CSS 573   Decision-Making for Watershed Management University of Idaho - College of Natural Resources
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Course Overview

Welcome to CSS 573!

We hope you find the readings and activities we will be completing over the next weeks in "Decision-making and Planning Processes for Watershed Management" stimulating and rewarding!

The goal of watershed management is to make decisions and take actions that maintain, restore or enhance a particular landscape a landscape that includes aquatic ecosystems -- so that a preferred or desired condition is achieved. From an ecological viewpoint, the desired condition is one that represents a particular set of ecological functions and structures.  From a societal stand-point, it is one whereby management is conducted as effectively and efficiently as possible. Attaining these conditions likely requires some modification of current or planned land-use activities, and choices must be made that are directly related to the values humans have placed on that ecosystem and the organizations managing them. 

A premise of this course is that consideration of both ecological and human values, through a process-oriented approach to watershed analysis and planning, is key to effective decision-making and sound management decisions.

Before you begin this course, please complete the required course survey by pressing the Start Here button above.

 

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Fundamental Issues for Management include:

         Determining who decides what the desirable condition for an ecosystem is, 

         What that desirable condition for an ecosystem should be, 

         How and when that condition is to be attained, and 

         How ecological, economic, social, and cultural impacts will be considered and mitigated, where possible. 

Natural resource managers are confronted with many difficult questions that must be addressed in such a process when a watershed management project is undertaken, such as:

         How does the landscape work? What happened on the watershed before? What are current conditions and trends? What is the resiliency of the landscape to future activities and impacts?
 

         What are the critical issues concerning the landscape?  What are the major concerns, threats, opportunities relating to those issues?
 

         What are the possible and desired future conditions of the landscape?
 

         How should we manage the landscape? What should our management goals, objectives and activities be to achieve these conditions, and how do we select these?
 

         Once we have implemented our management activities, how do we evaluate the effectiveness of our management decisions, and how do we act upon those evaluation results to implement adaptive management in practice?

As humans continually develop an improved understanding of how biological systems function in relation to their environment, we also better understand how human activities are affecting those systems. In the 1990s, environmental core values were broadened to include "sustainable patterns of resource use," reflecting not only that humans are part of that environment, but also that their impacts on the environment are in some cases unsustainable. Maintaining, restoring, and in some cases enhancing ecosystem conditions, especially at a watershed level, involve a complex human system of economic, socio-cultural and political factors that must be considered if ecosystems are to be effectively and successfully maintained, enhanced, or restored.

In doing so, natural resource professionals are challenged to determine whether one condition may be more appropriate than another -- To what extent is a given management approach or alternative ecologically sound, economically viable, and socially and culturally acceptable?  Failure to consider all relevant human, organizational, and political aspects, as well as ecological dimensions, can result in our falling short as managers in attaining the ecological restoration goals we set for ourselves.

 

 

 Getting Started -- An Overview

The minimum technology requirements are fully explained in the "Start Here" section at the top of this page. It leads you through a required survey and a technology test which allows you to make sure the PC you are using can properly access the course web site functions.

Blackboard is the course software the University of Idaho provides for you to submit assignments, engage in threaded discussions, and view your progress in the course. Within the course home page, when you see a link to Blackboard, you can just click on that link to be connected to it. You will be asked for your user-name and password.

In Blackboard, your user-name is your University username and password.

That should be pretty simple. However, since some of you are not regular UI students, you may not be sure what your UI Username is. Not to worry! In a separate email, I will send you your individual UI Username if you need it -- just email me if you need me to do this.

SPEAKING OF EMAIL: It is imperative that you use the UI vandalmail system for emailing me (www.mail.uidaho.edu), and your UI email address; this is required of all students taking UI courses and corresponding on UI "business."  When we first started these online classes, we were looser about this, but it's proven to be a real problem, & I WILL NOT RESPOND to other email addresses.