's economy and how corporations are leading the way in funding public/private partnerships on river restoration.
     
     
     
     
     
  •  
     
    Riparian Evaluation Monitoring: Utilizing Texas Stream Citizen Science to Evaluate Riparian Health
     
    Aspen Navarro1
     
    1The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment – Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas, United States; Aspennavarro@txstate.edu
     
     
    In collaboration with the Nueces River Authority, The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment’s Texas Stream Team Citizen Science program established a Riparian Evaluation Citizen Science Training to monitor for riparian health and potential hindrances. Citizen scientists trained in Riparian Evaluation capture georeferenced images and use the Riparian Bull’s-Eye Evaluation Tool to assess ten key indicators: Active Floodplain, Energy Dissipation, New Plant Colonization, Stabilizing Vegetation, Age Diversity, Species Diversity, Plant Vigor, Water Storage, Bank/Channel Erosion, and Sediment Deposition. Riparian Evaluation monitoring procedures are documented in a quality assurance project plan as this data may be supplemental to Texas Stream Team’s citizen science water quality data. Session attendees will learn about the Riparian Bull’s-Eye Evaluation Tool, quality control protocols that ensure consistent, quality data, and monitoring limitations to replicate riparian monitoring in their region.  
     
     
     
  • As Executive Director, Dan Gibbs leads the development and execution of the Department’s initiatives for the balanced management of the state’s natural resources. Dan works on an array of issues pertaining to all of Colorado’s natural resources, including water, wildlife, state lands, oil and gas and mining.
    Dan is a respected collaborator and a strong proponent of building partnerships across agencies, nonprofits and private-sector organizations to improve the productivity and success of government operations and services.
    Prior to joining the Department of Natural Resources, Dan served as a Summit County Commissioner from 2010-2018. As county commissioner, Dan successfully pushed for wildfire preparedness, affordable workforce housing, lower health insurance costs and protection and improvements to transportation infrastructure.
    Prior to his tenure as a Commissioner, Dan served in the Colorado House of Representatives and in the Colorado State Senate where he served on the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. His legislative accomplishments include securing funding for wildfire mitigation and forest health, creating the Colorado Kids Outdoors grant program, supporting watershed health initiatives, and increasing environmental protections for wildlife from oil and gas development.
    Dan is a certified wildland firefighter and is affiliated with the ROSS system, through which he is on call to fight wildfires throughout the United States. He chaired the statewide Wildland Fire and Prescribed Fire Matters Advisory Council, and represented county governments on the Forest Health Advisory Committee. Dan has served on a variety of civic boards including: Search and Rescue Advisory, Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus, Tourism Office, Youth Corps Association, Friends of the Dillon Ranger District and the Keystone Science School.
    Dan is a graduate of Western State Colorado University and completed the Harvard Kennedy School Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program. He is also a Marshall Memorial Fellow.
    Dan enjoys all that living in the high country has to offer, including skiing, running, mountain biking, hunting and fishing. He is a resident of Breckenridge, Colorado, where he lives with his family.
  •  
    IPaC – A One-stop Shop for Environmental Review
    Sasha Doss1*
    1 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Western Colorado Ecological Services Field Office, Grand Junction, CO, USA; sasha_doss@fws.gov
     
    If you are working on a restoration project and need a species list, survey protocols, an impact analysis, or conservation measures, IPaC is your one-stop shop. IPaC, also known as Information for Planning and Consultation, is an online environmental review platform developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). IPaC provides information on how certain project types might impact sensitive natural resources and delivers suggestions on how to address those impacts. Although originally developed for Section 7 consultations under the Endangered Species Act, IPaC is available to all – private citizens, NGOs, and state and federal agencies – who need information for environmental review. IPaC includes information on threatened, endangered, and candidate species, migratory birds, wetlands, and USFWS facilities. IPaC delivers species and habitat survey protocols, project design guidelines, species lists, conservation measures and more. In this presentation, I’ll review the types of information available in IPaC and demonstrate how to enter a project. Following the presentation, listeners should understand how to use IPaC and who to contact if they need assistance.
     
     
  •  
      The Middle Rio Grande Farm and River Resilience Program
     
    Adrian Oglesby1*, Paul Tashjian2*
     
    1UNM Utton Transboundary Resources Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico, adrian@lawoftheriver.com
    2Audubon New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, paul.tashjian@audubon.org
     
     
    Audubon New Mexico and the Utton Transboundary Resources Center at the University of New Mexico are helping the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District develop an innovative new farm and river conservation program.   This comprehensive effort aims to increase the resilience of both the Middle Rio Grande ecosystem and the 65,000 acres of farmland it supports in the face of increasingly variable water supplies.  This effort aims to benefit farmers by advancing efficient water delivery and use, thus increasing the dependability of water supply for sustainable agriculture, endangered species compliance, and our rare Bosque and riverine habitat.  A guiding principle for this effort is that sustaining healthy agriculture in the Middle Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico is crucial to maintaining a healthy river ecosystem.
     
    This presentation will highlight the tools and activities that are being used or are under consideration for implementation, which include:
    • Water delivery system efficiency improvements;
    • On-farm irrigation efficiency improvements;
    • Improvement to irrigation scheduling and water delivery practices;
    • Technical and financial resources to support productive agriculture and efficient water use;
    • Voluntary water leasing within the Middle Rio Grande to promote innovative and successful farming, ecosystem health and species conservation; and,
    • Habitat restoration and development to improve effectiveness of species conservation at locations associated with leased water returns to the river; and,
    • Design and installation of irrigation infrastructure to allow for i additional connections back to the river.
     
    In its first year of pilot implementation this program has resulted in the development of split season leasing protocols, late season leases of 260 acres, delivery of leased water through the irrigation system to key habitat sites along and in the river, and restoration designs for these locations to ensure optimal habitat during drought conditions. The restoration of these key delivery points from the irrigation system back to the river will ensure that minimal water delivery to the river during severe drought will have maximum conservation benefit. 
     
    The Program is planning the expansion of water leasing options for 2021, which may include a full season option or multi-year options.  All this is being conducted under the specter of record drought conditions and increased annual drying in the watershed due to climate change, making this work both timely and essential.   
     
