The USU Restoration Consortium is a new and emerging center intended to promote restoration-related activities and train students to assist the recovery of stream, wetland, or lake ecosystems that have been degraded. The mission of the Restoration Consortium is to facilitate restoration-related research, publicize accomplishments of restoration-related efforts at USU, and offer courses, professional workshops, hands-on trainings and degree programs that prepare students for careers in aquatic ecosystem restoration. These offerings are targeted to working environmental management professionals, active stream, wetland and watershed restoration practitioners, as well as matriculated USU undergraduate and graduate students.
Both WATS undergraduate majors in the department are expected to benefit from interactions with the Restoration Consortium as it provides context for restoration-related research and educational offerings, hosts restoration-related literature and analytical tools, and connects students with internships, projects and job opportunities. We recently had our bachelor of science program curriculum aligned with the Society of Ecological Restoration’s (SER) curriculum to become a Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner In-Training (CERP-IT), in conjunction with the Conservation and Restoration Ecology major in the Wildland Studies Department. Aligning our programs with SER ensures our student are taught to professional standards for those who are designing, implementing, overseeing, and monitoring restoration projects throughout the world. After three years of work experience, our CERP-IT certified graduates can apply to become a Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner (CERP).
We also offer a Post-baccalaureate Certificate in Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration. This certificate allows matriculated graduate students at USU to add a professional certificate to their postgraduate academic studies. The certificate program provides training for graduate students wishing to gain depth in techniques and principles for restoration of riverine habitats and environments, and provides a background and training in these techniques and principles for professional practitioners and managers working in the field of ecosystem restoration and management.
USU’s Restoration Consortium focuses on understanding and restoring natural processes as a mechanism for restoration of rivers, lakes, wetlands and watersheds. This approach addresses the underlying causes of restoration, rather than temporarily removing symptoms. Researchers at USU predict, model, measure, and explain patterns and processes that are instrumental to restoration success. Professors and students work together to answer fundamental research questions such as: at what spatial and temporal scales should restoration be implemented? How should restoration projects be prioritized? What monitoring and metrics should be used to evaluate success? How do drought and water management affect restoration in Utah? The USU Restoration Consortium also connects research within USU and to applied projects throughout Utah. Professors and students routinely collaborate with restoration practitioners and natural resource agencies to apply restoration approaches developed at USU or developing monitoring tools. These real-world applications are vital to gain a deeper understanding of restoration ecology, produce data and findings that feed back into research, and provide the challenge and excitement of working on real-world problems.
Management and Restoration of Aquatic Ecosystems students also benefit from the partnership between the Restoration Consortium and USU’s Water Quality Extension Program, which focuses on identification and mitigation of nonpoint source pollution. The Water Quality Extension Program helps people understand the link between their everyday activities and land uses and the quality of our water, outreach, website, and citizen science. Research within extension has involved innovative approaches to water quality monitoring at a local and watershed scale and seeks to dive deeper into some of the unanswered questions about water quality practices within Utah.
Finally, the USU Restoration Consortium offers popular courses for working professionals such as the Low-Tech Process-Based Restoration of Riverscapes workshop series, short courses in Sediment Transport in Stream Assessment and Design, and semester long courses in Wetland Ecology & Management, and Restoration of Wetland and Riparian Plants. Additional courses are likely to be developed in the future.
Government Agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO's)
Our close partnership with many government agencies and NGO's underpin the necessity for crosswalk between research, training, and practical problems and their solutions on public land that affect critical natural systems.