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  • The facilitator tool kit is a comprehensive, easy-to-use guide to tools, methods and techniques for assisting groups with planning and improvement projects and interactive meetings. Its clear, simple explanations and directions lead the reader through the selection and application of practical tools that have been tested with university groups.

  • This document profiles restoration success stories from New Mexico. Projects were funded through the River Ecosystem Restoration Initiative.

  • Chris Sturm, Colorado Water Conservation Board, presents on Flood Recovery Update from the Colorado Water Conservation Board at the 2016 Conference.
  • In April 2021 partners signed an updated DRRP Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the third time in the history of the partnership.  This MOU is a  a non-binding agreement which is meant to encourage collaborative riparian restoration along the Dolores River.  Additionally it serves to identify the ecological, social, cultural, and economic goals of the DRRP.

  • The goal of this lessons learned project is two-fold – to understand and capture the factors that have led to partnership successes and failures and memorialize those lessons and use them to inform how REW provides services and assistance to partnerships moving forward. Results of the lessons learned study describe key lessons learned regarding how well collaborative watershed partnerships worked together to achieve their goals as well as how well REW supported these collaborative efforts. 

    Watershed Management Group’s River Run Network
    Trevor Hare*1, Lisa Shipek2, Catlow Shipek3
    1River Restoration Biologist, Watershed Management Group, Tucson, Arizona USA;; 520 906-9854
    2Executive Director, Watershed Management Group, Tucson, Arizona, USA
    3Policy and Technical Director, Watershed Management Group, Tucson, Arizona, USA;,
    In 2014 Watershed Management Group started the River Run Network to foster support for our 50-year vision to restore Tucson’s heritage of flowing rivers and creeks. The network is made up of individuals and organizations that share this vision and are dedicated to taking action to protect remaining riparian areas and restore those we have lost.
    The Tucson basin was divided into streamsheds that are made up of stream reaches and adjacent uplands that most influences the stream and have common characteristics and restoration goals. On our interactive web-based map the public can find their area of interest and see how the area connects to the stream through nearby drainages, arroyos, and shallow groundwater areas; and what the impacts are from nearby groundwater wells, residential and commercial developments, and road infrastructure.
    For each streamshed there are specific recommendations on the actions anybody can take to enhance local groundwater infiltration, riparian habitat, and streamflow. Actions focus on conserving water, reducing groundwater demands, increasing recharge, and restoring rivers, creeks, arroyos and riparian habitat. Examples of restoration projects undertaken by WMG will be shared and include work along Tanque Verde Creek and Ciénega Creek.
    The River Run Network was recently bolstered by a Bureau of Reclamation WaterSMART grant to support the formation of the Santa Cruz Watershed Collaborative and development of a Santa Cruz Watershed Restoration Plan. The Collaborative is made up of local, state and federal government agencies, conservation organizations, farmers, water providers, and businesses with a mission “To collaboratively restore the hydrological and ecological function of the watershed. By fostering cooperation, SCWC enables watershed leaders to make well-informed management and policy decisions.”
  • Sher et al. 2020

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

  • 2018 Dolores River Restoration Partnership Annual Report 

  • Clark et al. 2019

    The science-practice gap is often cited as a limitation to successful restoration outcomes; however, the existence of such a gap in information exchange is rarely measured. Here, we quantify the gap by focusing on common recommendations from both scientists (i.e. researchers) and managers (i.e. practitioners, land managers) on what is needed for successful restoration. We surveyed 45 managers associated with 244 invasive species (Tamarix spp.) removal projects across the southwestern U.S. to determine the degree to which they have utilized four strategies advocated by scientists: (1) collaborate widely, (2) monitorbeyond cursory visual methods, (3) use a variety of information sources, and (4) consider project goals beyond invasive species removal. Half of these managers were also interviewed to assess managers’ perceptions of the role of science in restoration. Twenty-three scientists specializing in Tamarix-related research in this region were also surveyed to assess how much they understood and/or shared the concerns of land managers.We found that managers were following scientists’ recommendations and thatmanagers’ perceptions of the role of science in land management did not have any bearing on the management actions taken. Scientists reported being influenced by managers, and the concerns of scientists and managers were more overlapping than expected. Boundary organizations and river-wide partnerships were often cited as important in facilitating effective communication between land managers and scientists. A lack of funding for monitoring and for longer-term projects was cited by both groups as a limitation to incorporating scientists’ recommendations into restoration.

