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Nov 17 / USGS Newsroom

Invasive Species, Climate Change, Drought —Challenges for Resource Management in the Colorado River Basin

Invasive species, long-term drought, and climate change are a few of the new management challenges facing policy makers for conservation and restoration efforts in the Colorado River Basin. Scientists and resource managers will gather to explore these complex and compelling issues Nov. 18–20 in Scottsdale, Arizona. Approximately 300 scientists, managers, and stakeholders will gather to exchange information about research and management activities at the symposium, Coming Together: Coordination of Science and Restoration Activities for the Colorado River Ecosystem. 

Following is a list of plenary presentations and their titles that may be of interest to reporters. Listed events are free to members of the news media who present their credentials at the registration desk.

For a complete agenda and list of speakers, see

All presentations will take place at the Doubletree Paradise Valley Resort, 5401 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, Arizona.


8:15 – 8:45 AM – U.S. Department of the Interior Management Efforts:

Comments on Colorado River Management efforts from the U.S. Department of the Interior, Kameran Onley, Acting Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, DOI Assistant Secretary Onley will discuss the significant challenges presented by diverse social, cultural, and ecological demands within the Colorado River Basin. She will talk about the complex endangered species recovery efforts, invasive species management, natural and cultural resource stewardship, and the continued need for water and power development. After more than 100 years of DOI management of the River Basin, today’s Adaptive Management process helps find a balance for the restoration and conservation of the Colorado River Basin.

11:00 – 11:30 AM – Climate Change:

Effects of Interannual Variability and Climate Change on the Colorado River, Brad Udall, Director, Western Water Assessment, NOAA, Boulder, CO A major question hangs over the States that depend on the Colorado River: is the present drought one of those that are known to occur once or twice in a century in the American Southwest, or is this a new kind of drought, of a more chronic or permanent nature, that we have not seen before?

12:15 – 12:45 AM – Stream Flow Management for Restoration:

Streamflow Management for River Restoration: Lessons from Outside the Colorado River Basin for Moving from Sites to Systems, Christopher Conrad, The Nature Conservancy, Seattle, WA Using examples from a number of efforts from around the United States grappling with restoration issues that extend beyond a single site, Conrad will explore the value of coordinating activities at larger scales.

1:45 – 2:15 PM – Sustainability and River Restoration:

Sustainability and River Restoration in the Colorado River Basin, Kathy Jacobs, Arizona Water Institute, Tucson, AZ A consensus exists among managers that more extreme events, both floods and droughts, are likely to result from climate change. An ability to respond to these anticipated changes will be the hallmark of successful river restoration programs. Jacobs will address the opportunities for identifying and responding to changes more quickly.

3:00 – 3:30 PM – Status of Colorado River Native Fishes:

Current Status of Colorado River Native Fishes, Matthew Andersen, U.S. Geological Survey, Flagstaff, AZ The recovery of native fishes is one of the issues driving restoration efforts in the Colorado River Basin. Multiple agencies are tracking native fishes, particularly the four species federally listed as endangered: humpback chub, bonytail, Colorado pikeminnow, and razorback sucker. This presentation will provide the most current information available on the status of these species, including humpback chub improvements, in the Colorado River Basin.


8:15 – 9:00 AM – Quagga Mussel Spread and Ecological Impacts:

An Overview of the Spread and Ecological Impacts of the Quagga Mussel with Possible Implications of its Recent Discovery in the Colorado River Basin, Thomas F. Nalepa, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Ann Arbor, MI The ecological impacts coincident with the expansion of the quagga mussel—an invasive species that favors deep lakes and reservoirs—in the Great Lakes have been profound, resulting in millions of dollars of damages. Lessons learned in the Great Lakes can help inform understanding of the possible impacts of the mussel on the Colorado River Basin; the mussel was detected in Lake Mead in 2007.

9:00 – 9:45 AM – Flows, Fish, and Conservation in the Green River:

Natural Flows, Invasive Fishes, and Native Fish Conservation in the Green River Downstream of Flaming Gorge Dam, 1962 to Present, Bestgen explores the effects of newly implemented flow changes and drought-induced warming on the fish community of the upper Green River. The effects of warming on fish populations, particularly the expansion of invasive species, in the Green River may provide insights for other Colorado River managers confronting drought-induced warming.Kevin R. Bestgen, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO

4:20 – 4:40 PM Quagga Mussel Monitoring in Lake Mead:

A Standardized Design for Long-Term Quagga Mussel Monitoring in Lake Mead, David Wong, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV On January 6, 2007, the quagga mussel was detected in Lake Mead. This invasive species not only clogs water pipelines, but also will have profound impacts on the Lake Mead natural system. Efforts to track the abundance and distribution of the quagga mussel in Lake Mead will be discussed.


8:00 – 8:30 AM – Economic Values for Park Service Resources:

Economic Values for National Park Service Resources within the Colorado River Watershed, John W. Duffield, University of Montana, Missoula, MT Explore efforts to place a value on recreation and other ecosystem services provided by National Park Service units in the Colorado River watershed.

8:30 – 8:50 AM – Economic Analysis of Environmental Restrictions on the Power System at Glen Canyon Dam:

Ex Post Economic Analysis of the Electrical Power System Impacts of the Environmental Restrictions at Glen Canyon Dam Following the 1996 Record of Decision, Thomas Veselka, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL Operations at Glen Canyon Dam were modified in February 1997 following the 1996 Record of Decision. This presentation looks at the economic impacts of the changes in operations since the restrictions have been in place.

9:10 – 9:40 AM – Role of Science and Native Americans in Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Plan:

Confluence of Values: The Role of Science and Native Americans in the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program, Kurt E. Dongoske, Pueblo of Zuni, Zuni, NM Examining 10 years of Native American involvement in Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program, suggests that the program has failed to effectively integrate Native American perspectives. Solutions to identified barriers are offered.

11:30 AM – NOON – Collaboration in the Colorado River Basin:

The Promise and Peril of Collaboration in the Colorado River Basin, Kirk Emerson, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ Multiple collaborative resource initiatives are active in the Colorado River Basin. The value of such collaborations will be discussed, including questions about effectiveness and suggestions for improving the power and performance of adaptive management in the future.

The Colorado River Basin Science and Resource Management Symposium, is presented in partnership by: Bureau of Reclamation, Colorado River Fish and Wildlife Council, Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program, Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program, National Park Service, San Juan River Basin Recovery Implementation Program, Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Water Education Foundation

[Via USGS]

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