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Appendix C -- Institute for River Ecosystems Background

The Humboldt State University Institute for River Ecosystems was chartered in the fall of 1991. The broad goal of the Institute, a nonprofit organization within the Humboldt State University Foundation, is to further preservation and improve management of river ecosystems. This goal will be met through original research and education, information dissemination, and convening a focused pool of experts to address controversial management issues related to river basins locally, nationally, and internationally. The Institute's Scientific Advisory Committee, a membership of experts from all watershed disciplines, directs research and shapes Institute philosophy and activities.

The Institute will not offer a separate major at Humboldt State University, but will work closely with several university departments (e.g. geology, fisheries, environmental engineering, and watershed management), and scientists at other universities, agencies, and private companies.

Research at the Institute will be interdisciplinary, relying on specialists in each relevant field. Undergraduate and graduate students working on projects sponsored through the Institute will be expected to have, or achieve, an interdisciplinary background in hydrology, soils, statistics, aquatic ecology, fisheries, forest and riparian ecology, and geomorphology. Research areas the Institute could pursue in the immediate future include:

  1. basic life history patterns of anadromous salmonids in specific river basins;
  2. the role of estuaries in anadromous fish life history;
  3. identification and management of critical habitat for threatened riparian and aquatic animal/plant communities;
  4. developing a methodology for evaluating the environmental impacts of dams, including riparian dynamics and scheduling of maintenance flows;
  5. basinwide river management planning, especially strategies for restoring lost aquatic and riparian habitat;
  6. interrelationships between fluvial geomorphology and river ecology.

Education extends beyond the University. The Institute will function as an information center for resource agencies and private citizens concerned with management of their watersheds, rivers, and fish. Workshops, symposia, publications, and collection of existing data for specific watersheds will increase awareness and facilitate the exchange of information.

Experts from the Institute's Scientific Advisory Committee can provide an impartial perspective on controversial management issues. For example, a review and evaluation of statewide gravel mining practices by a panel of experts in channel morphology, riparian dynamics, and gravel mining operations is needed in California. The Institute for River Ecosystems also maintains the River House on the lower Smith River for the use of graduate students and other researchers.


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