[env-trinity] Memo from SAB to TMC, TAMWG and TRRP

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Tue Sep 10 09:08:25 PDT 2013

This is from the Trinity River Restoration Program's Science Advisory Board and will be discussed at today's TAMWG meeting.

September 4, 2013
To: the TMC,
            We are
providing an update on the Phase 1 Review and our recommendation regarding a
Decision Support System for the TRRP, which we understand is a topic for
discussion at the September 18th TMC meeting.  
Phase 1 Review Update
Drafts of all supporting appendices
for the Phase 1 Review have been completed.  Two of the draft appendices (E and F) are currently out for comment with
Program partners.  A draft of the main
report of the Phase 1 Review will be delivered to the TRRP by October 1,
Decision Support
As part of the Phase 1 Review, the
SAB recommends the development of a Decision Support System (DSS).  A DSS is a series of linked physical and
biological models that will allow the Program to 1) predict site and system
response to alternative management actions in relation to ROD and stakeholder
objectives; 2) make such predictions in a timely fashion (ahead of monitoring
results); 3) focus and refine monitoring efforts; and 4) provide a necessary
tool for adaptive management.  Additionally,
it will help to better structure and integrate Program activities and increase
the defensibility of management actions. 
As indicated at the January Science
Symposium, our recommendation for the development of a DSS is firm and is not
contingent upon finalization of the Phase 1 Review.  We have provided substantial guidance for DSS
development within Appendix H (Decision Support System Framework) of the Phase
1 Review and in presentations given by Jim Peterson to the TRRP and TMC
(January, 2013).  Appendix H identifies
key elements that should be considered when developing a DSS for the Trinity
River (e.g., integration with existing work in the Klamath Basin) and suggests
models that are potentially useful to the Program.  The suggested models, however, should not be
treated as strict prescriptions.  Rather,
we suggest that Program personnel consider multiple approaches (models) and,
based on their familiarity with the system and Program objectives, choose those
that best meet their needs.      
We realize that a full DSS as
described in Appendix H could take
considerable time and effort to develop.  However, the Central Valley Project
Improvement Act fisheries program has recently developed a coarse resolution
DSS in less than a year and a related
fine resolution DSS for evaluating habitat restoration actions in the lower
American River was completed in 18 months.  Nonetheless in the short term, the priority
action for the TRRP is implementation of a fish production model to assess management
alternatives, similar to the Program’s early use of SALMOD to inform the Flow
Evaluation Report.  Toward this end,
scoping is needed to specify the requisite input parameters and scales of
information needed to drive the selected fish production model (i.e.,
determining how the other physical and biological models in the DSS framework
will specifically inform the fish production model).  It is also necessary to specify how the DSS
will be integrated with monitoring data, what decisions are to be evaluated (i.e.,
the specific decision alternatives), and whether the selected models can
address those decisions.
Most if not all of the TRRP’s existing
monitoring data would be incorporated into a fish production model, such as
SALMOD or its new version, SSS.  Although
these models use mesohabitats to describe the river, the Program’s current
habitat sampling approach (informally called GRTS) also will work and is more
flexible than the mesohabitat approach.  Even if the Klamath River and Trinity River models are joined in the
future, and the Klamath River is described with mesohabitats, the two models
will still be compatible.  The essential
difference between the mesohabitat and GRTS approaches is the way habitat is
assigned to the reaches.  The fish
production model uses the assigned habitat values, but is not sensitive to how the values are assigned.
The fish production model within
the DSS does not supplant empirical data, such as smolt and habitat abundance,
but in fact relies on such data and is tested and improved by it.  The primary advantage of a DSS is rapid
feedback, where possible outcomes of various management actions — either
proposed or actual —can be compared and thus inform decisions.  Beyond constructed changes in habitat, the observed
site and system responses within the Trinity River are slow, and monitoring
efforts must be supplemented by predictive models as part of a DSS to inform
management actions in a timely manner and to facilitate adaptive management.  A DSS also will integrate Program activities
and provide for defensible decisions regarding workplan development, as
recommended by the Independent Review Panel (FY2013 Science Workplan) and the
SAB (FY2014 Science Workplan).   
In closing, we emphasize that that
there is no scientific reason to delay the development of a DSS, and that
nothing in the final Phase 1 review will change our recommendation for a DSS.  Adaptive management is a guiding principle of
the TRRP and a stated objective of the TRRP stakeholders.  Implementing the TRRP in an adaptive management
framework requires a DSS; therefore developing a DSS should be the highest
priority for TRRP in the upcoming year.
The Scientific Advisory Board    
Tom Stokely
Water Policy Analyst/Media Contact
California Water Impact Network
V/FAX 530-926-9727
Cell 530-524-0315
tstokely at att.net
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