The Gulf Coast Prairie LCC (GCP LCC) is partnering with the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership (SARP) to ensure that the rich aquatic resources of their region (LA, OK and TX) are protected from impacts of future population growth and climate change. SARP has identified flow alteration as a priority threat and is implementing the Southern Instream Flow Research Agenda1 for the GCP LCC. This report summarizes this work and provides priority instream flow information and research needs to help guide future efforts by the GCP LCC and partners to advance instream flow science in the region.
SARP’s Southern Instream Flow Research Agenda provided the framework for development of the much needed regional water resource information. The products of the Research Agenda form an integrated body of information to support our understanding of how ecological conditions in rivers and streams respond to alterations of the natural flow regime. The GCP LCC river classification, hydrologic foundation, ecological data, flow-ecology relationships, aquatic conservation priority areas and flow alteration assessment are available to help advance instream flow science in the region. For more information about these products and the expert review process SARP used in their development, go to the “Expert Review Process” for each individual resource.2 Several of the products are map based. To view the maps indicated below, go to the “Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership” gallery on either the GCP LCC3 or Southeast Region4 Conservation Planning Atlas. Instructions for how to request the supporting spatial data can be found at these links once users are signed in. Additional reports and other resources are available on the SARP Google Doc.5
The GCP LCC Instream Flow Science Strategy is the culmination of the SARP/GCP LCC partnership to date. Following from the Southern Instream Flow Research Agenda, the Science Strategy now provides the next set of priority research needs in the region. The goal of the GCP LCC Instream Flow Science Strategy is to support scientifically credible instream flow standards and management practices as efficiently as possible.
The Science Strategy was developed at the GCP LCC Instream Flow Resource Workshop that was held in Oklahoma City on October 16-19, 2013. Thirty-three regional aquatic and instream flow experts reviewed the resources SARP developed for the GCP LCC and identified priority research needs. The instream flow research priorities identified at the workshop and technical recommendations from resource developers give the GCP LCC a clear direction forward. A wide variety of needs were identified to improve the instream flow resources. The top priorities were:
In conclusion, the support provided by the GCP LCC to implement the Southern Instream Flow Agenda was invaluable for advancing instream flow science in the region. Resources have been produced that are already facilitating the work of many partners. Communications with and among aquatic experts to produce these resources not only kept the quality high, but helped maintain support for instream flow science in the forefront of many competing demands for time and commitments. The new instream flow research priorities identified here provide a road map for further advancements and the GCP LCC to continue to serve as an important agent of aquatic conservation in the region. The streams and rivers of the Gulf Coast Prairie region can only benefit from continued support of the GCP LCC and partners.
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