Nathan Darnall

Nathan Darnall
Is “adaptive resource management” the best tool for the job?

Adaptive resource management (ARM) is a structured, informed, iterative process of making decisions in the face of uncertainty. Not every decision will benefit from adaptive management; however, Adaptive Resource Management is appropriate for management decisions where management objective(s) can be stated explicitly, decisions are confounded by uncertainty, monitoring is used to inform decision making, and where management actions can be adjusted in response to what has been learned. One of the primary aims of ARM is to reduce uncertainty over time through continued learning (e.g., science and monitoring). Although science and monitoring play a key role in adaptive management, they are a means to an end, namely good management, and not an end in themselves.

By using ARM, management and regulatory agencies, landowners and stakeholders can make informed decisions that ultimately improve through time. A few examples of ARM include the management of water behind impoundments at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge to optimize habitat for various guilds of birds, and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources management of the brine shrimp harvest to maintain a sustainable harvest of cysts that provides economic benefit to the State and protects the ecological integrity of the lake ecosystem. Adaptive Resource Management is a tool that can potentially be used for many (but not all) decisions at the Great Salt Lake.

Nathan L. Darnall is the Migratory Bird Coordinator for the Utah Field Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Nathan received his undergraduate degree in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State University and his Masters in Public Administration from the University of Utah. Currently, he is the species lead in Utah for the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher and the yellow-billed cuckoo, a candidate for listing. He also provides NEPA comments and mitigation strategies for migratory birds statewide on a variety of impact issues, including renewable energy development, mining, and transportation projects. In his personal life, Nathan has served as the president of Great Salt Lake Audubon and served as the chairman of the Linking Communities Initiative, an effort to link communities in Utah with those in Saskatchewan and Nayarit (Mexico).
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