Urban streams can provide amenities to people living in cities, but those benefits are reduced when streams become degraded, potentially even causing harm (disease, toxic compounds, etc.). Governments and institutions invest resources to improve the values and services provided by urban streams; however, the conception, development, and implementation of such projects may not include meaningful involvement of community members and other stakeholders. Consequently, project objectives may be misaligned with community desires and needs, and projects may fail to achieve their goals. In February 2020, the 5(th) Symposium on Urbanization and Stream Ecology, an interdisciplinary meeting held every 3 to 5 y, met in Austin, Texas, USA, to explore new approaches to urban stream projects, including ways to maximize the full range of potential benefits by better integrating community members into project identification and decision making. The symposium included in-depth discussion about 4 nearby field case studies, participation of multidisciplinary urban stream experts from 5 continents, and input from the Austin community. Institutional barriers to community inclusion were identified and analyzed using real-world examples, both from the case studies and from the literature, which clarified disparities in power, equity, and values. Outcomes of the symposium have been aggregated into a vision that challenges the present institutional approach to urban stream management and a set of strategies to systematically address these barriers to improve restoration solutions. Integrating community members and other stakeholders throughout the urban restoration process, and a transparent decision-making process to resolve divergent objectives, can help identify appropriate goals for realizing both the ecological and social benefits of stream restoration.
University of Chicago Press
Scoggins, M., Booth, D. B., Fletcher, T., Fork, M., Gonzalez, A., Hale, R. L., Hawley, R. J., Roy, A. H., Bilger, E. E., Bond, N., Burns, M. J., Hopkins, K. G., Macneale, K. H., Marti, E., McKay, K. S., Neale, M. W., Paul, M. J., Rios-Touma, B., Russell, K. L., Smith, R. F., Wagner, S., & Wenger, S. (2022). Community-powered urban stream restoration: A vision for sustainable and resilient urban ecosystems. Freshwater Science, 1-16. http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/721150