Management needs assessment for the Copper River Delta, Alaska
This report assesses needs, problems, and perceptions relevant to management of the Copper River Delta (Alaska)-the largest coastal wetland on the Pacific coast of North America. The assessment provides a basis for planning and decisionmaking and a framework for ongoing research, development, and application. It also underscores concerns about human impacts and supports the need for a greater understanding of the interrelations among resources and resource uses, and between resources and
... esources and people. Keywords: Management needs assessment, decisionmaking framework, Copper River Delta (Alaska). The Copper River system, located in south-central Alaska, encompasses the Copper River Delta and the river basin. The 65-mile-wide delta is the largest coastal wetland on the Pacific coast of North America. The history of the Copper River system is marked by dramatic physical, biological, social, and cultural change. It is a story of complex interrelations between people and the environment. The themes of change and people-environment interrelations provide opportunities to study natural and human-caused change and biological and human responses to change. Change is imminent, as the potential for development of Copper River system resources is high. The Copper River Delta Institute was established by the USDA Forest Service in 1989 to improve the understanding, use, and management of the Copper River ecosystem. Establishment of the institute provided the catalyst for development of this needs assessment, developed by the Consortium for the Social Values of Natural Resources. This report assesses needs, problems, and perceptions relevant to management of the Copper River Delta. The assessment provides a basis for planning and decisionmaking and a framework for organizing research, development, and application. The assessment is based on a workshop and a rating form that was used to identify critical needs. The need for baseline information to monitor individual species and the interrelations among species, including humans and other species, was given the greatest priority. Eliminating barriers-whether real or perceived-also emerged as a management priority. In addition, maintaining healthy systems was identified as increasingly important, particularly in regard to fish and wildlife populations. Additional critical needs identified in the rating process include improved understanding of cumulative effects of human activity; better understanding of the interrelations among resource uses and between resources and people; improved processes for managing long-term stewardship and sustainability; and improved processes to address the effects of interspersed ownership-private, State, Native, and Federal. Abstract Summary This assessment underscores concerns about human impacts that may alter the physical and biological components of the Copper River system. It supports the need for a greater understanding of the interrelations among the resources of the Copper River system. Although this management needs assessment was developed for the Copper River Delta Institute, the concerns, issues, and needs identified have significance beyond the Copper River Delta.