A large effort is underway to test the effectiveness of stream restoration in the Pacific Northwest using intensively monitored watersheds (IMWs) to improve salmonid habitat with the expectation to increase salmonid production (Bennett et al. 2016). How, or whether, stream restoration can improve target salmonid populations and ecosystem functions remains equivocal despite the enormous efforts that have been expended
in implementation of projects throughout North America (Bernhardt et al. 2005; Roni et al. 2008). Restoration efforts applied under adaptive management (AM) frameworks will likely be the most efficient way to better understand the effectiveness of stream restoration, promote accountability within the restoration community and document restoration effectiveness that will guide future restoration strategies (Downs and Kondolf 2002; Rieman et al. 2015). Yet, AM remains underutilized or misapplied in restoration (Allen and Gunderson 2011), and we suspect that this stems from a misunderstanding of what AM is and where it is appropriate to apply and/or a perceived difficulty in developing the framework. Our goal in this essay is to clarify the application of AM and to promote its use in IMWs and restoration projects in general. We briefly review what AM is, the different approaches to implementing AM, and the key elements common to AM. We then provide an example of how we are using AM to test the effectiveness of adding large woody debris (LWD) to increase habitat complexity and increase production of steelhead Oncorhynchus mykiss in the Asotin Creek IMW in Washington.
Oncorhynchus mykiss in the Asotin Creek IMW in Washington.