The Corps continues to gain experience with the concept and practice of adaptive management, and in some places—such as the Upper Mississippi—the agency’s responsiveness to stakeholder input may be enhancing public trust in the agency. There is much to be learned about how to successfully incorporate the concept, and the Corps should continue to move forward in its collaborative efforts. The agency could, for example, publicize examples where stakeholder-driven adaptive management actions led to beneficial effects that were largely unanticipated, and seek to learn from past experiences throughout the agency. Stakeholder and agency involvement should begin at the start of adaptive management programs and should include stakeholder participation in periodic review of monitoring results and management models. The Corps’ experiences with Shared Vision Modeling, which involves stakeholders in assessing possible outcomes through models of assumptions and key processes, provide similar examples of useful approaches.
Resources and related support from the administration and Congress have been fundamental to establishing adaptive management programs in Florida’s Everglades and in the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam. This type of support from the administration and the Congress has also been essential in promoting ecosystem monitoring and inter-agency collaboration on the Upper Mississippi River. A lack of this type of support for broad, meaningful stakeholder participation may be contributing to decision making gridlock on the Missouri River. The administration and the Congress should ensure that adequate resources are provided to promote sustained, meaningful stakeholder collaboration within adaptive management initiatives. Stakeholder collaboration should be an integral component in the adaptive management of Corps projects and systems (Recommendation 2).
In addition to differences of opinion among stakeholders, the complexities of ecosystems may yield variations in scientific results and differences of scientific opinion. Ecosystem monitoring programs and physical, biological, and economic models do not always yield results that are interpreted the same way by all scientists and other interested parties. Such ambiguities can hinder adaptive management’s cycle of actions, observations, evaluations, learning, and new actions. Moreover,