     
     
     
  •  
    Pine Gulch Fire Impacts and the Work that Goes into Suppression, Repair, and Restoration
     
    Kevin Hyatt1, Erin Kowalski1, and Marlin Deras1
     
    Bureau of Land Management
     
    Fire in the ecosystem is a natural process that bring changes to landscapes and ecosystems. When fire occurs, suppression actions also have impacts that can lead to changes. In this video, staff from the Grand Junction Field Office Bureau of Land Management (GJFO), discuss the Pine Gulch Fire. Topics include pre-fire condition, fire activity, fire burn severity, suppression activities, impacts to the landscape and riparian areas, suppression repair, and restoration. 
    The Pine Gulch Fire started on July 31st and burned 138,642 acres. Manual, mechanical, and arial fire fighting tactics were used to help bring the fire under control nearly two months later. The fire burned through timber, shrublands, grasslands, and riparian areas. Resource Specialists from the GJFO provide information during the fire to help reduce impact to resources such as riparian areas. Additionally, Resources Specialists develop a suppression repair plan and restoration plans. A Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team helps provide an assessment of values at risk (VAR) and provides an emergency stabilization plan. These three plans help protect and restore ecosystems and protect VARs. 
     
     
     
     
  •  
    A Riparian Ecosystem Data Explorer for Monitoring the Lower Colorado River: Integrated and Dynamic Web-based Delivery of Actionable Information
    Pamela Nagler1*, Armando Barreto-Muñoz2 and Kamel Didan2
     
    1U.S. Geological Survey, Southwest Biological Science Center, Tucson, AZ, 85721 USA; pnagler@usgs.gov
    2University of Arizona, Biosystems Engineering, Tucson, AZ, 85721 USA; abarreto@email.arizona.edu, didan@email.arizona.edu
     
    Intensification of drought across the Colorado River Basin is causing ecosystem stress and catastrophic transformations that result in increasing challenges for resource management. Over the past two decades, riparian plant species on the Lower Colorado have declined drastically, suggesting further deterioration of biodiversity, wildlife habitat and key ecosystem services. Researchers from the USGS and University of Arizona have built an interactive, searchable Lower Colorado River Data Explorer for the purpose of allowing users to monitor riparian ecosystem health and changes due to defoliation events from the Tamarisk leaf beetle, Diorhabda Spp. End users may currently identify and search twenty years of data for their areas of interest from Hoover Dam into the delta in Mexico. The searchable online system is being expanded to include additional rivers, their uplands and even the non-riverine borderlands ecosystems, with the main purpose being to evaluate trends in the landscape. These dryland ecosystems have been resilient despite myriad pressures related to drought, and other anthropogenic changes. The Data Explorer provides interactive access to greenness, phenology and water use riparian-zone, time-series information including plotting tools for remotely sensed measurements of vegetation index (VI), daily evapotranspiration (ET, mmd-1) and annualized ET (mmyr-1). These data are provided at two spatial resolutions: 250m Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and 30m Landsat Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI2), as well as the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) for comparison with older studies that use NDVI instead of the current EVI2. In order for our research and outreach to evolve and become a fully functional and an operational service for scientists, land, water, cultural, and resource managers, and the general public, the Data Explorer requires: a) adequate data storage, b) processing resources, c) web and tool developer time, and d) long-term hosting. This Data Explorer provides integrated data delivery and decision support; it was developed with a modular design so it can accept new data and models as they are developed and is responsive to stakeholder needs for updated information.  
  •  
     
    Visualizing Community Input for Yampa River Management Planning
    Nicole Seltzer1* and David Groves2*
     
    1 River Network
    2 RAND Corporation
     
    In 2019, the Yampa White Green Basin Roundtable began an Integrated Water Management Plan for the Yampa River basin in northwest Colorado.  The goal is to combine community input with science and engineering assessments to identify actions to protect existing and future water uses and support healthy river ecosystems in the face of growing populations, changing land uses, and climate uncertainty.  To initiate a two-way conversation with basin residents, a team of local non-profit organizations spent a year surveying and interviewing more than 150 irrigators, municipal/industrial water users and environmental/recreational stakeholders.  This presentation will follow the (sometimes messy) journey we followed from developing consistent interview templates to coding the data for consistency to analyzing it in Tableau software to the Advisory Committee’s consideration of what the data says and what we should do about it. We will reflect on the benefits and challenges of this approach, and provide recommendations for those who want to try it in their watershed.
     
     
     
  •  
     
    Preparing the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher for the Tamarisk Leaf Beetle in the Middle Rio Grande, NM 
     
    Ondrea Hummel1*, Joe Schroeder1
     
    1 Tetra Tech, Albuquerque, NM, USA; ondrea.hummel@tetratech.com, joe.schroeder@tetratech.com 
    Tamarisk (Tamarix spp.; aka saltcedar) is an invasive shrub that has become a major nesting substrate for the federally endangered Southwestern Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus; flycatcher) [1]. The tamarisk leaf beetle (Diorhabda spp; TLB) is an introduced biocontrol agent which feeds on tamarisk, triggering defoliation events. Defoliation of tamarisk during the flycatcher nesting season (May – July) decreases nesting success by exposing flycatcher eggs and nestlings to potentially lethal temperatures from direct sunlight and increasing nest parasitism. 
     
    Tetra Tech was contracted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop a spatial model to identify priority areas for flycatcher habitat restoration in the Middle Rio Grande. Tetra Tech’s Albuquerque Office Environmental Team integrated their collective experience in ecological restoration, stream engineering, GIS and remote sensing applications, and flycatcher habitat relationships to develop a flycatcher habitat restoration siting model which, in combination with field investigations, was used to identify the top 0.5% of potential flycatcher habitat restoration opportunities within the Middle Rio Grande.
     
    The flycatcher habitat restoration siting model provides a timely solution for flycatcher conservation in the form of a siting tool that can be used to efficiently allocate funding for flycatcher habitat creation within the Middle Rio Grande. 
     
    [1] More than 50% of flycatcher nests in the Middle Rio Grande, NM, have been documented in tamarisk since 2011 (Moore and Ahlers 2017).
     
     
     
     
  •  
    Mapping Perceived Social Values of Riparian Ecosystems: Case Study in Southeastern Arizona, USA
     
    Roy Petrakis 1*, Laura Norman 1, Oliver Lysaght 2,3, Benson Sherrouse 4, Darius Semmens 4, Kenneth Bagstad 4, Richard Pritzlaff 2,5
     
    1 U.S. Geological Survey, Western Geographic Science Center, 520 N. Park Avenue, Tucson, AZ, 85719, U.S.A.; rpetrakis@usgs.gov, lnorman@usgs.gov
    2 Borderlands Restoration Network, 1 School St., Patagonia, AZ 85624, U.S.A.; O.Lysaght@lse.ac.uk
    3 London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), University of London, London, England
    4 U.S. Geological Survey, Geosciences & Environmental Change Science Center, P.O. Box 25046, MS-980, Denver, CO 80225, U.S.A.; bcsherrouse@usgs.gov, dsemmens@usgs.gov, kjbagstad@usgs.gov
    5 The Biophilia Foundation, 1201 Parson Island Road, Chester, MD 21619, U.S.A.; richard@biophiliafoundation.org
     