  • This report synthesizes key programmatic successes and lessons learned from collaborative watershed restoration partnerships in the Colorado River Basin (CRB), with emphasis on partnerships funded by the Walton Family Foundation (WFF or Foundation), through its Freshwater Initiative Program. The intended audience for this report includes potential funders interested in replicating or contributing to a comparable program, as well as other professionals and community members looking to initiate or enhance collaborative restoration efforts within their respective watersheds.

    RiversEdge West (REW), a regional nonprofit with the mission of improving riparian habitat through education, collaboration, and technical assistance, was tasked by the WFF to synthesize this report given its long-term role as a leader and technical assistance provider for the watershed partnership groups profiled in this document.   

    Utilizing its long-standing relationships, REW completed interviews with a suite of partners in an attempt to discern and catalogue programmatic successes and lessons learned across watersheds. Information garnered from these discussions has been compiled, with specific comments remaining anonymous. Other literature was utilized to augment personal communications.

  • The Evolution of the Cross Watershed Network
    The Cross Watershed Network (XWN), was a regional network that connected watershed practitioners across watersheds in the Southwest U.S. through information sharing, collective capacity building, and collaboration. In its eight years as an active network from 2012 – 2020, the XWN successfully engaged over 500 practitioners from agencies, organizations, universities, and consulting groups working on ecological restoration, conservation, and related watershed management efforts.
    At a time when there were very few existing networks in the Southwest focused on place-based watershed partnerships and organizations, the XWN was truly a catalyst for fostering peer - to peer- learning through in person workshops, field based cross visits and an online practitioner directory.
    The XWN Steering Committee, consisting of XWN members representative of five different states, drove and managed the network and RiversEdge West served on the Steering Committee for the life of the network, in addition to being the fiscal agent.
    With any initiative, change is inevitable. Change can be hard, but it can also breathe life into new initiatives and opportunities. The XWN certainly changed over the years during its existence. It started out small, and blossomed into a thriving, active network, and then towards the end of the eight years, funding became scarcer, staff turnover became challenging and new initiatives started to emerge.
    The XWN Steering Committee members saw this change as an opportunity and stated to foster other networks that were trying to get started, utilizing their experience and knowledge with the XWN. This started the evolution of the XWN from a network into a tool kit and blueprint for others looking to create collaborative networks for watershed and community – based conservation issues.
    A few members of the XWN Steering Committee (Stacy Beaugh with Strategic by Nature, Tahnee Robertson with Southwest Decision Resources, and Shannon Wadas with RiversEdge West) embarked on a journey to look back on the evolution of the XWN and to put this voyage into a lessons learned document in order to celebrate the success of the network, and to provide a more tangible resource or tool kit for others. You can find a copy of the report here. We hope you find it interesting and helpful!
    Lastly, the XWN stimulated and supported three peer- learning networks, all of which are currently active and going strong! We encourage you to check these networks out and get involved:
    • Arizona XWN, a state-based network. This mid-scale approach (between local and regional watersheds) increases both funding opportunities and engagement that are difficult to obtain at a multi-state, regional level. State-based networks can also take advantage of the continuity within its boundaries and the increased likelihood of local practitioner participation in workshops. While every state is different, this smaller scale approach has proven to be effective in Arizona.  
    • Southwest Collaborative Support Network (SWCSN), a peer-to-peer regional network of facilitators, coordinators, and leaders of place-based collaboratives who share methods, practical tools, and lessons, and collaborate to solve common challenges.
    • Western Collaborative Conservation Network (WCCN), a regional network supporting and linking community-based collaborative conservation efforts in forests, grasslands and watersheds. This network serves as an umbrella for smaller, state and place-based networks and collaboratives.


