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Appendix 1B Adaptive Management


Barclays Official California Code of Regulations Currentness
Title 23. Waters
Division 6. Delta Stewardship Council
Chapter 2. Consistency with Regulatory Policies Contained in the Delta Plan
Article 4. General Provisions
23 CCR Appendix 1B
Appendix 1B Adaptive Management
Adaptive Management
Adaptive management is defined in the Delta Reform Act as “a framework and flexible decision making process for ongoing knowledge acquisition, monitoring, and evaluation leading to continuous improvements in management planning and implementation of a project to achieve specified objectives” (Water Code section 85052). Adaptive management can be applied at a program, plan or project level.
Adaptive management is a strategy that provides for making management decisions under uncertain conditions using the best available science rather than repeatedly delaying action until more information is available. Adaptive management allows for continuous learning resulting in management decisions based on what was learned, rather than adopting a management strategy and implementing it without regard for scientific feedback or monitoring. Adaptive management is an approach to resources management that increases the likelihood of success in obtaining goals in a manner that is both economical and effective because it provides flexibility and feedback to manage natural resources in the face of often considerable uncertainty.
To be effective, governance to support and implement adaptive management in the Delta must be flexible and have the capability to make timely changes to policies and practices in response to what is learned over time (e.g., the Delta Plan adaptive management approach described in Chapter 2). Governance for adaptive management should provide a decision-making structure that fosters communication among scientific experts, independent scientific reviewers, the relevant decision making authorities (e.g., state and federal fisheries agencies on issues related to aquatic ecosystem restoration) and a balanced approach to the involvement of interested stakeholders.
A Three-phase and Nine-step Adaptive Management Framework
The Council will use the three-phase and nine-step adaptive management framework in Figure 1B-1 that is described in detail below. The Council will use this framework to evaluate the usefulness of adaptive management for reviewing proposed covered actions involving ecosystem restoration and water management along with developing, implementing, and updating the Delta Plan (See Chapter 2). Ecosystem restoration and water management covered actions should include an adaptive management plan that considers all nine steps of this framework; however, they need not be rigidly included and implemented in the order described here and should not be used as a means to prevent action, but rather as a tool to enhance decision making. The intent is to build logical and clear information exchange and decision points into management actions that increase options and improve outcomes. In developing an adaptive management plan, the best available science should be used to inform the various steps of the adaptive management process.
Figure 1B-1
A Nine-step Adaptive Management Framework
The shading represents the three broad phases of adaptive management (Plan, Do, and Evaluate and Respond), and the boxes represent the nine steps within the adaptive management framework. The circular arrow represents the general sequence of steps. The additional arrows indicate possible next steps for adapting (for example, revising the selected action based on what has been learned). This framework and the description of each step are largely derived from Stanford and Poole (1996), CALFED Bay-Delta Program (2000), Abal et al. (2005), and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan Independent Science Advisors on Adaptive Management (2009).
The Plan phase of the adaptive management framework is presented as four steps.
1. Define/Redefine the Problem
The first step of effective adaptive management is to clearly define the problems that will be addressed in the form of a problem statement. The problem statement should clearly link to program goals and to specific objectives, which should be developed by proponents in an open manner. The boundaries of the problem (e.g., its geographic and temporal scales) should be defined in the problem statement.
2. Establish Goals and Objectives
Clear goals and objectives must be established by proponents of proposed covered actions for ecosystem restoration and water management and be based on the best available science (See GP 1 in Chapter 2). Goals are broad statements that propose general solutions. Objectives are more specific than goals, and are often quantitative, specific narrative statements of desired outcomes allowing evaluation of how well the objectives are being achieved.
3. Model Linkages between Objectives and Proposed Action(s)
Models formalize and apply current scientific understanding, develop expectations, assess the likelihood of success, and identify tradeoffs associated with different management actions. Models can be conceptual, statistical, physical, decision support, or simulation. Models link the objectives to the proposed actions and clarify why an intended action is expected to result in meeting its objectives. Models provide a road map for testing hypotheses through statements that describe the expected outcome of an action.
Both qualitative (conceptual) and quantitative models can effectively link objectives and proposed actions by illuminating if and how different actions meet specific objectives. Conceptual models are particularly useful for decision makers, scientists, and the public because they illustrate the most critical cause-and-effect pathways. Conceptual models provide an articulation of the hypotheses being tested and how various actions might achieve particular objectives. Conceptual models also help to develop performance measures, which are qualitative or quantitative information that tracks status and trends toward meeting objectives. Conceptual models should be used in adaptive management planning because they help explain how other types of models, research, and actions will be used to explore hypotheses and address specific existing and anticipated uncertainties.
