Geomorphic and ecological fundamentals for river and stream restoration

Sagehen Creek Field Station near Lake Tahoe, California • 15-19 August 2011

Why take this course?

River restoration has become big business in the US, with well over $17b spent on over 40 thousand projects since 1990.

Despite strong public support and the magnitude of the investment, the field has not advanced as quickly as one might expect, because learning through post-project evaluation is rare, and insights from current research are often not effectively incorporated in planning and design.

River restoration can be more effective when it is designed with an understanding of processes and the larger context, when it benefits from systematic learning from previous built projects, and when it is based on predictive connections between objectives and actions.

 This shortcourse emphasizes sustainable river restoration through:

    * Understanding geomorphic and ecological processes in rivers.
    * Watershed-scale and longer-time scale context.
    * Incorporating insights from recent research in fluvial geomorphology and ecology.
    * Developing predictive connections between objectives and actions.
    * Analyses of effectiveness of built restoration projects.
    * Strategies to restore (where possible) physical and ecological processes in rivers.
    * Setting goals in the context of a continuum from urban-to-wilderness settings.
    * Developing restoration strategies and innovative management approaches based on understanding of underlying causes of channel or ecosystem change, rather than prescriptive approaches.
    * Knowing when to intervene and when the river can heal itself without meddling.

Who should take this course?

The course is ideal for anyone responsible for managing and restoring rivers and streams, including those who have previously taken shortcourses in the field, as this course offers insights and approaches unlike those typically taken in many restoration projects today.

Practitioners and agency staff responsible for reviewing restoration proposals will benefit from the high caliber of instruction and direct link to current research. This course is a good choice for those seeking an understanding of process-based river restoration in contrast to the form-based projects commonly implemented. And this course is unique in offering the opportunity to learn from such an extensive and growing data set of post-project appraisals of restoration projects, and to learn how to conduct effective post-project monitoring.

The number of participants is limited to 28 to provide opportunities for one-on-one instruction.
The course balances lecture with field observation and discussion.

This course consists of organized lectures, backed by lecture notes, a reference text on measurement and analysis methods in fluvial geomorphology, spreadsheets, and other relevant reading, field trips, exercises, and discussions.

The course includes several field trips to rivers and streams in the Lake Tahoe Basin, the nearby Sierra Nevada range, and Truckee River with their spectacular mountain scenery, diverse fluvial environments, and range of human impacts (and their often very visible consequences). The course includes workshops on geomorphic river restoration problems faced by participants, who briefly present the problem for discussion by instructors and colleagues in a workshop format, for discussion and ideas on analytical approaches and resources.

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