     
    Landscapes being considered for future conservation or ecological restoration are often chosen based on biophysical attributes, without considering the preferences of local citizens. In an effort to identify ecosystem services to invest in and prioritize, we applied the Social Values for Ecosystem Services (SolVES) GIS-based model to map perceived social values based on results from a social survey and a selection of environmental variables within the Sonoita Creek watershed in southeastern Arizona. The social survey respondents were asked about their overall engagement with the landscape through questions regarding their familiarity and relationships with restoration, land use, and water. Additionally, the respondents were asked to rank a collection of social values (e.g., aesthetic, biological diversity, or life sustaining value) and to place points on a map in locations that identify their associations with the landscape. The locations of these points are linked with a collection of spatial environmental variables, including land use and distance from water channels. The SolVES model outputs spatially explicit representations of high and low social value across the landscape and portrays where and how respondents perceive value. High perceived social values were located particularly along primary and secondary riparian channels as well as larger water bodies throughout the watershed. This suggests that respondents of the survey highly value riparian areas and hydrologic ecosystem services. The highest-rated social values were, respectively, life sustaining services, biological diversity, and aesthetic value. These results can guide land managers in public engagement and stewardship and possible restoration objectives.
     
  •  
     
    Developing Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Habitat and Ranking Metrics at
    Multiple Scales with a Satellite Model
     
    James R. Hatten1*, Matthew J. Johnson2, and Jennifer A. Holmes3
     
    1U.S. Geological Survey, Western Fisheries Research Center, Seattle, WA, USA; Jhatten@usgs.gov
    2Northern Arizona University, Colorado Plateau Research Station, Flagstaff, AZ, USA; matthew.johnson@nau.edu
    3Northern Arizona University, Colorado Plateau Research Station, Flagstaff, AZ, USA; jennifer.holmes@nau.edu
     
    Southwestern Willow Flycatcher (SWFL) habitat metrics are important for discovery surveys, ranking and prioritizing reaches for restoration and enhancement activities, conducting change detection, and performing basin-scale planning.  Toward that end, the SWFL satellite model was used to generate a suite of variables at multiple scales in the upper Gila River Basin to characterize stability, heterogeneity, and area of predicted habitat. An approach to reach-scale habitat ranking was developed and applied to the upper Gila River Basin, prioritizing river reaches for discovery surveys, restoration and enhancement activities, change detection, and basin-scale planning. Model verification was performed with SWFL territories collected between 2016 and 2019 on the upper Gila River.
     
     
     
  •  
    Unlocking Private Capital to Finance Natural Infrastructure for Healthy Ecosystems and Resilient Communities
     
    Todd Gartner* and Lizzie Marsters*
     
    World Resources Institute, Washington, DC, USA; Todd.gartner@wri.org; Lizzie.marsters@wri.org
     
     
    With shrinking city, state, and philanthropic budgets – new financing mechanisms and unique partnerships are essential to increasing investment in land, water, and communities to build resilience, address climate change, and support more inclusive economic growth. The good news is that private capital can help address these funding gaps. And the opportunity to unlock private capital for nature has never looked better. With sustained low interest rates, the cost of borrowing for nature is cheap and the amount of committed investor capital for nature is ever-increasing.
     
    Natural infrastructure - like forests that offer water filtration services, wetlands that serve as flood protection, or coral reefs that protect people and property from storm-impacts - can deliver on investor expectations. They can boost portfolio resilience as an uncorrelated asset to traditional investments, deliver significant cost-savings and/or generate consistent returns, and serve as one of the most cost-effective strategies to mitigating climate change. Despite the suggested alignment between sustainable capital and natural infrastructure, there are too few projects that are investment-ready.
     
    The World Resources Institute’s presentation highlights two proven strategies to successfully access private capital for natural infrastructure, offering insights into the enabling conditions, key actors, and opportunities for replication to make projects bankable. The first case study examines the issuance of the first-ever green bond to protect forests for drinking water by Little Rock’s Central Arkansas Water and will highlight the benefits to municipalities and utilities for issuing ‘green’.  The second case study explores the Forest Resilience Bond, a disaster risk-reduction financial instrument that mobilizes private capital for forest restoration treatments. These two projects illustrate paths to achieving conservation outcomes and enhancing community resilience to climate change by accessing private capital. They serve as models to better prepare other natural infrastructure projects for bankability.
     
     
     
     
     
  • Goats as Method of Control at Saint Vrain State Park
     
    Haley Stratton1*, Tamara Keefe2*
     
    1 Felsburg Holt & Ullevig (FHU), Centennial, Colorado, United States of America; haley.stratton@fhueng.com
    2 Felsburg Holt & Ullevig (FHU), Centennial, Colorado, United States of America; tamara.keefe@fhueng.com
     
    Saint Vrain State Park, located in the Town of Firestone, in Weld County, is the host to a wetland site constructed to mitigate for impacts from associated CDOT improvement projects. The 6-year-old mitigation site has had an adaptive management plan in place for the last year in hopes of achieving the required maximum 20% of non-native species cover as well as the required 6.92 acres of enhancement. With drone imagery taken before, during, and after weed control measures, the presentation will be full of imagery describing the success of using goats as a weed control method.  Since 2016, a yearly site assessment and monitoring report have provided helpful data on the success of the innovative weed control process. 
     
     
     
  •  
    The Escalante River: Sustaining hard-won restoration in a warmer and drier future
     
     
    Michael L. Scott1, 2
     
    1Coordinating Committee, Escalante River Watershed Partnership, Escalante, UT
    2Adjunct Faculty, Department of Geosciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
     
     
    The Escalante River channel and floodplain have a six-thousand-year history of dramatic ecological state changes associated with arroyo cut and fill cycles, driven largely by shifts in climate. Within this broader context, a recent and widespread invasion of the non-native tree, Russian olive, along the Escalante River, altered geomorphic and ecological processes as well as aesthetic qualities. Embedded within a landscape of intricate complexity and world class beauty, the Escalante River attracts visitors from across the globe. Thus, the Russian olive invasion prompted an ambitious, decade-long restoration effort by Grand Staircase Escalante Partners and the Escalante River Watershed Partnership, to remove established Russian olive, prevent re-invasion, and thus restore channel and floodplain processes that sustain native riparian vegetation. There is evidence suggesting exponential expansion of Russian olive along the Escalante was triggered by floods, which ushered in an extended, regional wet period. Given the climate-sensitivity of large-scale geomorphic processes and possible climate connections to plant invasions, on-going and predicted climate warming are concerning to local resource managers and human communities. Local historical climate records show a steady average annual temperature increase of +1.7o C, beginning in the 1970s, compared against the 100-year average, with no obvious trends in precipitation over the same period. Further, downscaled model projections for the watershed predict an additional 1.7o C increase in average annual temperature with no significant change in precipitation within the next 20 years; with or without attempts to mitigate CO2 emissions. Such changes raise questions on how well conservation objectives and tactics in the Escalante watershed are adapted to projected warmer and drier conditions. Specific questions in this regard include: 1) how are large-scale channel and floodplain processes likely to change? 2) will non-native plant invasion processes change or escalate? 3) with increasing water scarcity, how do we balance human community needs against those of water-dependent ecosystems?
     
