Institutionalizing the Adaptive Management of a Large-Scale Ecosystem Restoration Program: Continued Progress in the Lower Columbia River and Estuary

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Chanda Littles , Katie Blauvelt , Anne Creason , Heida Diefenderfer , Gary Johnson , Jason Karnezis , Lynne Krasnow , Phil Trask

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Adaptive management and ecosystem restoration in the lower Columbia River have been ongoing as part of the Columbia Estuary Ecosystem Restoration Program (CEERP) for roughly 20 years. CEERP has supported 77 restoration projects and restored over 14,000 acres of floodplain habitat in the lower Columbia River between 2004 and 2020. The success of the program is due to a continuous feedback loop between science, coordination, and management; with each element playing a more or less prominent role through different time periods. In addition to these basic components, a longstanding commitment to addressing outstanding uncertainties through complimentary research and restoration actions improved program outcomes over time. The institutionalization of CEERP adaptive management benefitted from the ongoing support of an Expert Regional Technical Group, scientists, state and federal agencies, Tribes, and restoration practitioners supporting research, monitoring, and evaluation. This work provides an overview of CEERP’s evolution and highlights key developments under each of the aforementioned CEERP components. As examples, CEERP managers have recognized the need to acknowledge and overcome programmatic and process uncertainties related to effective landowner engagement, evolving agency priorities, and constraints within the project universe to meet long-term restoration goals. We share lessons learned that are applicable to restoration programs elsewhere.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program