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Closing the gap on wicked urban stream restoration problems: A framework to integrate science and community values

June 27, 2022

Restoring the health of urban streams has many of the characteristics of a wicked problem. Addressing a wicked problem requires managers, academics, practitioners, and community members to make negotiated tradeoffs and compromises to satisfy the values and perspectives of diverse stakeholders involved in setting restoration project goals and objectives. We conducted a gap analysis on 11 urban stream restoration projects to identify disconnections, underperformance issues, and missing processes in the project structures used to develop restoration project goals and objectives. We examined the gap analysis results to investigate whether managers appropriately identified problem statements and met stated objectives. Projects that aimed to restore overall stream health commonly fell short for various reasons, including limited stakeholder and community input and buy-in, revealing potential limitations in the breadth of objectives, values, and stakeholder perspectives and knowledge types. Projects that emphasized integrating community values and diverse knowledge types tended to meet the expected outcomes of restoring stream processes through incremental solutions. Managers implementing more holistic solutions and values-driven approaches are more likely to consider diverse viewpoints from a variety of community local institutions. Based on these and other results, we propose a conceptual framework that integrates diverse perspectives and knowledge to enhance social and ecological outcomes of urban stream restoration. The framework also emphasizes the importance of setting objectives that support incremental solutions to foster more realistic expectations amongst stakeholders.

Publication Year 2022
Title Closing the gap on wicked urban stream restoration problems: A framework to integrate science and community values
DOI 10.1086/721134
Authors Brian M. Murphy, Kathryn L Russell, Charles C. Stillwell, Robert J. Hawley, Mateo Scoggins, Kristina G. Hopkins, Matthew J. Burns, Kristine T. Taniguchi-Quan, Kate H Macneale, Robert F. Smith
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Freshwater Science
Index ID 70232476
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization South Atlantic Water Science Center