  • 2021 Dolores River Restoration Partnership Annual Report

    Local Southwest Utah Partnership Engages Youth to Mitigate Flood Damage, Control Invasive Species, and Restore Native Habitat
    Wesley Pickett1*, Ian Torrence2, Aaron Wilson3
    1American Conservation Experience, Hurricane, UT, USA;
    2American Conservation Experience, Flagstaff, AZ, USA;
    3American Conservation Experience, Hurricane, UT, USA;
    American Conservation Experience (ACE), a non-profit service organization, provides its young and diverse members with career-building opportunities in the field of restoration through education and hands-on experience. Facilitation of member growth comes partly through the organization's commitment to partners with like-minded federal, state, local, and non-profit land agencies and organizations that assist with member guidance and mentorship. Since the fall of 2014, ACE crews, based out of Hurricane, Utah, worked in conjunction with the Washington County Flood Control Authority (WCFCA). In August of 2012 Washington County, the City of St. George, Washington City, and Santa Clara City entered into an inter-local agency cooperative agreement establishing the Washington County Flood Control Authority.  The purpose of the Flood Control Authority (FCA) is to better share management, administration, and cost responsibilities for regional stormwater drainage and flood control concerns that cross common community boundaries. Projects that were completed under WCFCA guidance engaged youth crews in restoring riparian ecosystems around the Virgin and Santa Clara Rivers while protecting residential and commercial infrastructure in Washington County from potentially future devastating flooding events.
    Crews surveyed for salt cedar (Tamarix spp.), Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia), giant reed (Arundo donax), flood debris piles, and damaged infrastructure (like gabion baskets and bridges). This work provided the WCFCA data on areas of infrastructural concern and highlighted priority areas for invasive species removal. ACE crews controlled salt cedar, Russian olive, and giant reed along the riparian corridors of the Virgin and Santa Clara Rivers by mechanical and chemical means. Additionally, along the Santa Clara River, ACE crews revegetated with native plant species in an area that was once clogged with vegetation and beaver dams and was previously at risk for flooding during high water events.
    Through monitoring, invasive plant control, and planting native species, ACE’s members played a critical role in the long term ecological restoration in Washington County’s Virgin and Santa Clara River corridors. Completing this work, in partnership with a local organization, advanced members’ restoration experience, knowledge, and skills through hands-on career-building opportunities. This poster will demonstrate how meaningful partnerships provide youth from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to engage in successful restoration projects and connect invasive plant management in a wilderness setting to an urban landscape.
  • The Cross Watershed Network (XWN) began as a regional network that connected watershed practitioners (practitioners) across watersheds in the Southwest U.S. through information sharing, collective capacity building, and collaboration. Members of the XWN Steering Committee wrote this case study to provide “lessons learned” for others who are setting up and implementing communities of practice and peer- learning networks. The study outlines XWN’s vision and accomplishments, approach to peer-learning and managing the network, and recommendations for future efforts.
  • Richard B Primack et al. 2021

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

  • Authors: Anna A. Shera, Hisham El Waera, Eduardo Gonzáleza,b, Robert Andersona, Annie L. Henrya, Robert Biedrona, PengPeng Yuea

    This report includes a comprehensive and detailed analysis of the vegetation response to a single watershed-scale restoration effort that includes 40 sites along the Dolores River from 2010-2014.

  • Burkardt and Thomas 2022

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

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

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

  • This white paper was written by the Western Collaborative Conservation Network's Public Policy Working Group: Jessica Western and Heather Johnson.

RiversEdge West's

mission is to advance the restoration of riparian lands through collaboration, education, and technical assistance.