     
  •  
     
    Freshwater Ecosystems and Climate Change Adaptation
     
    Bart (A.J.) Wickel1
    1Stockholm Environment Institute, Davis, California, USA; bart.wickel@sei.org
     
     
    Natural ecosystems form an integral buffer that can shield communities and society from extreme weather events and climate conditions such as droughts and floods.  As we are experiencing novel conditions due to changes in global climate caused by anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, the ability of ecosystems to adjust to and recover from disturbance events is increasingly exceeded. Simultaneously, the design and operational parameters for water management infrastructure are increasingly out of sync with emerging climate conditions.  Climate adaptation is defined as the process of adjusting to, and preparing for, the impacts of climate change while we get greenhouse gas emissions under control. Freshwater ecosystems can play a significant role in climate adaptation strategies but are also particularly vulnerable to specific impacts. In this presentation, I will discuss several types of climate adaptation strategies, approaches for developing them, lessons learned and share thoughts on how our collective experiences in the climate adaptation arena can benefit future efforts.
     
     
  •  
    Oasis in the Desert: A Showcase of Collaborative Restoration along Wild and Scenic Fossil Creek, Arizona
    Elaine Nichols1*, Tracy Stephens2, and Nancy Steele3
     
    1Friends of the Verde River, Cottonwood, AZ, USA; ElaineN@verderiver.org
    2Friends of the Verde River, Cottonwood, AZ, USA; TracyS@verderiver.org
    3Friends of the Verde River, Cottonwood, AZ, USA; NancyS@verderiver.org
     
    The Verde Watershed Restoration Coalition (VWRC) is a multi-stakeholder group made up of federal, tribal, and state agencies, private landowners, corporations, and non-profit organizations working together on a watershed-scale initiative to manage invasive plants and restore habitat. Since the inception of VWRC in 2009, Friends of the Verde River and VWRC partners have conducted habitat restoration projects on over 40 miles of streamside habitat on both public and private lands. This presentation will showcase watershed restoration work completed by a multi-stakeholder group along Wild and Scenic Fossil Creek in Arizona. Fossil Creek is a heavily used recreation area with lush riparian habitat. Field crews focus on treating four primary woody invasive species: saltcedar (Tamarix spp.), giant reed (Arundo donax), tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima), and Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia). Additional projects include vegetation monitoring, erosion control measures, human waste management, and trail improvement. This presentation will discuss the challenges that arise when implementing watershed improvement projects in remote, high-use areas, and adjacent wilderness.
     
     
     
  •  
    The One Riverfront Commission
     
    Dave Bastian*, First Last Name 2, and First Last Name 3
    1One Riverfront Commission, Grand Junction, CO; dabast@gmail.com 
     
    One Riverfront has a long history and has achieved some impressive feats since its creation. This poster will explain the history, mission and goals of One Riverfront and our role in the collaborative effort to foster community stewardship and enhance the Colorado and Gunnison River corridors. We will share some facts of the Colorado Riverfront Trail System and some of the things we have accomplished in thirty-plus years of all-volunteer work.
     
     
  •  
     
    Observed and Projected Climate Changes in the Western and Southwestern United States
     
    Gregg Garfin1*
     
    1Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center, Tucson, Arizona, USA; gmgarfin@arizona.edu
     
     
    Human caused changes to the earth’s climate system are already affecting the climate of the western United States. The most obvious direct observed changes include increased average and extreme temperatures, with increases in the number of extremely hot days and decreases in the number of very cold nights. Increased temperatures have led to a variety of indirect effects on the climate of the region, including decreases in spring snowpack, reduced snow water content, earlier snowmelt runoff in many parts of the region, and an increase in the fraction of winter and early spring precipitation falling as rain rather than snow, in some parts of the region. These hydrological changes, along with reduced soil moisture, at least partly attributed to regional warming trends, affect surface and groundwater hydrology. Recent studies have summarized some of these changes with memorable phrases, such as “warm snow drought,” and “reduced runoff efficiency.” Drought has been a signature impact across the region for millennia, due to the region’s geography and topography. While the most severe and sustained droughts in the region are recorded in proxy records, such as tree-rings, in the period before instrument observations, in recent decades human-caused climate changes have exacerbated hydroclimatic impacts of drought—intensifying the severity of the most recent drought period in southwestern North America. The region is also characterized by high year-to-year and multi-decade precipitation variability. Other regional natural resources and ecosystem impacts related to these factors include decreased surface water reliability, forest mortality, expanded wildfire seasons, and wildlife population stress and mortality episodes.
     
    Given assumptions of continued high rates of greenhouse gas emissions, climate models confidently project further increases in temperature, which will amplify changes to snow hydrology, including an increase in the average lowest elevation at which snow falls (which will reduce water storage in the snowpack, particularly at elevations which are now on the margins of reliable snowpack accumulation), earlier snowmelt and timing of runoff, and less snow-covered area. Temperature and snow-related changes have implications for streamflow and stream temperatures—warmer streams, less snowfall, and changes to snowmelt timing all have important knock-on effects in riparian areas. Models project increased annual average precipitation for the northern part of the western U.S. and decreased annual average precipitation in the southern part of the western U.S., due to projected alterations of the atmospheric circulation patterns responsible for guiding winter and spring storm tracks. Models project increases in extreme precipitation events, due to increases in the atmospheric water vapor generated over warmer ocean source regions.
     
    Although projections of future precipitation totals are accompanied by much uncertainty, increased temperatures will increase the risks of more severe drought, greater regional aridity (especially in the Southwest) and increased wildfire occurrence and severity. Environmental consequences of these changes will depend on management actions and adaptations a variable and more extreme future climate.
     
     

     

  •  
    Field Work In The Time Of COVID
     
    Dave Bastian1*, Sean Damitz2, and Brigit Eastep3
     
    1Canyon Country Youth Corps, Monticello, UT; daveb@ccdiscovery.org 2Utah Conservation Corps/Logan, UT; sean.damitz@usu.edu  3Intergovernmental Internship Cooperative, Cedar City, UT; eastep@suu.edu
     
    The COVID pandemic hit the United States and lockdowns began to roll across the country right at the time that many Conservation Corps were gearing up for their field season. In the case of Utah Corps programs, many of our participants were on site on March 16th when Utah began its COVID restrictions. Faced with sending members home or quickly figuring out ways to adapt, Utah Conservation Corps chose the latter.  We successfully navigated to a new normal, finding ways to engage in work while public lands were shut down, and collaborating with each other and national programs to come up with field protocols to keep our members, staff, and partners safe as they returned to public lands projects.
     
