also see Executive Summary >
Several major analytical efforts are underway to support decision-making for salmon restoration in the Columbia Basin. These efforts include NMFS’ Cumulative Risk Initiative (CRI), the Plan for Analysis and Testing Hypotheses (PATH), the Northwest Power Planning Council’s use of the Ecosystem Diagnosis and Treatment protocol(EDT), the US Forest Service’s and Bureau of Land Management’s effort undertaken for the Interior Columbia River Basin Ecosystem Management Plan (ICBEMP-BBN), and the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission’s COHORT model (CRITFC). Within the region, conflict has developed over the role these models should play in the decisionmaking process. Part of this conflict is manifested in the current debate over the need for multiple modeling approaches, such as CRI and EDT, when considerable time and money has already been invested on the PATH models. This debate is exacerbated because the models were developed for different purposes and they take different analytical approaches, use somewhat different data sets, and make different assumptions.Policy-makers (and the public) are faced with important decisions concerning salmon restoration. The conclusions of the various models contribute to the decisionmaking process. However, because the objectives, data, and assumptions vary among the models, it is not surprising that their conclusions differ. Decision-making could be hampered if the region becomes engulfed in a "collision of models," with various interest groups and agencies advocating the conclusions that best support their interests and mandates. Such a debate will undoubtedly occur as an inevitable consequence of the gravity and implications of impending decisions, and the lack of creditable scientific conclusions concerning the probability (feasibility) of outcomes following any particular management intervention. The ISAB undertook this project with the intent of bringing some clarity to the regional debate.
The purpose of the project was two-fold:
- Comparative Synthesis — to clarify the questions or problems that each model was designed to address and to provide an overview of each of the models and a synthesis that describes both consensus conclusions and areas of disagreement among the models. We focused on the main results or conclusions of the models and did not perform an in-depth evaluation of the structures of the models and the quality of data used to calibrate and validate them. Given the complexities of the models and the histories of their development, the latter would be a daunting task.
- Assessment of the Role of Models in the Decision-making Process — to assess how science interfaces with decision-making, specifically relating to the roles models play in the process.