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Monday, January 25 • 3:20pm - 3:40pm
Decision-Making Tools and Aquatic Connectivity In The Great Lakes Basin: A 2014 Workshop Sponsored by the Great Lakes Fishery Trust

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AUTHORS: Tammy Newcomb*, Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Mark Coscarelli, Great Lakes Fishery Trust

ABSTRACT: The Great Lakes Fishery Trust (GLFT) sponsored an aquatic connectivity workshop September 4-5, 2014, in Lansing, Michigan. The goal was to identify decision-support tools that resource managers and practitioners need and would use to guide decisions on where to improve fish passage or remove a dam in the Great Lakes basin. Within the Great Lakes basin, researchers conservatively estimate that more than 7,000 dams and 265,000 road-crossings may serve as barriers to migratory fish (Januchowski-Hartley et al 2013). The resource management community has reached general consensus that removing barriers to aquatic organism passage above lowermost barriers is a priority to enhance ecosystem health. This includes dams upstream of the lowermost barrier and almost all road-stream crossings, which rarely serve as an effective barrier to invasive species, but can impede success of native and desirable nonnative species. Given the sheer number of dams and road-stream crossings, the resource management community has identified the need for decision-support tools to prioritize connectivity projects within and among watersheds and deploy scarce resources more strategically. Over 50 workshop participants representing 23 entities—including state (3), federal (3), and tribal (4) agencies; utilities (2); binational coordination organizations (2); universities (4); county road commission (1); and nonprofit organizations (4)—discussed their information needs and process used when developing, evaluating, and implementing aquatic connectivity projects and reviewed existing decision-support tools. This discussion identified research needs and information gaps as well as ways to enhance existing tools to support more effective and efficient decision making. First, resource managers and practitioners discussed their processes and information needs for evaluating aquatic connectivity projects. Second, the workshop featured presentations by researchers regarding currently available support tools and, based on the first part of the workshop, how tools could be developed or modified to meet the needs of the manager and practitioner community.

Monday January 25, 2016 3:20pm - 3:40pm EST