Abstract: Session H  2:10 pm (Back to Session H)
Age-Old Question: How to Define and Measure Success for River Restoration Projects?

Dani Wise Johnson
Blueline Environmental

A variety of success criteria have been adopted world-wide regarding restoration work. Differing perspectives and goals may lead monitoring of projects in opposite directions. Parameters critical to one audience may be of little concern to another. Collecting the data, deciphering the meaning behind the raw numbers and ratios created to ascertain, at-a-glance, whether or not a restoration attempt is functioning as designed and meeting the needs of the funding source; all of this happens without hard boundaries on what passes the test and what does not. As with any natural system, variability is inherent, and it should be that way. Rivers are dynamic systems and they must be allowed to be so, while still attempting to achieve the goals laid out in the restoration plan. Reviewing success criteria and modifying it periodically based on years of collected and reviewed data should be an aspect of the regulatory process that is expected and implemented.

Evidence-based criteria are available to restoration professionals, as projects in our region have been implemented and monitored for over twenty years. Consistent examination of monitoring requirements and data evaluation should be conducted to maintain reasonable and evidence-based expectations. Case-studies and recommendations are shared among restoration professionals, in an attempt to keep criteria relevant and appropriate.