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Exploring Management Options in the Grand Canyon with Formal Decision Analysis

Michael Runge - US Geological Survey
May 18, 2016 (SDP Webinar Invited Talk, Co-sponsored with the Decision Analysis Society)

The Colorado River ecosystem between Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Mead is important to many stakeholders, including: American Indian Tribes, whose creation stories begin there; citizens of the seven western Colorado River Basin states, who rely on the river for water and electricity; visitors from around the world, who raft, hike, camp, and fish in the extraordinary wilderness; and environmental advocates, who seek to conserve the species and ecosystems of this unique place. In January 2016, the Bureau of Reclamation and the National Park Service published a Draft Environmental Impact Statement concerning the long-term management of water releases from Glen Canyon Dam. In developing this draft EIS, the lead agencies used two formal decision analysis methods, multicriteria decision analysis and the expected value of information, to evaluate seven alternative strategies against the 18 performance metrics and to evaluate the influence of uncertainty. Stakeholder agencies were invited to participate in a swing-weighting exercise to understand their range of perspectives; the results of the swing-weighting exercise were combined with the evaluation of the alternatives to complete a multicriteria decision analysis. Surprisingly, the rankings of the alternatives were not sensitive to the critical uncertainties that were evaluated, but the choice of a preferred alternative was sensitive to the value-based judgment about how to place relative weight on the resource goals. This work provides an example of how to use formal decision analysis methods in the context of an Environmental Impact Statement to integrate value judgments and scientific evidence in the evaluation of natural resource management alternatives. 

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Keywords: framing framestruc, evaluation anamod, project execution projexec, multi-objective multobj, voi voivoc, USGS, EIS, swing weights swingwt, natural resource, consequences table conseqtab, stakeholder, water, environmental, tribes, alternatives generation altgen

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