National River Restoration Science Synthesis
River Restoration in our Nation: A Scientific Synthesis to Inform Policy, Grassroots Actions, and Future Research
NRRSS Project Description
The National River Restoration Science Synthesis Project aims to provide a
national level synthesis that can be used to inform policy at local, regional,
and national levels. Our method will involve in-depth research at seven or
eight geographic regions in the United States.
The depth of analysis we propose can only be accomplished by harnessing the
collective knowledge of widely respected research scientists with intimate
knowledge of restoration practices and policies in their respective regions.
Equally as important, the project will be designed with American Rivers'
grassroots partners in mind, and the outcome of the analysis will be widely
disseminated and available to policy makers and river restoration groups across
Because streams and rivers are so important economically and ecologically,
restoration of these ecosystems is receiving a lot of attention and enormous
Restoration activities are diverse, ranging from channel engineering, to
hydrologic experimentation, renewal of riparian vegetation, bank stabilization
and habitat improvement.
All levels of government, as well as volunteer groups and non-governmental
organizations, are players. Projects vary in scope from some of the largest
imaginable (e.g., the Everglades), to small reaches of headwater streams.
While some of these efforts are being catalogued on a local or regional scale,
few are analyzed at all, and even fewer are evaluated for ecological success.
Both the development of restoration ecology as a science and the success
ofrestoration projects depend on linking the practice with the science, yet
thousands of stream restoration activities take place annually, only a fraction
of which benefit from the combined insights of practitioners and scientists.
It is tragic, for example, that scores of dams have been removed in
Pennsylvania over the past few years in an aggressive stream restoration
program undertaken by the state, but almost no monitoring data were collected
before or after the removals. Policy makers are making costly decisions about
the types and location of restoration projects with little or no information on
Filling the Gap
Our project is national in scope, and will draw on existing local and regional
restoration databases and projects, but provide the in-depth research and
analysis that scientists, citizens, restoration practitioners and policy makers
Our goal is to analyze the extent, nature, scientific basis and success of
stream river restoration projects, and to present this information in a way
that is useful to scientists, restoration practitioners, and those making
policy decisions on what kinds of projects ought to receive priority for
funding and implementation.
Specifically, we will synthesize the regional data to:
1) Evaluate the state of the practice of stream restoration nationally and
identify successful demonstrations of different types of stream restoration,
highlighting the reasons for their success.
2) Produce a scientific document that examines the links between ecological
theory and stream restoration (such as the roles of refugia, connectivity, and
natural processes), and identifies the unanswered questions meriting further
3) Develop a series of specific recommendations to improve how stream
restoration is carried out and its success evaluated.
4) Disseminate this information broadly and on an on-going basis.
The science team will refine the design criteria for selection of projects, and
develop criteria to assess the quality of the science underlying the
restoration efforts and their outcomes, using a broad range of descriptive data
(e.g., who, what, where, restoration goals, outcome/results, costs, methods)
from a representative sample of restoration projects from various regions
within the U.S.
American Rivers will work with the scientists to develop data sets that
represent issues of greatest concern to policy makers and grass-roots groups.
The science team will synthesize this information and draw general lessons
concerning the links between the practice of restoration and the science of
American Rivers will incorporate the data and analysis into electronic form on
its website, designed in an accessible format to accommodate searches and
linkages with its other research and outreach tools, and ensure that the
project's findings are communicated to restoration practitioners and
policymakers across the country.
American Rivers will also enable managers, river groups, scientists and other
interested parties to add new restoration projects to the database, ensuring
that it will be a growing resource center for restoration practitioners in the
NRRSS Functions and Information
NRRSS Database Schema
(with MS Access 2000 download)
Listing of NRRSS Node Managers and Users
NRRSS Statistics for all Node Areas
Additional Sites related to NRRSS
NRRSS Scope and Participants
The NRRSS Project has a national agenda, but our efforts are more
intense within ten geographic nodes of interest. NRRSS nodes and node
participants are listed below.
Australian NRRSS Node
California NRRSS Node
Lower Chesapeake NRRSS Node
Upper Chesapeake NRRSS Node
Central Great NRRSS Node
Upper Midwest NRRSS Node
- Allan, Gergel
Pacific Northwest NRRSS Node
Southeast NRRSS Node
Southwest NRRSS Node
- Participants: Dahm,
Internode NRRSS Node
The national effort is being coordinated by Margaret Palmer
at the University of Maryland,
at Duke University,
Dave Allan at the University of Michigan, and
Katherine Ransel (Seattle) and Margaret Bowman (D.C.) of American Rivers.
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NRRSS comments, questions:
Emily S. Bernhardt
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