Rivers in the United States and throughout the world are in trouble. They are diverted, dammed, channelized, rip rapped, invaded and contaminated. In the United States alone the USEPA considers that more than 1/3 of the rivers and streams are impaired (EPA Publ. 841-R-02-001, Washington, DC, 2000). Some of the world’s largest rivers now only trickle to the sea (Colorado, Yellow River, etc.). Dams have changed natural flow regimes and blocked the passage of anadromous fishes to such an extent that entire populations are threatened. Over the last couple of decades, river restoration has grown an important endeavor to overcome the long-term deleterious effects of human manipulation of rivers. In the United States, more than $1 billion a year has been spent (on average) to restore stream morphology and ecosystem function. In Montana alone, many millions of dollars are being spent annually to restore and rehabilitate rivers. Over $80 million is committed to re-naturalization of mining impacted streams in western Montana and state and federal land management and fishery projects are spending over $2 million on stream improvement annually. Yet the long term return on investment in these efforts remains poorly assessed (Science, v308, p636, 29 April, 2005).
Within this context, the main goal of the CRSSR is to inform the broad community of river scientists, managers and restoration practitioners in innovative and sound methodologies to improve river management and restoration skill. The CRSSR acts as an umbrella for a range of academic departments and units within the Montana University System, State and Federal Agencies, Non-profit Organizations and Businesses. The overall objective is to focus this wide range of expertise to help solve the myriad problems limiting the success of river management and restoration under rapidly changing local and global conditions form local to global scales. Specific objectives are to: (1) Bring to bear the most innovative science, research and creativity to address issues related to maintenance and restoration of river function, multiple use, and environmental soundness within the landscape; and (2) Develop creative methodologies and economically sound solutions to restore physically, geochemically and biologically impaired river systems.