Publications

Reaching Watershed Scale Through Cooperation and Integration

"Reaching Watershed Scale Through Cooperation and Integration" summarizes the Aspen-Nicholas Water Forum discussions of May-June 2018. The forum explored how integration could address the mismatch between what has traditionally been local solutions for local water issues and emerging water challenges that impact large geographic regions, multiple sectors, and different community functions. Integration is intended to synergistically combine efforts and resources to create benefits that could not have been individually achieved. The forum explored the opportunities and challenges to integration within and between water sectors, identifying common elements for success.

Issues on the Horizon at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is an independent agency regulating the interstate transport of energy. As innovations and changing consumer preferences reshape the energy industry, FERC must grapple with key issues. This policy brief summarizes pending issues before FERC, including grid resilience, market reforms that would affect newer technologies and non-emitting resources, and transmission and gas pipeline infrastructure build. How FERC decides on these issues would impact consumer costs, determine which resources would receive revenues from FERC-regulated markets, help shape infrastructure investments, and affect the costs of decarbonization policies.

Cross-Discipline Evidence Principles for Sustainability Policy

Social and environmental systems are linked and, as this relationship becomes ever more apparent, governments, communities and organizations are increasingly faced with, and focused on, problems that are complex, wicked and transgress traditional disciplinary boundaries. This article in the journal Nature Sustainability suggests that evidence-based approaches to solve these complex multi-disciplinary challenges must draw on knowledge from the environment, development, and health domains. To address barriers to the consideration of evidence across domains, this paper develops an approach to evidence assessment that is broader and less hierarchical than the standards often applied within disciplines.

Beyond Financing: A Guide to Green Bank Design in the Southeast

Green banks use funds to reduce the risk for private investment to support energy efficiency and clean energy. As local governments and corporations across the Southeast make progress on ambitious clean energy goals—including some with 100 percent renewable energy targets by as early as 2025—demand is growing for financing to make those goals attainable. This primer outlines the design elements of a green bank and explores how a green bank might leverage public funds in the Southeast to create a robust market for clean energy investment.

Addressing Declining Appropriations for Bureau of Reclamation Infrastructure: Policies Needed for Enabling Private Finance

Western water infrastructure was funded in the early and mid‐20th Century with federal financing through the Bureau of Reclamation. Over the last 30 years, federal financing has been less forthcoming, which has been commensurate with an increase in the need for financing rehabilitation and replacement of western irrigation infrastructure. This article in the Journal of the American Water Resources Association suggests that if the Office of Management and Budget changed its policies for private partnerships or loan guarantees, private capital could play an important role in recapitalizing aging Reclamation infrastructure.

Building Ecosystem Services Conceptual Models

Funders and developers of infrastructure projects and businesses and managers overseeing critical natural resources are becoming increasingly aware of and interested in ecosystem services. Quick, simple, transparent, and low-cost ways for incorporating these services into decisions are just now under development. One tool that can support widespread implementation is ecosystem services conceptual models. This report facilitates development and use of such models in federal decision making by presenting a “how-to” guide and illustrative examples. It is part of the Conceptual Model Series produced by the National Ecosystem Services Partnership.

Ecosystem Services Conceptual Model Application: Bureau of Land Management Solar Energy Development

This report presents an ecosystem services conceptual model that captures the potential ecological and human well-being outcomes of the installation and operation of solar energy facilities on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. An accompanying evidence library provides a summary of the currently available evidence for each relationship in the model and an assessment of the strength of that evidence. The model could improve and help to streamline the Bureau of Land Management's environmental assessments. The report is part of the Conceptual Model Series produced by the National Ecosystem Services Partnership.

Ecosystem Services Conceptual Model Application: Testing General Model Adaptability

This case study, a companion to Ecosystem Services Conceptual Model Application: NOAA and NERRS Salt Marsh Habitat Restoration summarizes initial efforts to apply a general salt marsh ecosystem services conceptual model to specific sites. This case study discusses efforts to test whether a generalized model can be adapted to specific sites, noting considerations that arise and revisions that should be made to a general model applied to a particular site. This case study is part of the Conceptual Model Series produced by the National Ecosystem Services Partnership.

Ecosystem Services Conceptual Model Application: NOAA and NERRS Salt Marsh Habitat Restoration

This report provides an illustrative ecosystem services conceptual model for salt marsh restoration at National Estuarine Research Reserve sites. The model captures the potential outcomes of a salt marsh habitat restoration. An accompanying evidence library provides a summary of the evidence for each relationship in the model and an assessment of the strength of that evidence. This report is part of the Conceptual Model Series produced by the National Ecosystem Services Partnership.

Leveraging Big Data Towards Functionally-Based, Catchment Scale Restoration Prioritization

To address limitations to stream and wetland restoration projects, there is a critical need for a functionally-based, high-resolution restoration priority system that can be implemented at broad spatial scales to maximize ecological benefits. This article in the journal Environmental Management describes the River Basin Restoration Prioritization tool developed in conjunction with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to incorporate data models into a catchment scale restoration prioritization framework. It is designed specifically as a state-wide screening tool that assesses hydrologic, water quality, and aquatic habitat quality conditions with peak flood flow, nitrogen and phosphorus loading, and aquatic species distribution models. Although the application of the tool in this analysis is for the state of North Carolina, the methodology and model datasets are readily applicable to other states or regions to assess a large volume of data to better inform restoration choices.