Research Webinar: Tools to Balance Objectives for Restoration and Conservation of Floodplains

Healthy floodplains and wetlands offer numerous co-benefits, including flood resiliency, nutrient storage, and habitat provisioning. However, conserving or restoring floodplains has financial and opportunity costs, and decision-makers can sometimes hold competing objectives for management of riverside lands.

In this talk, we introduce decision-support tools for evaluating the multiple, and sometimes incompatible, objectives of different decision-makers for management of floodplains. These tools, developed with Sea Grant support, aim to balance stakeholder objectives and refine the rankings of restoration projects developed under Vermont’s Functioning Floodplain Initiative. Because phosphorus attenuation is a critical objective amongst most stakeholders to meet clean water goals for Lake Champlain, research on the capacity of connected floodplains to capture flood-borne phosphorus is also described. These tools were designed to support a systems-based management approach that best meets multiple stakeholder objectives to promote consensus decision making and cost-effective implementation of nature-based solutions.

Kristen is a Research Assistant Professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering department. She has more than three decades of academic and professional experience in water resources, bridging the fields of aquatic ecology, fluvial geomorphology, hydrogeology and environmental engineering. Her current research involves the application of advanced computational tools to better understand and model river systems for improved management and sustainability.

Rebecca is a Research Assistant Professor in the Geography and Geosciences Department. She is a fluvial geomorphologist interested in documenting the processes that shape rivers and their floodplains and determine their functioning. Her work is motivated by the need for good science to support a greater reliance on natural infrastructure. She earned her PhD from Utah State University and loves to study, splash in, and float on most rivers.