Recent conceptual models developed specifically for the Delta include comprehensive models developed as part of the Delta Regional Ecosystem Restoration Implementation Plan (DRERIP). The DRERIP models were designed to aid in the identification and evaluation of ecosystem restoration actions in the Delta, and include both ecosystem models (processes, habitats, and stressors) and species life history models. Another set of conceptual models was developed to plan the IEP's Pelagic Organism Decline (POD) investigations and to synthesize the POD results into “stories” about what may have happened to cause the rapid decline of multiple open-water fish species.
4. Select Action(s) (Research, Pilot, or Full-scale) and Develop Performance Measures
The process for selecting an action or several actions to meet objectives includes an evaluation of the best available science represented in the conceptual model. This evaluation should guide development of the action. Consideration should be given to the following:
• Level of the action(s) to be taken (research, pilot-scale project, or full-scale project)
• Geographical and temporal scale of the action(s)
• Degree of confidence in the benefits
• Consequences of being wrong
The scale of the action selected should be informed by the certainty of the relevant scientific information, consider the reversibility of the action, and account for the potential cost of delaying larger-scale actions. For example, when the best available science cannot predict the outcome of an action with a reasonable degree of certainty, and irreversible consequences exist for incorrectly predicting the outcomes of an action, further research or a pilot-scale action is likely more appropriate than a full-scale action, unless the cost of delaying a larger-scale action is very high (for example, a species of concern goes extinct or urban water supplies are cut off). In some instances, choosing to take no action could be the best selection (when no foreseen benefit would result from a research, pilot-scale, or full-scale action). Where possible, the action(s) selected should test cause-and-effect relationships in the conceptual model so that the model can be adapted using the information learned from implementing the action(s).
Performance measures derive from goals and objectives, and help to address the status and trends of progress toward achieving the goals and objectives. Performance measures can be placed in three general classes:
• Administrative: performance measures that describe decisions made by policy makers and managers to finalize plans or approve resources (funds, personnel, projects) for implementation of a program or group of related programs
• Output (also known as driver): performance measures that evaluate factors that may be influencing outcomes and include on-the-ground implementation and management actions
• Outcome: performance measures that evaluate ecosystem responses to management actions or natural outputs
The distinction between performance measure types is not rigid. In some cases, an outcome performance measure for one purpose may become an output performance measure for another purpose.
Development of informative performance measures is a challenging task. Performance measures must be designed to capture important trends and to address whether specific actions are producing expected results. Performance measures are selected based on the conceptual model. In addition the monitoring plan should be designed so that the information collected supports performance measure analysis and reporting.
Efforts to develop performance measures in complex and large-scale systems with many ecosystem types like the Delta are commonly multi-year endeavors; however, initial performance measures provide value for initial assessments of progress made in the interim. The process for developing performance measures should address the rationale for each performance measure, metrics, method for analysis, baseline and reference conditions, expected outcomes, timeline for evaluation, and a communication/visualization element. The development of performance measures should be informed by the best available science and involve key stakeholders.
The Do phase of adaptive management includes two steps that occur in parallel.
5. Design and Implement Action(s)
The design and implementation of action(s) include clearly describing specific activities that will occur under the selected action(s) and how they will link to the monitoring plan. Design includes creating a plan for implementing the action(s) and monitoring responses resulting from the action(s). The design of the action(s) should be informed by existing uncertainties, and should be directly linked to meeting the goals and objectives.
6. Design and Implement Monitoring Plan
A well-designed monitoring plan includes a data management plan. A data management plan describes the process for organizing and clearly documenting observations, including how data are collected; the methods, quality assurance, and calculations used; the time and space scales of the variables; and accurate site locations and characteristics. Data management is critical for analyses, syntheses, and evaluations.
A well-designed monitoring plan goes beyond data collection and data management. A monitoring plan often includes targeted research to answer why certain results are observed and others are not. A monitoring plan also includes clear communication of the information gathered and current understanding drawn from this information. A complete monitoring plan includes:
• Compliance monitoring (required by permits)
• Performance monitoring with pre-project monitoring (measuring achievement of targets)
• Mechanistic monitoring with concurrent targeted research (testing the understanding of linkages in the conceptual model)
• System-level monitoring (holistic, integrative and long term)
These types of monitoring can measure and communicate various types of information, including administrative/inputs (such as dollars awarded and spent or projects funded), compliance/outputs (such as tons of gravel added or acres exposed to tidal action), and effectiveness/outcomes (such as actual outcome expected from implementing an action at the local scale, suites of actions at the system-wide scales, and status and trends assessments). The monitoring plan design must include the development of monitoring metrics that can be integrated and summarized to inform decision makers and the public as described in step eight, Communicate Current Understanding.
