While the US was arguably more active in river restoration in the 1980s, most of the projects now undertaken in the US are still form-based attempts to create idealized features. In many cases, these artificial constructions are not sustained by current, altered river processes. In the EU, by contrast, many projects explicitly aim to restore process, even when this means allowing a ‘messy’ river to develop.
How can we restore true geomorphic and ecological processes in rivers? This question was addressed in the 15th Annual Berkeley River Restoration Symposium (7 December 2019), in keynote talks by Hervé Piégay of CNRS (the French national research agency) and University of Lyon, and Damion Ciotti of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Piégay’s talk, ‘Revitalizing rivers: learning from a few European case studies,’ summarized some of the key lessons learned from recent restoration efforts in the EU. Despite more projects in the US now claiming to be ‘process based’, real restoration of process is rare. How can we distinguish true process-based restoration projects? Damion Ciotti’s talk, ‘Process-based design criteria for ecological restoration’ presented four distinct attributes of true process-based restoration, along with a detailed illustration of the application of these criteria to a restoration project in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.
In addition to these keynote talks, graduate students in the River Restoration course presented their independent research projects, including a comparison of a conventional salmon spawning habitat restoration project heavily dependent on external energy sources (diesel fuel) with the energy exerted on the ‘restored’ reach by a natural flood; an evaluation of a side-channel restoration for salmon on Lagunitas Creek; the Vermont and Washington State programs to set aside river corridors; and post-project appraisals of river restoration projects on the Truckee River, Reno, and Cerrito and Baxter Creeks in the San Francisco Bay region. Panels of experienced practitioners and researchers provided perspective on themes arising in the presentations. Click here to see the papers summarizing the graduate student research projects.
The symposium is presented annually by the UC Berkeley Department of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning, and the Institute of International Studies Interdisciplinary Faculty Seminar Water Management: Past and Future Adaptation.
Keynote Speaker Bios
Hervé Piégay is research director at the National Center of Scientific Research, at the laboratory Environnement, Ville, Societe, based at the Ecole Normale Supérieure of Lyon (France). His Ph.D. (1995) documented interactions between riparian vegetation and channel geomorphology. His research is focused on river management, planning and restoration, contemporary history of rivers and their catchments, analyzing human controls on environmental change, floodplain and former channel sedimentation, sediment transport, and budgeting. His work involves integrated sciences, with a strong emphasis on methodological frameworks and innovative tools using tracking techniques, GIS and remote sensing. He frequently works with practitioners to provide insights for river management, planning, and restoration.
Damion Ciotti is a Restoration Biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Auburn California. He has over 10 years of experience in design and implementation of stream, river, and wetland restoration in the Sierra, Cascades, Great Basin and Appalachia. Major projects include restoration of stream delta systems in the upper Klamath Basin and stream and floodplain reconnections in the Sierra and Cascades. He is interested in testing applications of ecological science and theory to restoration practice. He also coordinates the Tribal Grants Program for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Damion has an MS in Environmental Science from Oregon State University and a BS in Soil Science from Penn State and was a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay.
About the Class
Restoration of Rivers and Streams (Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning 227) is taught by Professor Matt Kondolf. Offered annually since 1992, it is the longest-running course devoted to river restoration at a major research university. This graduate-level course emphasizes understanding of underlying goals and assumptions of restoration, and integration of science into restoration planning and design. Students review restoration plans and evaluate completed projects. In addition to lectures and discussions by the instructor, students, and an extraordinary set of guest lecturers drawn from the active restoration community, the principal course requirement is an independent term project involving original research and a presentation at this Symposium.