management if lasting solutions are to be identified and established.
Adaptive management may entail resistance from some stakeholders, management agencies, and elected officials. Stakeholders may be concerned with the ambiguities of the approach or with possible threats to existing structures and values, management agencies may feel that their decisions and judgment are being second-guessed, and legislators may be concerned with the costs of what may appear to be open-ended science programs. The value of adaptive management will ultimately be gauged by its ability to improve decision making by being responsive to environmental and social changes, thereby enhancing environmental and economic benefits. Adaptive management may entail a variety of detailed and useful scientific and learning exercises (e.g., development of alternative ecological and engineering models; scenario investigations by participants) and administrative processes (e.g., meetings of stakeholders). Maintaining a focus on economic and environmental goals and objectives is important to helping coordinate scientific inquiry with management decisions and stakeholder discussions and learning.
The Corps has traditionally constructed its civil works projects based on engineering principles founded upon a deterministic planning framework. Over time, however, the Corps’ mission has shifted from the construction of engineering projects to managing an existing infrastructure and distributing benefits (e.g., stream flows and their associated benefits) among multiple stakeholders. Successful execution of this latter mission will require less reliance upon concepts related to linear, stable systems, and greater reliance upon expertise in ecosystem dynamics and modeling, as well as economics and other social sciences. Over time, the limits of a deterministic planning paradigm have been revealed, as have many unanticipated consequences of Corps projects. The Corps has different degrees of experience in the six elements of adaptive management identified in this chapter, and adaptive management would thus build upon some existing concepts and practices. Yet the Corps has only limited experience in integrating them within a formal adaptive management framework. A Corps of Engineers 2003 draft report prepared in connection with its Upper Mississippi River feasibility study, for example, demonstrates an understanding of adaptive management principles and challenges regarding its implementation (Lubinski and Barko, 2003). As the following chapter explains, constraints remain on the Corps’ ability to implement adaptive management. Some of these constraints come from Corps planning guidance and organizational traditions, others from factors beyond the Corps, such as the influence of stakeholder groups and guidance from the administration and the Congress.