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Title: Retrospective evaluation of Corps aquatic ecosystem restoration projects protocol part 1 : Project overview
Authors: Gardner, Justin S.
Maynard, Erynn E.
Price, David L.
Fischenich, J. Craig, 1962-
Keywords: Ecosystem management
Ecosystem restoration
Environmental management
Environmental restoration
Restoration ecology
Ecosystem Management and Restoration Research Program (U.S.)
Publisher: Engineer Research and Development Center (U.S.)
Series/Report no.: Technical Note (Ecosystem Management and Restoration Research Program (U.S.)) ; no. ERDC TN-EMRRP-ER-20
Abstract: Despite substantial national investments in aquatic ecosystem restoration, there is little or no quantitative monitoring of ecological response, and little or no basis upon which to assess project and program success. Moreover, few national databases have been developed for ecosystem restoration projects. Monitoring and assessment efforts within the US Army Corps of Engineers (“the Corps”) largely reflect this pattern. Better data and information are needed by the Corps and others to ensure that restoration investments maximize environmental benefits to the Nation. This report describes the methods and protocol used to develop and evaluate a database of ecosystem restoration projects completed by the Corps. Specific objectives are to evaluate (1) the benefits realized relative to objectives, and (2) the performance of selected restoration techniques and practices with respect to stated objectives as well as to independent ecological criteria. The authors also wish to identify lessons learned and noteworthy projects or practices that can improve the performance and outcomes of future projects or practices. Results will have applications beyond the Corps to practitioners nationwide. Part 1 of this report summarizes (1) results of a workshop conducted during October 2009 to help formulate and refine the focus and direction of the present study; (2) methods used to develop the database; and (3) questions that ongoing analyses will address in subsequent reports. Part 2 details the database content and development guidelines as well as the protocols used for district review of the database. Several key issues were addressed in the workshop. Key issues include ascertaining what information and knowledge can be gained; determining the critical questions to ask and the evaluation criteria to be used; managing project stratification, practical limitations and constraints, and reviewer qualifications and calibration; identifying which projects to include and which are notable and innovative projects; and factoring in reporting considerations. General methods and detailed guidelines for development of the database have been prepared and are reported in Parts 1 and 2 of this report, respectively. Calibration exercises are being performed to ensure a consistent approach to database entry and interpretation across multiple reviewers. District project managers are being contacted to review data input by ERDC personnel. They are also being asked to provide supplemental information, where appropriate, and to complete an independent assessment of project performance. The authors have identified 260 Corps restoration projects for inclusion in the database, including projects funded under eight different authorities. Documentation has been received on 229 of these, which comprise investments of nearly $809M. Data have been entered for 217 projects so far. A web-based version of the database will be developed during FY2013. The structure of the database allows for a number of analyses. Based on data examined to date, restoration projects completed by the Corps are geographically and ecologically diverse, with just under one-third falling into each of the following size categories: <100 acres, 101-1,000 acres, and 1,001 to 10,000 acres. Fewer than 10% are larger than 10,000 acres. Preliminary analyses are not presented here, but confirm that most Corps restoration projects lack quantitative monitoring by which to evaluate project success. However, for those projects that have been evaluated, most are at least partially successful based on project objectives. Very few projects fail, and most yield some significant environmental benefit. A comprehensive set of analyses will be completed during FY2013, and are described in this document.
Description: Technical Note
Gov't Doc #: ERDC TN-EMRRP-ER-20
Rights: Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited
Appears in Collections:Technical Note

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