The Society for Ecological Restoration: Southwest Chapter, which Shawn serves as the New Mexico representative, helped to sponsor the 2018 Cross Watershed Network annual workshop. Shawn was able to attend the workshop for the fourth consecutive year, having hosted last year’s workshop in Safford with the Gila Watershed Partnership, and visiting the workshops in Escalante, Utah in 2014 and Pueblo, Colorado in 2015.
The workshop is an annual event focusing on peer-to-peer interaction between watershed restoration practitioners. This year, the event was hosted by the Save our Bosque Task Force, a non-profit organization based in Socorro, New Mexico. We met at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, home of the Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility. This is where captive-bred endangered Mexican gray wolves are acclimated prior to release in the wild. Unfortunately, while we were at the workshop, the facility was under renovation, and we couldn’t visit the wolf site.
As for the workshop, it was an interesting and inspiring event, where we learned about the numerous projects ongoing to preserve and enhance riparian habitat along the middle Rio Grande. Such local, community-based initiatives seem to benefit greatly from the introduction of ideas and creative thinking when peers from outside of the community visit to learn from the local project and share lessons learned from outside of the area. It’s just a fantastic way to connect, help others, and learn new things.
One of the greatest lessons learned from this event was in regards to adaptive management. It has been a lesson learned many times over, but bears repeating, and sharing: adaptive management is NOT merely a system of trial and error. We owe the natural resource we are working with more than throwing darts in the dark. Adaptive management is a system of evidence-based decision-making that is based on the best available science. We here at Cascade Conservation strive to employ adaptive management practices in our work, for we know that nature is constantly teaching us lessons, and we sincerely want to respect the dynamism of ecological processes, and that for all we do know, there is always so much more to learn.