    Now, with one of the most challenging field seasons in our rear-view mirror, we can say we learned a quite a bit, made some correct moves, made many adjustments along the way, and emerged with a feeling that we can do it again once the 2021 field season begins. And we are not just going off of a gut feeling. We have some data to back it up.
     
    In this presentation, we will tell some stories, share some tips, and present the data in a way that will hopefully encourage others to continue this important work in what will likely be another tough field season to come.
     
     
     
     
     
  •  
    Expanding our Knowledge on the Mitochondrial Genomes of the Tamarisk Leaf Beetles, Diorhabda spp.
    Payton Wills1*, Zeynep Ozsoy 2
    1 Department of Biological Sciences, Colorado Mesa University, Grand Junction, Colorado, USA;
    2 Department of Biological Sciences, Colorado Mesa University, Grand Junction, Colorado, USA;
     
    Tamarisk is an introduced, invasive plant species that has dominated the riverbeds across the Northern American continent since the 1800s. Tamarisk leaf beetles, Diorhabda spp, were introduced into these environments beginning in 2001 as a biological control agent to contain the spread of Tamarisk. There are currently four known and described species of the Diorhabda beetle in North America that originate from different regions of the world. The mitochondrial genomes of two of the species, Diorhabda carinata and Diorhabda carinulata, have been previously assembled using sequences from shot gun sequencing. Here we report the mitochondrial genomes of the remaining two species, Diorhabda sublineata and Diorhabda elongata, that are being assembled from Sanger sequencing data.
     
     
  •  
    Climate Services for Climate-Adapted Stream Restoration
     
    Sarah LeRoy1*
     
    1University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA; sary21@arizona.edu
     
    Climate change is dramatically impacting temperatures and precipitation patterns around the globe with cascading impacts on many natural resource processes. The flow regimes of streams of dryland regions are being particularly impacted. For practitioners working to restore stream conditions, the impacts of climate change on stream processes can reduce the effectiveness of restoration tactics and make restoration objectives more difficult (if not impossible) to achieve. Therefore, to improve likelihood for success and long-term viability of stream restoration efforts, practitioners need to develop climate-adapted restoration responses that are based on a sound understanding of what climate change means in the region where the stream restoration effort is taking place. To accomplish this, practitioners need rigorous climate data and information, such as projections of temperature and precipitation for their study region, and an understanding of how to interpret the data. Today, there are many agencies and organizations involved in gathering, analyzing, and distributing climatic data, projections, and information to the public and decision-makers. These groups are referred to as climate services, and in recent years the number of these groups has increased dramatically. In this presentation, I will review climate services in the U.S. and northern Mexico, and also discuss other sources of climate data and information that are available to assist stream practitioners in developing effective climate-adapted restoration responses.
     
     

     

  • A Snapshot, Repeated; Riparian Vegetation Change in Response to Altered Flow Regimes and Geomorphology, San Juan River, SE Utah
     
    Cynthia Dott1*, Gary Gianniny2
     
    1Department of Biology - Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO, USA; dott_c@fortlewis.edu
    2Department of Geosciences - Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO, USA; gianniny_g@fortlewis.edu
     
     
    Western rivers, always highly variable in terms of hydrology and sedimentation, have experienced a tremendous amount of change during the last century.  The San Juan River in the Four Corners region of North America’s southwest is no exception, and its lower reaches above Lake Powell provide an opportunity to observe how variation in geomorphic setting, sediment dynamics and hydrology – due to damming and climate change – have driven changes in woody riparian vegetation (both native and non-native).  By using a combination of repeat photography, dendrochronology and plant community data, we can begin to tell the story of sequential waves of vegetation colonization that have occurred over this century of change. 
    There are several key changes we have observed in this system:
    • In the 1920s, very little vegetation existed in any portion of the river corridor, including wide alluvial reaches, due to scouring by huge floods in the 1890s, 1911, and 1927.  By the 1940s-50s cottonwood (Populus fremontii) and willow (Salix exigua) had begun to colonize portions of the alluvial floodplain, but in the bedrock canyons very little vegetation occurred other than sparse willow.
    • Beginning after the completion of Navajo Dam upstream in 1962, the braided alluvial channels began to narrow, islands stabilized with vegetation, and total abundance of riparian plants increased.  Zones of cottonwood at the rear, with tamarisk (Tamarix spp) and willow closer to the banks became established. 
    • In contrast, there is little evidence of channel narrowing or sediment accumulation in the bedrock canyons.  However, tamarisk and willow – but not cottonwood – colonized the river banks in many portions of the bedrock canyons beginning in the 1950s or 60s.
    • Tamarisk, once dominant in alluvial valleys and locally in bedrock canyons is now declining, at least in part due to the successful biocontrol of tamarisk leaf beetle (Diorhabda spp).
    • Russian olive (Eleagnus angustifolia) colonization occurred in the alluvial floodplain perhaps as early as the early 1960s (based on dendrochronology data), and they were certainly present by the early 1970s based on historic photographs.  By the 1990s Russian olive (RO) formed dense stands along the river banks in the alluvial valleys.  Since this time, RO has begun migrating downstream into the constrained bedrock canyons.  RO saplings are now observed in all reaches – regardless of geomorphic type - but can be hard to detect as young individuals because they grow up through the willow canopy, or in some cases form a low ground cover due to heavy browsing by beaver!
    • There is an astonishing increase in willow density and height in all reaches, but most notably on Lake Powell sediment that is now creating low, inset alluvial floodplains within the bedrock canyons below Slickhorn Gulch/above Clay Hills.  These areas also host Baccharis spp (seep willow), Phragmites (giant reed), and the invasive ravenna grass (Saccharum ravennae).
     
    It is important to remember that vegetation responds to changes not only in geomorphic setting, but also to changes in hydrology and disturbance.  The pre-dam conditions that once favored cottonwood and tamarisk colonization no longer exist for most of this portion of the San Juan River.  Instead, lower dam-release flows, the lack of high flow erosion, and decreased flows associate with multi-year drought favor coyote willow and Russian olive.  Based on changes observed in repeat photography and the abundance of RO saplings in all reaches of the river, we predict that without significant removal efforts Russian olive will achieve high densities throughout the canyons within the next 10-20 years.
     
