BackgroundIn the Kenai River watershed, salmon are the lifeblood of the community. They are engrained into our lifestyle, culture, and livelihood. Big changes may happen in the Kenai that could impact salmon. The Kenai River watershed was designated as a southcentral test case for a larger Alaska EPSCoR program, a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project to study how communities are adapting to change throughout the state. For the past five years researchers from the University of Alaska have been collecting biological, physical and social data in order to assess how the Kenai River watershed may change in the future. As the final step to integrate all of this information, researchers in the southcentral test case undertook a project to develop alternative scenarios of how the Kenai River watershed may change in the future. The primary goals were to better understand 1) the integrative nature of changes that might occur on the Kenai and 2) provide a mechanism to incorporate future considerations into the current decision-making processes, given the range of environments that may exist in the future.
The scenario process is a scientific process that utilizes massive amounts of bio-physical and social data. However, the most important form of data comes from community stakeholder participation and input. The local knowledge obtained from community stakeholders is imperative to creating successful scenarios.
To begin the incorporation of local knowledge from the community, researchers conducted interviews with natural resource managers and city officials who are the most involved in the day-to-day activities that impact salmon. Through these interviews, the researchers conducted a Social Network Analysis (SNA) that identified key natural resource managers involved in the decision-making processes that affect salmon. Those key stakeholders teamed up with EPSCoR scientists for the remainder of the scenario development process, providing key information that led to the development of five plausible scenarios of change in the Kenai.
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Find contact information for the Scenario Team here.