to conduct the monitoring and research within an adaptive management framework to evaluate the integrated contribution of ESH, SWH, mitigation lands, cottonwood regeneration, and flow modifications towards meeting the Biological Opinion Reasonable and Prudent Alternatives (RPA) and recovering listed species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. This chapter focuses on the prominent ESH and SWH projects, but it is important to recognize that the ESH and SWH programs are implemented within the larger Missouri River Recovery Program and that they have important ecological and institutional linkages with these other MRRP programs.
This chapter addresses Question 7 in this report’s statement of task, which asks, “Are current Corps’ management strategies, restoration tools (e.g., channel widening, creation of chutes, shallow water habitat, etc.), and other activities adequate and comprehensive enough to address issues associated with sediment and nutrients in the system? If not, how might such strategies and activities be improved?”
The 2000/03 Biological Opinion specifies the use of an adaptive management strategy to implement, evaluate, and adjust mitigation projects for endangered species. The topic also is frequently referenced in related initiatives and guidance documents for the MRRIC and the MRRP. This chapter thus begins with discussion of the concept and practice of adaptive management.
In its 2000 Biological Opinion, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service directed the Corps of Engineers to implement adaptive management to promote flexibility of management actions in response to new information and changing environmental conditions to benefit the listed species:
The Corps should embrace an adaptive management process that allows efficient modification/implementation of management actions in response to new information and to changing environmental conditions to benefit the species …
This approach embraces the uncertainties of ecosystem responses and attempts to structure management actions to best address those uncertainties, recognizing that learning is a critical outcome. Adaptive management is viewed as a continuous process of actions based on testing, evaluating, informing, and improving … It will be the basis from which the Service can identify and evaluate performance (USFWS, 2000).
Adaptive management therefore has an overarching importance and role in Corps of Engineers Missouri River programs for endangered species and related sediment management actions and programs.