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PRRSUM Conference to Highlight Stream Restoration

January 24, 2012Patrick NunnallyProgram & AnnouncementsComments Off on PRRSUM Conference to Highlight Stream Restoration

“River restoration.”  Sounds like a wonderful thing, right?  Images of sludgy streams brought back to their former limpid beauty, teeming with fish and settings for an afternoon with a good book.

Well maybe somewhere, and it is certainly true that hundreds, if not thousands, of organizations are working hard at river restoration projects across the globe.  But rivers are extraordinarily complex systems, and river restoration is a complicated subject, fraught with a whole host of inherent tensions.

For example, “restoration” seems to imply “bringing back to a former status or condition.”  Restoration of terrestrial ecological systems in the United States often is framed as restoring to “pre contact” conditions, as if North America were a verdant Eden before Europeans came, a virginal wilderness untouched by contaminating humans.  This is silly of course; indigenous people in the millions were on the continent, altering the natural systems in order to make lives for themselves.  Yet all that “Edenic wilderness” stuff has permeated American “environmental thought” for generations.

OK, so if “restoration” doesn’t mean “back to nature,” then what does (or can) it mean?  One great place to start learning about this is the upcoming Upper Midwest Stream Restoration Symposium, to be held in Minneapolis March 4-7.  There will be sessions on a broad variety of topics in the natural sciences, social sciences and the policy realm.  Poster sessions will complement presentations and nationally-recognized speakers will provide keynote addresses that frame the conference’s broadest issues.  To learn more and register, see the conference web site.  Poster proposals are still being accepted.

The Symposium is organized by the Partnership for River Restoration and Science in the Upper Midwest (PRRSUM).  PRRSUM brings together researchers from diverse academic disciplines along with practioners in public agencies and consulting firms to share knowledge that moves the endeavor of stream restoration forward for the benefit of all.  PRRSUM is a joint venture of the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, a University of Minnesota facility located on Hennepin Island in the Mississippi River, near downtown Minneapolis, and the National Center for Earth-Surface Dynamics, a National Science Foundation-sponsored Science and Technology Center.

For more information, registration, and to propose a poster, see the PRRSUM web site or contact Barbara Burkholder, conference coordinator.

You really ought to go to this:  maybe your research, planning expertise, or communication strategy will be the key link that takes the complexity of “river restoration” and brings it into the main stream!

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