Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

Adaptive Management: Intersection of Science and Governance in Western Water

Date and Time
Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 9 a.m. to Friday, October 25 - 10 p.m.
Duke Campus


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The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the Nicholas School of the Environment will host a symposium "Adaptive Management: Intersection of Science and Governance in Western Water," at Duke University October 24-25. A distinguished panel will share their research and experiences as scientists who communicate ongoing research to decision makers, as they work to ensure that watershed management/policy benefits from the most up-to-date science.


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October 24: 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  
The State of the Science on 3 Major Western Rivers
Location: LSRC A158

Managing and restoring large rivers requires an in-depth understanding of complicated systems. Federal agencies involved in adaptively managing such systems are leading the way in developing this understanding. We will host three presentations on the state of the science of several western river systems. Jack Schmidt will present USGS work monitoring and understanding western rivers’ behavior under conditions of sediment deficit (Colorado) and surplus (Rio Grande). Robb Jacobson will present USGS work to document restoration of floodplains, fish, and birds on the Missouri River. Gordon Grant will present work in the Willamette River Basin, Oregon that aims to connect climate change, land use, and dams to the paths of water flowing in the basin and attempts to manage the water.

The talks will be followed by lunchtime roundtable discussions at 12:30 p.m. with each of the presenters. Jacobson (LSRC A148), Schmidt (LSRC A211), Grant (LSRC A109). Lunch will be provided.

October 24: 4:30 to 6:15 p.m.
Experiences with Adaptive Management
Location: LSRC Love Auditorium (B101)

Adaptive management is a method that the federal government is increasingly embracing. To yield positive results, adaptive management requires effective communication between managers and scientists for initial policy and mid-course corrections. This session will consider the following topics:

  • How does scientific work directed at management issues in federal agencies differ from that conducted in universities?
  • How can barriers to effective communication between scientists and managers be overcome?
  • What differences are there in managers’ expectations of scientists regarding the knowledge for initial management decision and the follow-on decisions?
  • What is the proper role of federal science organizations and private-sector contractors in collecting and analyzing data to inform adaptive management?

A reception will follow in the LSRC Hall of Science from 6:15 to 7:15 p.m. 

October 25: 9-10 a.m.
Federal Research Careers for Post-Docs and Graduate Students: A Roundtable Discussion
Location: LSRC A312

Three senior scientists from the USGS and USFS will host an informal discussion on federal research careers in the geosciences. Research-track positions in federal science organizations provide an opportunity for research outside the traditional university environment. These three esteemed scientists will share their perspectives and experiences on opportunities to enter the federal system, prospects for career advancement, and current challenges for federal science organizations. All students interested in getting an insider’s perspective into these agencies are encouraged to attend.