These proceedings contain the abstracts, manuscripts, and posters of presentations given at the Fourth Interagency Conference on Research in the Watersheds-Observing, Studying, and Managing for Change, held at the Westmark Hotel in Fairbanks, Alaska, September 26-30, 2011. The conference was jointly hosted by the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service.
Watersheds face resource impacts driven by accelerated change related to land use, population, and climate. About every three years a conference is held to bring together watershed researchers, observers, and managers to share scientific advances and management strategies. This year, the Fourth ICRW took a wider perspective on watershed science and examined some pressing issues of watershed science and management in our largest and perhaps most vulnerable state, Alaska. The purpose of the conference was to better understand the processes driving change and help managers incorporate societal needs and scientific uncertainty in the management of natural resources.
The conference echoed similar themes to the last, highlighting the challenges of managing watersheds based on available science when considerably uncertainty remains regarding the hypothesized relationships between observed environmental changes and their ultimate effects. For example, while the scientific case for anthropogenic climate change has been well presented, confirming possible cause and effect relationships between climatic change and physical and ecological impacts in highly variable, natural systems continues to represent a scientific challenge. This goal becomes even more difficult when superimposed upon a long history of natural resource and land management practices that have fundamentally changed the physical, chemical and biological processes important in maintaining naturally functioning ecosystems. Designing and implementing studies to better understand watersheds and clearly communicating the findings to decision-makers will be the primary challenge for natural resource scientists and managers into the foreseeable future.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Observing, studying, and managing for change-Proceedings of the Fourth Interagency Conference on Research in the Watersheds