Monitoring plan design requires making tradeoffs between resources spent on monitoring and resources spent on actions and analyses. To aid in this evaluation of tradeoffs, a rigorous pre-analysis using simulation models can show the information value of different variables that might be monitored. These values assessments can then be used to compare the benefits from monitoring certain variables against the benefit of using resources for other actions.
Implementation of actions and monitoring should be closely coordinated. Before an action is implemented, initial conditions should be clearly documented to the extent practical so that a baseline is established. Baseline data includes characterization of natural variation observed in the examined system over space and time. For many ecological and hydrological variables, an extensive set of baseline data is available because of the efforts of the Interagency Ecological Program and repositories of information such as those available from the U.S. Geological Survey and the California Department of Water Resources. The implementation of action(s) and monitoring should be clearly executed and communicated to the public. Status and trends metrics that compare conditions before and after action implementation are often good assessment and communication tools.
Evaluate and Respond
The Evaluate and respond phase of adaptive management includes three key steps.
7. Analyze, Synthesize, and Evaluate
Analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of the action(s) and monitoring are critical for improving current understanding. Analysis and synthesis should incorporate information on how conditions have changed, expectedly and unexpectedly, as a result of implementing the action(s). Because measurable change might not occur on short timescales, evaluations should also examine whether actions prevented further deteriorating conditions that would have occurred if no actions were taken. The evaluation should examine whether performance measures indicate that one or more of the objectives have been met as a result of the implemented action(s), and if so, why. If an objective is not met, the potential reasons why it was not met should be clearly identified and communicated. Analyses should be cumulative. As each year's data becomes available, analyses should assess whether the probability of the desired outcome has changed and, if so, how this affects decisions about the action. The results of the analysis, synthesis, and evaluation step could be published in technical peer-reviewed papers and reports for the purpose of external review, disclosure, and accessibility where results warrant this level of communication. Scientists and technical experts will be critical for carrying out this step.
8. Communicate Current Understanding
Communication of current understanding gained through analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of implemented action(s) and monitoring is a key step for informing and equipping policy makers, managers, stakeholders, and the public to appropriately respond and adapt. This step spans the Do and the Evaluate and respond phase of adaptive management because the communication of current understanding and related recommendations for change requires both policy and technical expertise. The information communicated should be technically sound, well synthesized, and translated into formats conducive to informing a nontechnical audience (e.g., a report card format or a general science outlet such as a newsletter). The information should then be disseminated to those directly involved in the adaptive management process for the plan, program, or project and to those interested in the outcome of the action.
Technical staff and decision makers should be regularly involved in the exchange of information as data are analyzed and synthesized. Communication should be ongoing and occur at appropriate intervals at which an improved understanding could help refine other steps of the adaptive management framework.
The key to successful communication is a skilled and dedicated interdisciplinary person or team who understands the technical information learned, the functional needs of the decision makers, and how to best transmit this information. Communication should utilize various media (e.g., web-based materials, social media, outreach opportunities, public forums, etc.) and strive to meet the goals of transparency and clarity.
9. Adapt
Proponents of covered actions for ecosystem restoration and water management should be engaged and prepared to adapt to changes in current understanding and changes in current conditions (e.g., environmental or socio-economic). Informed and equipped with new results and understanding, decision makers should reexamine the other steps of the adaptive management framework and revise these steps where current understanding suggests doing so. Possible next steps could include redefining the problem statement, amending goals and objectives, altering the conceptual model, or selecting an alternative action for design and implementation. Also, decisions to adapt might be needed at various time intervals for the same adaptive management experiment. For example, decisions might need to be made daily (e.g., Delta water operations), yearly (e.g., implementation of landscape-scale restoration), or decadal (adaptive management of landscape-scaled restoration design).
Knowing when to adapt is not always obvious. Adaptive management actions should have a planned time frame that includes when to adapt (based on understandings of the system and its uncertainties), and that time frame should be abandoned only if the results show that the action is doing more harm than good or the anticipated benefit is not noted within a reasonable timeframe beyond what was expected. In general, one year's results, however anomalous, are seldom enough to demonstrate that the action should be subject to adaptive measures. Furthermore, when the analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of information learned from implementing an action indicates that no benefit results from the undertaken action, resources should no longer be spent on that action no matter how popular the action might be.
Decisions made within the adaptive management process for ecosystem restoration and water management actions should be made by decision makers for the entity responsible for implementing adaptive management. Adaptive management decisions relevant to revising and updating the Delta Plan will be made by the Council.
1. New appendix filed 8-7-2013; operative 9-1-2013 pursuant to Government Code section 11343.4(b)(3) (Register 2013, No. 32).
This database is current through 6/24/22 Register 2022, No. 25
23 CCR Appendix 1B, 23 CA ADC Appendix 1B
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