A Flourishing Walla Walla Basin: Restoring ecological complexity by encouraging economic resilience and instilling community integration.
McCormick, Ronald*,1, 1 Steward and Associates, Snohomish, WA
ABSTRACT- In 2002 the Walla Walla Watershed Alliance (WWWA) embarked on a journey whose end will come only when the Walla Walla Basin supports a vertically integrated and adaptive community with a tightly bounded and resilient economy. The visionary aspect of the WWWA's strategy lies in their understanding that only strong, local support for the restoration of self-organization in the flow of water from ridgetop to the Columbia River will allow bull trout, steelhead, spring Chinook, and lamprey to redevelop into complex, self-sustaining (and harvestable) populations. 150+ years of re-plumbing in the Basin by humans of European descent has moved what was a complex and dynamically stable ecosystem process from a self-organizing basin of attraction to a complicated, human-designed water delivery system that ill supports fish. By embracing the shifting high gain/low gain system states currently supporting salmonids and humans in the Basin, and embedding systems theory into all aspects of their operations, the WWWA has explicitly acknowledged the importance of hierarchically ordering structures and processes in coming to understand the complexity of cross-scale relationships. Through the Water Transactions Program the WWWA is developing a system to value the rate and timing of water delivery to a specific location. They then can look for legal, cultural, and economically viable alternative to delivering water in time and space such that human intervention in the course of a stream is minimized, and the life stages of fish, birds and other inhabitants of the region are unhindered. I will present how those valuation decisions are made and how their trade impacts are assessed. Removal of complicating human interventions into flowing rivers and creeks by attentive scaling of management actions will serve to restore ecological complexity in ecosystem processes.
Key words: valuation, systems theory, complexity, resilience
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