Reference reaches and restoration

At the heart of river restoration is the simple assumption that an appropriate “reference” reach or an idealized historical condition can be used to help guide development of restoration strategies, conceptual designs, and eventually implementation plans. Downs et al. 2011, in a recently published article in the journal Environmental Management, argue that multiple analytical references, including baseline field data collection, monitoring, and modeling, to develop an integrated ecological reference condition is a more appropriate, and perhaps more importantly, a more practical way to approach river restoration where a fully historical condition is simply not attainable. The approach is illustrated by examining Stillwater’s work on the Merced River, including how baseline data collection over several years allowed us to develop performance-based restoration designs with suitable performance criteria for post-project evaluation.

Dr. Peter Downs is a Principal Scientist with Stillwater and provides senior-level technical support on Stillwater’s geomorphic projects, while also fulfilling his duties as Associate Professor at the University of Plymouth (UK) in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences. Co-authors of the paper include Stillwater scientistsDr. Maia Singer, Dr. Bruce Orr, and Zooey Diggory.

The article is available online only, and will be published soon. Full citation: Downs et al., Environmental Management, 2011, doi 10.1007/s00267-011-9736-y.

Posted 22 August 2011