Wrapping up Restoring the West 2014 (#RTW2014)

"We're going to focus on the riparian basics, like well-played football, we're going back to basics, tackling, running, blocking...We're going to talk about the processes that make riparian ecosystems what they are..." (paraphrase)

Beaver dams on the main stem Logan River, UT, USA
And so began my talk at Restoring the West last Wednesday. It was a cathartic moment, and one that was nearly seven months in the making. The conference we'd been planning since March was more than half done, and I was three slides deep on my talk. It was my contribution to the technical sessions, but it wasn't the only task leading up to the moment. We had 235 people from across the American West show up to discuss riparian ecosystems local and global. It was record-setting attendance and some of America and the world's foremost experts on streams and riparia presented their work alongside regional land managers and project planners. I met and hosted two new friends, went for a couple runs with acquaintances new and old, saw lots of friends and colleagues in the larger riparian research and restoration community, and slept very, very little. After getting ten hours of sleep last night, and reflecting for a moment, it was great.

Beaver Creek, UT, USA, 30-minutes from #RTW2014
Highlights:

  • Dave Merritt, Heida Diefenderfer, and Bob Beschta leading off and anchoring the festivities as keynote speakers.
  • Meeting numerous folks whose work I had encountered, or built on in my own research, including Marc Coles-Ritchie, Lindsay Reynolds, Bob Beschta, and many more.
  • Actually meeting Dave Merritt in person after a couple years of phone and email exchanges on riparian guilds and community ecology.
  • Seeing and hearing from Heida Diefenderfer, Mike Scott, John Stella, Malia Volke, and Alex Fremier once again. They're all impressive researchers and individuals who were very generous with their time over the course of the week. Thanks to Pat Shafroth for turning up even though he wasn't presenting.
  • ET-AL putting in some serious work on numerous posters and talks. Big ups to Elijah, Alan, Martha, Nick, Wally and Joe (who gave the pre-RTW webinar).
  • No last-minute cancellations or day-of-show technical difficulties.
  • Running/hiking with Alex, Dave, Nate, Emily, Daniel, and Julian on separate occasions.
  • Christy Meredith from USFS giving a really nice talk on the differences in ways to analyze stream habitat trends using monitoring data.
  • The always personable Kent Sorenson representing UDWR and his Watershed Restoration Initiative-sponsored applied restoration projects.
  • Mary O'Brien talking collaboration and decision-making in watershed management across the Colorado Plateau.
  • ET-AL student lunch with federal scientists on Thursday.
  • Good press from UPR, the Herald Journal, and USU QCNR leading up to the conference.
  • Great attendance for a regional conference and no poorly attended talks throughout the two days.

Dave Merritt and Lindsay Reynolds Tuesday morning talk mash-up
Lowlights:

  • A couple speakers who committed early had to cancel over the summer and their presence was missed. 
  • Apologies that the vegetarian options at lunch were very, very limited.
  • Limited twitter use for the conference made it hard to upsell the work on display beyond the conference venue itself.
  • Shin splints and sleep deprivation.

Wally MacFarlane discusses BRAT

So, after much hard work by USU Forestry Extension's Megan Dettenmaier, Darren McAvoy, and Mike Kuhns and a committee of USU faculty, affiliates, and a student, Restoring the West 2014 is in the books. A big thanks to all of the speakers, poster presenters, attendees and sponsoring organizations. A conference is only as good as those who turn up and deliver talks, posters and participation. I have to reiterate my gratitude to Heida, Dave, and Bob for keynoting the conference and getting us started and finished on high notes.