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|Letter from SER Executive Director Bethanie Walder|
Volume 30 Issue 6 | December 2016
The snow is falling and small ice floes are forming on the rivers around Missoula, Montana thanks to several days of wintry sub-zero weather. I find fresh winter snow to be hopeful, and it’s with some hope that I try to look past the US elections and the potential ecological (and other) consequences. As an SER member, I know you care about the environment. And we all know that at this critical juncture for climate, the possibility of the US backing out of the Paris Agreement and increasing extractive and degrading activities is alarming to say the least. But as members of the Society we can focus on the fact that ecological restoration will continue to be a critical tool for restoring and repairing degraded ecosystems. It is not a tool for justifying further degradation and I can only assume that many of our US members will be working hard to prevent further degradation and to make sure the US does its part to engage in reducing the impacts and severity of climate change. And though I wish that US elections only impacted the US, the potential ecological impacts are, unfortunately, global. As an international organization, with many regional chapters, SER is well positioned to think globally and act locally. We will continue to engage with the many international bodies with whom we already work, including the release of the new International Standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration.
The heavy-metal laden sediments came from the copper mines of Butte, Montana, and traveled downstream nearly 200 km until they were blocked by the Milltown Dam. The ongoing deposition of sediments eventually earned this stretch of river, and the 540 acre reservoir behind the dam, the dubious distinction of being part of the country’s largest Superfund complex (the Superfund was created by the US government in 1980 to clean up extremely toxic sites).
Dam removal is exciting, and it is one of several types of river restoration discussed in this issue of SERNews. The first article, by Pascale Biron, focuses on creating “freedom space for rivers” (FSR) to allow them to flow, flood and function in a more natural way. Pascale discusses this new approach and how it is being implemented in part or in full in several different countries. The second article, by George Heritage, reviews a similar approach to restoring natural river function, specifically looking at new approaches being implemented in the United Kingdom. Ann Riley wrote the third article, introducing her new book, Restoring Neighborhood Streams. Ann’s book is part of the SER/Island Press Restoration Book Series, and we’re delighted that we could include this introduction to her book in SERNews. She specifically talks about decades of research and data collection that points to river restoration methods that work in more urban settings. And the theme closes with an article from Joanna Eyquem about dam removal – covering everything from very small dam removal projects to some of the largest endeavors. I also want to extend a huge thank you to Joanna, for organizing and coordinating the river restoration articles in this issue of SERNews.