     
     
  •   
    Engaging the Whole Community in Restoration: Considerations for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Outdoor Stewardship
     
    David Fulton-Beale1, Jackie Curry2
     
    1Wildlands Restoration Volunteers, Longmont, Colorado, USA, david@wlrv.org 
    2Wildlands Restoration Volunteers, Longmont, Colorado, USA, jackie@wlrv.org 
     
     
    Wildlands Restoration Volunteers (WRV) is a nonprofit based on the Front Range of Colorado. Over the past 20 years, we have been working to engage volunteers in stewardship of public, protected, and ecologically significant lands across Colorado and beyond, and have grown to engage thousands of volunteers on over 150 projects each year.  In this presentation we will be sharing different techniques and actions WRV is taking to address barriers to outdoor recreation and restoration opportunities for underrepresented communities. As an organization, we are working on identifying and dismantling these barriers because we recognize that having a diverse volunteer community will strengthen and enrich our mission of building community and healing the land. While we do not have all of the answers, we will outline some of the steps we are taking to build a more inclusive community and our experience starting this process. We hope that we can help organizations learn from our experience and engage in this work in their communities. 
     
     
      
     
  •  
     
    Expanding the Southeast Aquatic Barrier Prioritization Tool:  Assessing Aquatic Fragmentation in the Western United States
     
    Kat Hoenke1*, Jessica Graham2, Brendan Ward3
     
    1 Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership, 2957 Kingsmark Ct, Abingdon, MD 21009;  kat@southeastaquatics.net
    2 SARP; Brendan Ward
    3Conservation Biology Institute
     
     
    Fragmentation of river habitats by anthropogenic barriers is one of the primary threats to aquatic species in the United States. In an effort to address this issue, SARP has been working with partners including USFWS to identify, prioritize, and remove barriers to aquatic organisms in the Southeastern United States through the Southeast Aquatic Connectivity Program. SARP has developed a comprehensive living inventory of dams and road stream barriers, detailed metrics to prioritize these barriers for removal or bypass, and has been working with partners within state-based Aquatic Connectivity Teams to incorporate on the ground information and implement high priority barrier removal or remediation projects. Through working with the Conservation Biology Institute and Astute Spruce, SARP's inventory and prioritization has been optimized and formatted into a user-friendly interactive tool for use by partners. With funding from the US Fish and Wildlife Service Fish Passage Program, this inventory and tool will be expanded into an additional 10 western states over the next three years. The Southeast Aquatic Barrier Prioritization tool provides summaries of barrier densities within user specified areas of interest and allows users to prioritize barriers for removal based on ecological metrics using various filters. The results provided by the tool help identify high priority projects to implement and allow resource managers to access information regarding barrier locations and attributes that were not readily accessible in a one stop shop prior to SARP’s work. SARP is currently in the data collection phase for the expansion of this work into the west, and is actively looking for sources of data.
     
     
     

     

  •  
     
    Virtual Connections Building Towards Real World Collaborative Watershed Management in the San Juan Basin
    Alyssa Richmond1
    1San Juan Watershed Group, Aztec, NM, USA; alyssa.richmond@sanjuanswcd.com
     
    The San Juan Watershed Group (SJWG) completed the Lower Animas Watershed Based Plan (LAWBP) in 2016. Over the past four years, the group and its partners have begun implementing projects outlined in the plan to improve water quality and watershed health. Through the culmination of our capacity building and lessons learned from project management and outreach, the SJWG is now planning to expand our work through a restoration plan along the San Juan River and its major tributaries between Navajo Lake State Park and Shiprock, New Mexico.
    One of the most instrumental lessons learned from the LAWBP is that waiting to establish community connections and build trust until the end of the planning process slowed the anticipated momentum on conducting water quality improvement projects.  Conducting outreach early and consistently throughout the planning process correlates to more impactful implementation of on the ground projects that are both valued by the community and lead to non-point source pollution reductions. The SJWG have adapted their strategy to begin the watershed planning process early via thorough Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis and stakeholder outreach, which is now being conducted through a virtual ArcGIS Online mapping format. This ensures public safety during COVID-19 and streamlines collection of community needs and values. Essentially a virtual method to posted notes on a large printed out map, this live, interactive, and transparent mapping process ensures community members lead the discussion on known areas of concern and identifying categories of watershed restoration methods. From this accumulative input, the SJWG, government agencies, tribal entities, municipalities, nonprofits, local work groups, and the general public can prioritize and implement these restoration methods together to benefit water quality and watershed health. One significant example from this effort is the hosting of a Russian Olive Community Forum as requested by the Navajo community, which bridged relationships with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to partner in an inventory of Russian Olive throughout District 12 of the Navajo Nation. In keeping an open mind to community concerns, even more doors are kept open to nurture relationships that would not have occurred otherwise.  
     
     
     
  •  
    Cameo Post-Fire Vegetation Restoration & Lessons Learned
    Kyle Alstatt, Cory Lidberg* and Melissa Werkmeister*
    U.S.Bureau of Reclamation, Western Colorado Area Office, Grand Junction, Colorado, U.S.A.
    Kyle Alstatt – kalstatt@usbr.gov; Cory Lidberg* – clidberg@usbr.gov; Melissa Werkmeister* - mwerkmeister@usbr.gov
     
    After fire impacted Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) and private properties along the Colorado River in spring 2018, Riversedge West (REW) applied for and secured grant funding through the Colorado Water Conservation Board for restoration efforts to control noxious weeds (including tamarisk and Russian olive, or TRO), followed by seeding native grass species. The BOR  worked directly to begin restoring approximately 25 acres of federal land in the Cameo, Colorado area.
    Vegetation management goals were identified.  BOR folks chemically controlled noxious weeds, and the Western Colorado Conservation Corps, through REW, used cut stump treatments of TRO. After invasive species are controlled, the site will be reseeded (February 2021) with a native grass species mix.  Ongoing monitoring and maintenance will be completed for a minimum of 5 years past the completion of the project.
    Issues we encountered and pursued resolution of:  site access; equipment repairs; weather conditions and timing chemical control of weeds; seed planting timing; COVID-19 field work restrictions; staff turnover and rehiring delays; conflicts with other spring and fall work scheduling; surrounding area noxious weeds infestations; allelopathy remaining in the soil post Russian knapweed control; and long-term noxious weed maintenance.
     
