Doug Barnum – Presentation 2

Salton Sea: Scientific triage for restoring a saline lake

Doug Barnum, USGS, La Quinta, CA, Kent Nelson, Dept. of Water Resources, Sacramento, CA, and H.L. Case III, USGS, La Quinta

Degradation of the Salton Sea, California’s largest lake, has been the subject of scientific interest for over 40 years. In particular, the deaths of thousands of migratory birds in the late 1990’s brought about a renewed interest and launched the modern era of integrated scientific investigations. These studies were intended to lay the framework for a comprehensive solution to the myriad of problems at the Salton Sea. A Research Needs workshop held in 1996, involving over 100 scientists and engineers, yielded a document recommending scientific strategies for investigating biological and physical environments, cultural resources, pathogens and diseases of wildlife, and contaminants. This document and a USGS Tiger Team report in 1999 set the stage for establishing a dedicated Science Office to provide management liaison to the scientific community, oversight of science investigations, coordination of peer review, and information synthesis. Under the auspices of the independent Science Office, expert working groups used these reports to address each topic, developed issues for investigation, and then ranked them in order of importance. A larger advisory committee of scientists and managers then provided a higher-level prioritization. Management acted on these recommendations to provide funding and support for science.

Studies stemming from the initial science needs recommendations provided options for addressing seemingly competing objectives, and provided methods for resolving and mitigating long-standing systemic degradation of the Salton Sea. Importantly, science in planning for this ecosystem restoration was integrated and interactive – adaptive. An adaptive management approach restoration planning provided a central role for science in monitoring progress toward goals, redirecting action based on results of studies , and refining the plans. This talk will explore the role of adaptive science interaction with management in evaluating and developing options for the Salton Sea with particular emphasis on selenium, hydrogen sulfide, thermoclines, and fugitive dust.

Dr. Barnum has degrees from the University of Missouri (1973), Washington State University (1975) and a Ph.D. from Brigham Young University in wildlife biology and range management (1980). He completed a post-doctoral research assignment with University of California-Davis. Prior to his current assignment with the US Geological Survey, Dr. Barnum worked for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and USGS as a research wildlife biologist principally on (a) wildlife interactions with agricultural drainage water in California’s Central Valley, and (b) livestock/endangered species relationships.Dr. Barnum has been involved in research at the Salton Sea since 1990, and since 2000, has worked as a Wildlife Biologist/Science Coordinator for the USGS Salton Sea Science Office in La Quinta, California. Dr. Barnum has been responsible for scientific oversight and coordination of Salton Sea science issues, has organized and chaired numerous special-topic workshops, published peer reviewed scientific articles, was the principal editor of the 2000 Salton Sea Symposium Proceedings, and was co-organizer of the 2005 Salton Sea Symposium. Dr. Barnum chaired the Science Committee for the State of California’s Salton Sea PEIR, and served on many of the PEIR technical working groups. Additionally Dr. Barnum serves on numerous scientific technical advisory committees as an independent expert.
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