As one of the first tasks for her Fenske project, Lisa Peterson assisted John Dettmers (her GLFC mentor) and Dale Burkett with a facilitated discussion on aquatic connectivity held at this year’s AFS conference in Minneapolis-St. Paul. At this day and a half meeting they encouraged a diverse set of participants to come and listen to short presentations focused on one aspect of this topic. These aspects included threatened and endangered species, aquatic invasive species, pathogens, contaminants, and fish passage. Short presentations on funding opportunities for aquatic connectivity projects and a basic model for decision support were given as well. Following each presentation, participants were invited to discuss and provide feedback on some of the knowledge gaps, data needs, and decision support tools they identified for this aspect. At the end of the second day, we also had a brainstorming session where participants were asked to think of other topics that may have been missed and the knowledge gaps and data needs associated with those. This was a great opportunity for Lisa to interact with other agency folks and stakeholders, as well as get experience on synthesizing different thoughts and ideas. Lisa also put together an exit survey for participants to fill out as an opportunity both to provide feedback to the facilitators on the process and to include any more ideas they had after the meeting was concluded. The next step is to digest the results from the AFS discussion and present outcomes and thoughts for moving forward to the Council of Lake Committees, which she will be doing at their meeting in October, soliciting further feedback from agency members on the most important next steps.
The end goal of Lisa’s project is to formulate a structured decision making tool to help agencies deal with new proposals for dam removal and modification; hearing all the different views and opinions at this AFS meeting has really highlighted for her the importance of a comprehensive and well-thought-out approach to making decisions pertaining to barrier projects. This is by no means a simple issue, but a tool for organizing all of the objectives and uncertainties will make it more approachable.