     
  •  
     
    How to Use the National River Recreation Database to Plan and Execute Research and Management Objectives
     
    James Major1*
     
    1 River Management Society, Flagstaff, Arizona, U.S.A., james@river-management.org
     
     
    This presentation will inform viewers of the status and trajectory of the National River Recreation Database, which is a central component of the National Rivers Project, maintained by the River Management Society. The National River Recreation Database is the only searchable geospatial national rivers database members of the public and river managers can use to shop, review, or analyze rivers by geographical location, river name, and managing agency.  Since 2013, River Management Society has been working with state and federal land managers, municipal water trail leaders, and non-profit organizations to develop a standard of data for a geospatial database of recreational river reaches, access points, and campgrounds. Visitors can search rivers by their designation as a water trail, whitewater, or federally protected Wild and Scenic River. The presentation will provide a detailed ‘tour’ of the database and offer experience working with components of the database to show how the geospatial and ‘attribute’ data are available to plan river trips and conduct river-related research or management assessments. The central focus of the tour will be on Bureau of Land Management managed Wild and Scenic Rivers in the West that are currently being added to the database and will be available in 2021. Attendees will learn how the database can be used beyond recreational purposes to pursue management and research objectives, both in the field and in the lab or office.
     
     
     
     
     
  •  
     
    New Findings on the Climate Sensitivity of the Water Balance of the Upper Colorado River Basin
     
    Chris Milly1
     
    1 Integrated Modeling and Prediction Division, U.S. Geological Survey
     
    The structure and function of rivers and riparian environments depend on many factors, and these include both climate and human disturbances. Under a changing climate, river restoration efforts may benefit from information about the future trajectory of climate and its impact on water balance. Because of the central role played by the Colorado River for water supply in the Southwest, many scientific investigations have been undertaken over the years in an effort to define the climate sensitivity of runoff in the Upper Colorado River Basin (UCRB). These investigations have yielded frustratingly inconsistent results. We found that the widely varying estimates of sensitivity of UCRB runoff to climate can be reconciled by recognizing certain shortcomings in the methods that have been used until now. By avoiding these shortcomings, we have considerably narrowed the uncertainty in climate sensitivity of the UCRB. Our analysis shows that (and, importantly, explains why) the amount of reduction in flow that results from atmospheric warming is strongly dependent on the seasonal cycle of snow cover; this finding may be useful in predicting which sub-basins within the UCRB are least/most sensitive to warming.
     
     
     
  •  
     
     
    Mitigating Impacts of Climate Change at Watershed Scales
     
    Chris Sturm1
     
    1 Colorado Water Conservation Board
     
     
    Recent studies by the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) suggest a potential increase in short-duration rainfall intensity of 5-15% in Colorado. As the pendulum swings between drought and extreme precipitation events, the CWCB is developing a more proactive approach to post-fire flood mitigation. Planning for disaster recovery during or between disasters, i.e. fire followed by flood, does not often allow for innovative or long term solutions. CWCB staff will discuss strategies to mitigate impacts from post-fire flooding. The need to leverage planning across disciplines within the same watershed is greater than ever. Plans and projects designed to benefit water supply, ecological health (structure and function), and flood mitigation are true multi-objective efforts that are positioned favorable to compete for funding.
     
     
     

     

     

     

  •  
    Applied Remote Sensing in the Middle Rio Grande
    Chris Sanderson1*, Ondrea Hummel1
     
    1 Tetra Tech, Albuquerque, NM, USA; ondrea.hummel@tetratech.com, chris.sanderson@tetratech.com
     
    Riparian ecosystem disturbance occurring at broad temporal and spatial scales must be examined on a landscape-scale to evaluate the magnitude and character change. Over the past century the overall quality of riparian habitats in the Middle Rio Grande have been negatively impacted by several anthropogenic factors and more recently by the introduction of the tamarisk leaf beetle (Diorhabda spp., TLB) as a biological control agent to suppress tamarisk (Tamarix spp.). Ongoing TLB defoliation has resulted in reduced vegetative cover and novel fire behavior in riparian areas, which has negatively impacted Southwestern Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) (flycatcher) breeding and nesting habitat.
    The use of remote sensing (RS) and vegetation indices is ideally suited to monitor landscape-scale ecosystem change related to the photosynthetic process and primary production, growth patterns, and the extent and severity of fire events. For example, the range and timing of Diorhabda defoliation or the extent and severity of fire is difficult to track and analyze from the ground but can be rapidly and repeatably characterized using RS techniques. We will present RS methods using Sentinel-2A, a moderate resolution earth observation data, and several RS outputs used to support field-based monitoring practices and habitat restoration analysis and planning. These methods have been developed to characterize target areas, understand spatial patterning and their underlying processes, prioritize field efforts, and quantify vegetation change over time.
    In the first case study, we will present RS techniques used to monitor tamarisk-dominated stands over a 3-year period, during which TLB became an established disturbance agent. The second case study will describe examples of RS techniques used to support post-fire habitat restoration planning in a 9,000-acre riparian context. Examples of burn area mapping and ground verification techniques using RS will be presented.
     
     
     

     

  •  
     
    Cover of Tamarix Covaries With Regional and Local Environmental Factors To Explain The Functional Composition Of Riparian Plant Communities
     
    Annie Henry1*, Eduardo González2, Bérenger Bourgeois3, Anna Sher 1
     
    1 University of Denver, Department of Biological Sciences, Denver, CO USA
    2 Colorado State University, Department of Biology, Fort Collins, CO USA
    3 Department of Plant Sciences, Université Laval, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
     
     
    In the southwestern U.S., Tamarix has become an inextricable part of the landscape. While removal has been a priority for decades and Diorhabda biocontrol agent continues to expand, studies reporting vegetation response to Tamarix control have focused on species-based approaches. Understanding the functional composition of plant communities sheds light on the mechanisms of change in response to species invasion as well as subsequent removal. This study employs functional diversity metrics as well as guilds - suites of species with similar traits - to assess the influence of Tamarix cover on the functional composition of riparian plant communities in the southwestern United States. We asked: 1) What traits define riparian plant guilds? 2) How do the abundances of each guild vary along a gradient of Tamarix cover and abiotic conditions? 3) How does the functional diversity of the plant community respond to the combined gradient of Tamarix cover and abiotic conditions? We found nine distinct clusters primarily defined by reproductive strategy, as well as height, seed weight, specific leaf area, drought and anaerobic tolerance. Guild abundance varied along a covarying gradient of local and regional environmental factors and Tamarix cover. Guilds focused on sexual reproduction, i.e., producing many light seeds over a long period of time were more strongly associated with drier sites and higher Tamarix cover. Tamarix itself facilitated more shade tolerant species with higher specific leaf areas than would be expected in resource poor environments. Additionally, we found a high degree of specialization in wetter, more flood prone, low Tamarix cover sites as well as in drier, more stable, high Tamarix cover sites. These guilds can be referred to when anticipating plant community response to restoration efforts and in selecting appropriate species for revegetation. 
     
