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A snapshot of stakeholder science needs related to drought in the Colorado River Basin

August 27, 2021

Stakeholder science needs were determined by reviewing more than 200 recently published literature items and web pages from Colorado River Basin (CRB) stakeholders. These stakeholder communications were used to characterize over 400 stakeholder science needs by reviewing their priorities, strategies, issues, missions, and concerns related to drought in the CRB. Members of the CRB Integrated Science Pilot Project team identified each of the stakeholder?s science needs and categorized the needs based on science themes and science topics that the needs address in the landscape. The terms used as science topics were initially created by Pilot Project team members but then later were cross-walked to match terms in the USGS Thesaurus (USGS, 2021) to establish a common ontology. Each stakeholder science need also was classified based on the actions necessary to address the need, including potential for additional monitoring, analysis, and prediction methods as well as identifying alternative information delivery strategies that could be used to better characterize and communicate conditions in the Basin. The systematic selection process to determine stakeholders and their science needs was done to reduce bias in the engagement process. By identifying stakeholders with varying levels of interest and influence and outlining their science needs based on publicly available information, the Pilot Project employed a balanced approach for understanding stakeholder needs. Data analyses were completed to evaluate integrated science needs using visual and statistical analytical methods such as word clouds and network analyses. These analyses helped to begin the process of prioritizing stakeholder science needs by identifying common science themes and topics that are shared by different stakeholders. The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) was the stakeholder listed most frequently, appearing in 243 entries, followed by Multiple types (65 entries), Department of Agriculture (51 entries), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) (49 entries), State agencies (natural resources; 45 entries), and Native American Tribes (35 entries). Science topics were assessed to determine which topics were listed most often. Each entry listed an average of 6 unique science topics and 82 unique science topics were identified in total. Almost all science topics were listed in multiple stakeholder entries. Documented DOI science needs included 73 of the 82 unique science topics identified. Streamflow, land-use change, and hazards were the most frequently listed science needs, each appearing in nearly 80 entries. This high degree of overlap points to an underlying connected structure that would benefit from an integrated science research program that can bring to light interactions among processes and potential unknown linkages. Finally, recognizing the high amount of overlap among science needs helps identify shared needs among stakeholders, enables USGS to focus outreach toward groups of stakeholders with shared needs and minimizes the potential that management decisions for one resource will have unintended consequences on another resource.

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