Improving Research and Management of Columbia River Fish and Wildlife: Two Decades of Independent Scientific Review

For over two decades, independent science groups have informed the research and management of fish and wildlife in the Columbia River Basin. With presentations and a concluding panel, the symposium will explore the science groups’ origination amidst controversy, basic operations, interface with policy, and recent recommendations to view restoration efforts with a food web and an ecosystem-scale perspective. Consequently, AFS participants will gain understanding of fisheries restoration issues in the Columbia River Basin, hear how multi-disciplinary scientific advice is used to inform policy in the USA’s largest regional recovery effort, and thus consider whether independent science, as an integral part of programs, is beneficial. Speakers will provide broader context by relating the Columbia River Basin examples to comparative cases in other regions.

Independent scientific review for the Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council is implemented by two groups: the Independent Scientific Review Panel (ISRP) and the Independent Scientific Advisory Board (ISAB). Each group provides unique services to the program.

The ISRP was created by Congress and conducts project-specific reviews that inform funding decisions for a program with an annual budget over $200M. In 15 years, the ISRP has reviewed over 2,500 proposals.  The symposium will explore the review outcomes from the perspectives of the reviewer and the policy maker.

The ISAB conducts state of the science reviews that inform program development by the Council, NOAA Fisheries, and the Columbia River Indian Tribes.  ISAB advice is intended to avoid gridlock over scientific uncertainty, circumvent unnecessary additional research, and resolve conflicting opinions on recovery issues. In 15 years, the ISAB has produced over 70 reports covering mainstem fish passage, habitat restoration strategies, hatchery issues, climate change, human development impacts, and non-native species. Recent ISAB reports on food webs and landscape-scale restoration will be highlighted.

Robert J. Naiman and Nancy Huntly
Robert J. Naiman, Nancy Huntly and Erik Merrill
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