     
     
  •  
    The Impacts of the Tamarisk Beetle on Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Habitat on the Middle Rio Grande, NM
    Kristen Dillon1
    1 Bureau of Reclamation, Denver, CO
     
    The Rio Grande in New Mexico currently supports one of the largest breeding populations of the endangered Southwestern Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus; SWFL) in the United States. Approximately 300 SWFL breeding territories are documented on the Middle Rio Grande annually, and in recent years 75% of nests are constructed in salt cedar (Tamarix spp.). The tamarisk beetle (Diorhabda spp.) was first detected on the Rio Grande in 2012 and had expanded throughout the Middle Rio Grande river corridor by 2016. The Bureau of Reclamation began a photographic monitoring study of the impacts of beetle defoliation in occupied SWFL breeding habitat in 2015. The study employs hemispherical photography, landscape photography, and microclimate monitoring to document changes in SWFL habitat due to beetle defoliation. No defoliation was documented at the study sites in the first two years of the study. Severe defoliation was documented in 2017 and 2018, followed by two years without breeding season defoliation in 2019 and 2020.  Despite the lack of direct beetle impact in 2019 and 2020, landscape and hemispherical photography found an overall decline in vegetation health and canopy cover in some sites as a persistent result of multiple previous years of defoliation. Although canopy cover remained within the apparent range of natural variation observed in the study, the decline was sufficient to result in increased temperature and aridity of SWFL breeding habitat.
     
     
  •  
     
    Rivers as Economic Engines
     
    Fay Hartman1
     
    1Conservation Director, Colorado River Basin Program, American Rivers, Washington, DC and Denver, CO, 616-990-0049; fhartman@americanrivers.org   
     
    Fay will present findings from American Rivers’ report “Rivers as Economic Engines.” She will talk about how public investments in natural infrastructure, river restoration and healthy rivers can create jobs, strengthen local communities, improve public health, and address longstanding injustices and harm caused by a long-term lacRivers as Economic Enginesk of investment in Black, Indigenous, Latino, and low-income communities. Fay will talk about the importance of public funding for healthy rivers and restoration projects in Colorado and beyond. She will discuss different types of public funding and examples of where communities have come together to develop and raise public funds for river health and restoration projects. Attendees will learn about economic information related to natural infrastructure, river restoration and watershed health and the importance of public funding for river health and ways communities can build and leverage public funding.
  •  
    Recovery of Salix following Tamarix removal
     
    Alexander Goetz1*, Ian Moffit1, Anna Sher1
     
    1 University of Denver, Department of Biological Sciences, Denver, CO 
     
     
    Removal of invasive Tamarix spp. in the American Southwest has had deleterious impacts on habitat availability for the endangered Southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax extimus trailii, abbr. SWFL), which nests readily in Tamarix when native Salix canopy is not present. Understanding the characteristics associated with Salix recovery can allow for more effective targeting of restoration efforts in the context of SWFL conservation. If we can identify conditions leading to more native vegetation cover as well as habitat protection for the SWFL, we can prioritize efforts more effectively and reduce conflict between conservation goals.  Using a multi-state dataset of Tamarix removal sites in three different watersheds, we ask the following questions: (1) Does removal of Tamarix lead to the establishment of Salix? (2) Which Tamarix removal methods have the best outcomes in terms of Salix cover? (3) What environmental conditions are required to implement a successful Salix restoration effort? We compiled data on vegetation response to Tamarix removal consisting of plant cover, soils, and geographic conditions in riparian areas of the American Southwest. In total, there were 243 sites where Tamarix had been subject to active removal and/or biocontrol and 172 reference sites. We examined total cover of all Salix species and separately analyzed only S. exigua, the most dominant species. We used two measures of Salix and S. exigua response to restoration: final year of cover and cover change over time. We used linear mixed models with backward stepwise selection to predict response of Salix cover to multiple environmental and restoration factors. In addition, we tested effects of individual independent variables on Salix cover, both final-year outcomes and change over time. Finally, we constructed mixed models to compare Salix cover change over time with Tamarix cover change over time, both overall and by removal method. We found that (1) while decreased Tamarix cover is associated with an increase in Salix, the increase does not compensate for the overall losses in canopy cover. (2) We did not find a significant difference in Salix cover among Tamarix removal methods or relative to negative reference sites; however, sites where herbicide was applied at any point had higher Salix cover. (3) We found significant impacts of several environmental characteristics including soil properties, distance to water, and initial Salix cover on Salix and S. exigua cover. Our data reflect the fact that Salix and Tamarix occupy distinct environmental niches. Our findings suggest that Tamarix removal does not necessarily lead to favorable outcomes for SWFL conservation but that outcomes can be improved by focusing on sites more likely to promote Salix growth based on environmental characteristics.
     
     
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    Testing Methods to Improve Monitoring of Riparian Habitat Restoration Performance at Multiple Scales 
     
    Bruce Orr1*, Rafael Real de Asua2, Zooey Diggory3, Doug Titus4, Megan Keever5 
     
    1Stillwater Sciences, Berkeley, CA, USA; bruce@stillwatersci.com 
    2Stillwater Sciences, Berkeley, CA, USA; raf@stillwatersci.com 
    3Valley Water, San Jose, CA, USA; Zdiggory@valleywater.org 
    4Valley Water, San Jose, CA, USA; DTitus@valleywater.org 
    5Stillwater Sciences, Berkeley, CA, USA; megan@stillwatersci.com 
     
    Improving our ability to monitor the performance of mitigation and restoration projects (here loosely defined to include projects that may involve habitat creation, rehabilitation, enhancement, or true historical restoration) in an accurate and cost-effective manner is a critical need for effective conservation and adaptive management in river-riparian ecosystems throughout the western United States and beyond. We initiated a pilot study on the Guadalupe River (San Jose, CA) to compare standard field survey methods for monitoring vegetation with methods based on remote sensing data (multispectral imagery and LiDAR) for a variety of riparian habitat mitigation sites of varying ages (from recently implemented sites to some that are now over 20 years old) and sizes (from individual sites of a few acres on up to reach and river corridor scales that may cover 100s of acres or more). Aside from our general interest in exploring more cost-effective approaches that combine field data collection with remote sensing to assess performance metrics, this pilot project was motivated by challenges associated with the pandemic that prevented access to some sites that were required to be monitored in 2020. 
     
    Given the various objectives for the long-term monitoring program, the focus of the pilot study was on testing and comparing methods for monitoring changes in shaded riverine habitat (aquatic habitat shaded by overhead riparian vegetation) and riparian vegetation and habitat (e.g., plant cover, canopy height, and vertical vegetation structure that affects habitat suitability for key focal species). In addition, we are exploring the ability of high-resolution aerial LiDAR to detect ground disturbance, and artificial structures associated human recreational use and encampments. We will discuss our preliminary findings and ideas regarding the costs and benefits associated with field surveys and remote sensing, with the goal of finding more optimal combinations of both approaches for monitoring at various spatial and temporal scales. 
     
     
     
     
     
     

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