Socio-Ecological Considerations for River Restoration, Conservation, and Resilience through the lens of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Water Resources Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/10/2020
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Mineral Hall A, Hyatt Regency, Third Floor
Organizers: Denielle Perry, James Major
Chairs: Denielle Perry


Riverscapes, or riverine (river + riparian area) ecosystems, are coupled and complex socio-ecological systems (Dunham et al., 2018) that span various temporal and spatial scales as well as levels of organization (Marshall et al., 2007). Rivers, for example, are large, heterogeneous extents that vary spatio-temporally in their “composition, configuration, and connectivities” (Dunham et al., 2018, p.2). For scientists and decisionmakers to better understand these dynamic socio-ecological systems, attention must be paid to the inter- and intra-scalar network of interactions and feedbacks between the social (human) and ecological (physical and biological) processes and functions and their implications for riverine ecosystem services valued by society. Population dynamics, economics, technology, governance systems, culture, values, ideologies, and attitudes comprise the human dimensions that lead to river modifications (Dunham et al., 2018). For example, as populations grow and global temperatures steadily climb, there is an increasing interest in harnessing river resources for “clean” energy production (UNGCF, 2017; United Nations, 2009), irrigated agriculture and flood control (Perry & Praskievicz, 2017), and municipal uses (Finley, 2016; Weiser, 2016). Such technologically supported uses can lead to increased fragmentation of habitats (Grill et al., 2019), changes in water temperature, degradation of water quality, and exacerbation of species invasions (Darwall et al., 2018) in riverine ecosystems. With such pressures, there are increasing calls to protect biodiversity and other ecosystem services rivers provide (Darwall et al., 2018; Henstra, 2015; Palmer, Filoso, & Fanelli, 2014; Perry, 2017b; Thompson, 2015; United Nations, 2009; Vörösmarty et al., 2010). Such ecosystem services include the provisioning of food and freshwater, livelihoods, recreation, and spirituality.
In this session presenters approach questions of riverine ecosystem restoration, conservation, and resilience through four distinct studies that consider the aforementioned concerns and feedbacks through the integrated National Wild and Scenic Rivers socio-ecological system. One study by Denielle Perry exposes regional perceptions of federal river conservation policy and its benefits to society through survey and interview data. another study by Katie Guetz examines through geospatial analysis, the prioritization of dam sites for removal in the 11 western contiguous states for river restoration and conservation. A third study by James Major models the bio-physical resilience potential of rivers in southwestern ecoregions to identify rivers for focused conservation efforts. A final study of comparative policy and discourse analysis by Sarah Smith investigates layering of protection in the Gila River watershed, the last un-dammed major river system in the southwest United States.

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Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Denielle Perry*, Northern Arizona University, A Regional Comparison of Conservation Policy Perceptions: Assessing Wild & Scenic Rivers from East to West 15 8:00 AM
Presenter Sarah Smith*, Northern Arizona University, The Role of Federal Conservation Policy in Ecosystem Service Protections in New Mexico’s Gila River Watershed 15 8:15 AM
Presenter James Major*, , Using Geospatial Analysis and Statistical Modeling to Identify Resilient Rivers for Wild & Scenic Designation in the Arizona/New Mexico Ecoregion 15 8:30 AM
Presenter Katie Guetz*, , Dam Removal in the West: A Prioritization Analysis for Optimal River Restoration and Conservation 15 8:45 AM

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