State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2007OR82B
Title: Beyond Dollars and Acre Feet: Assessing the Social Sustainability of Emerging Environmental Governance Structures and Restoration Efforts on 'Off-Project' Irrigated Lands in the Upper Klamath Basin
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2007
End Date: 2/28/2008
Congressional District: 2nd
Focus Categories: Agriculture, Conservation, Education
Keywords: irrigated agriculture, ecological restoration, environmental governance, social sustainability
Principal Investigators: Gosnell, Hannah; Lach, Denise
Federal Funds: $ 25,616
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 51,261
Abstract: Many water resource conflicts have their roots in problems related to environmental governance - the set of regulatory processes, mechanisms, and organizations through which political actors influence environmental actions and outcomes. The Klamath Basin is one such example. Historically there has been strong resistance to restoration projects initiated by the federal government, but the recent emergence of more decentralized "hybrid" environmental governance structures (including, for example, government funded water "banks," co-management with tribes, and community based natural resource management) and associated restoration projects on the "off-project" irrigated landscapes of the Upper Klamath Basin offer new hope that private landowners can be effectively engaged in ecosystem restoration. How water is used on off-project lands has a critical impact on the viability of endangered shortnose and Lost River sucker populations and plays a major role in the quality of Upper Klamath Lake water, and the quantity of water flowing to other parts of the Basin, both of which have implications for the viability of threatened salmon in the Lower Basin. Water use in the tributaries also has critical bearing on the livelihoods of individual landowners dependent on water supply for irrigation, as well as the physical and spiritual well-being of the communities that inhabit the tributaries, including the Klamath Tribes. The convergence of a number of factors, including demographic change in the Basin, impending adjudication, and increasing pressure from Klamath Project irrigators to share the burden of demand reduction has resulted in a recent increase in landowner engagement in water conservation and ecosystem restoration efforts in the three tributary basins to Upper Klamath Lake (the Wood, Williamson, and Sprague). The proposed project seeks to identify, catalog, and map the various restoration efforts going on in the tributaries, and evaluate the efficacy, viability, and social sustainability of the emerging governance structures on which they depend. Methods include demographic data analysis, GIS mapping, interviews, and focus groups. The impact of this project will be measured by responses at a town hall style meeting where results will be presented and community feedback and evaluation will be documented. The results of the research will be disseminated to federal agencies and NGOs working in the basin, policymakers, and other interested parties. Findings will be incorporated into a larger grant proposal to the National Science Foundation to build on this research.

Progress/Completion Report, PDF

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