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THE SCIENCE ENTERPRISE WORKSHOP: Supporting and Implementing Collaborative Science: Proceedings Report

Scientists, science-policy experts, and stakeholders gathered for a two-day workshop on November 1-2, 2016 at UC Davis to better understand how collaborative science is being managed, funded, and communicated in several high-profile ecosystems around the country.

The program was designed to identify common themes and differences in the approaches being used in the California Bay-Delta, Chesapeake Bay and Watershed, Coastal Louisiana, Great Lakes, Greater Everglades Ecosystem, and Puget Sound.

This Proceedings Report combines information found in the Science Enterprise Workshop Advance Briefing Paper, including an overview of each system, with abridged transcripts of the presentations, panel discussions, and audience questions and answers. The report is organized according to the workshop agenda and integrates slides and graphics used during the program. The contents of this report, including individual sections, can also be downloaded in pdf format (SEW_Complete Proceedings Day 1 & 2) and videos from the workshop can be viewed online (

The Science Enterprise Workshop was co-hosted by U.S. Geological Survey and the Delta Stewardship Council.


The Science Enterprise Workshop, held on November 1- 2, 2016, at Davis, California, brought together scientists and science-policy experts from across the country to share information about how collaborative science is funded, managed, and communicated in several high-profile and complex ecosystems – the California Bay-Delta, Chesapeake Bay and Watershed, Coastal Louisiana, Great Lakes, Greater Everglades Ecosystem, and Puget Sound.

The workshop was conducted at a critical time for the California Bay-Delta. In the Delta, “every decision becomes unimaginably complex,” because virtually any change intended to improve a public value is perceived to degrade some other value.  The Delta is not unique in this regard. At the Science Enterprise Workshop, participants had the opportunity to hear from a wide-range of experts highlighting how different regions have developed science management mechanisms to support managers who are working on improving long-term health and viability of the nation’s high-profile ecosystems.

Continue reading the Introduction

The Delta management and policy community is looking fora path forward marked by better coordination, collaboration, and innovation – guided by the vision of “One Delta, One Science.” This workshop provides a way for California’s Bay-Delta to identify possible ways to improve science management and funding. Feedback and lessons learned from the workshop were given to the Delta Stewardship Council’s (Council) Delta Plan Interagency Implementation Committee (DPIIC) within two weeks of the workshop. The discussion at the DPIIC meeting in late November 2017, focused on how best to improve funding, management, and communication for science enterprise in the Delta.


The Science Enterprise Workshop was designed to orient participants to how science is being conducted in several high-profile ecosystems and identify common themes and variations in the approaches across key points of comparison. This workshop offers an opportunity to draw lessons from other systems, including a few with more highly-integrated science programs than the California Bay-Delta’s. As a first step, this workshop was designed as a comparative review that may reveal important lessons from other systems, helping managers and policymakers to:

  • Avoid mistakes or “reinventing the wheel” in efforts to better coordinate and integrate science, including integrative approaches to deal with social, biological, chemical, and physical aspects of complexity;
  • Better understand governance and management systems that have been set up in other high-profile systems to jointly manage resources and conduct science;
  • Identify practical means by which science programs manage financial and intellectual resources and ensure the relevance of ongoing lines of research and monitoring;
  • Hear expert’s perspectives on what makes science “legitimate” to stakeholders and the public, and on the limitations of traditional approaches to applied science; and
  • Enhance networking among programs and experts, and contribute to the body of knowledge on natural resource management of major regional systems.


The format for each panel included presentations from experts representing each region organized by common points of comparison or specific topics and concluded with an open question and answer session.

Day 1: Comparison of Science Enterprises – Regional Programs

The workshop started with presentations by science leaders on the structure and organization of the science programs in several major systems: California Bay-Delta, Chesapeake Bay and Watershed, Coastal Louisiana, Great Lakes, Greater Everglades Ecosystem, and Puget Sound. Common points of comparison included:

  • History of regional program development;
  • Major resource management issues;
  • Current science enterprise structure;
  • Funding for science;
  • Important tools for implementing science; and
  • Communications and co-production.

Following presentations from experts representing each system, outcomes from the 2013 Puget Sound Science Enterprise Workshop was presented. Lastly, a panel discussion presented additional data and allowed questions from the audience. Panelists also discussed practical and field-tested examples of how to achieve greater science integration, and how networking among programs and experts can contribute to the body of knowledge on natural resource management of major regional systems.

Day 2: Collaborative Science Management, Governance, and Funding

The second day featured comparative discussions on common challenges and opportunities that often arise in the management of science enterprises. Regional experts were joined by social scientists, legal experts, and economists on panel presentations to discuss decision-making and key topics related to:

  • Science strategies in large programs;
  • Governance and adaptive management;
  • Funding and resource allocation; and
  • Legitimacy, co-production, and communication.



Science refers to information gathered in a rational, systematic, testable, and reproducible manner (Lackey 2009).  Although there is no definition specific to the California Bay-Delta, the 2013 Delta Science Plan encompasses all of the following activities:

  • Research
  • Data collection and monitoring
  • Data management and accessibility
  • Modeling
  • Analysis and synthesis
  • Independent scientific peer review and advice
  • Science communication

More working definitions ...

Science Enterprise is not interchangeable with “science program.” Instead, it refers to the collection of science programs and activities that exist to serve managers and stakeholders in a regional system. The elements of an enterprise range from in-house programs within individual agencies or other organizations to large-scale collaborative science programs funded by governments. Included in this definition is academic research, recognizing that academic researchers often operate independently of management and stakeholder entities. Science enterprises can vary greatly in the degree to which resources are concentrated in collaborative programs and produce publicly-available results. The differences among regional systems can reflect historical factors, depth and persistence of conflict regarding resource issues, governmental guidance and engagement, the range of agencies and interests involved, and other factors.

Science-Policy Interface is the methods by which scientists and policymakers communicate with one another. A science-policy interface (SPI) may be entirely informal, somewhat formal, or highly formalized, depending on the circumstances. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an example of a highly formalized SPI.  Building and maintaining an effective SPI is an important aspect of science program management.

Cooperation, Coordination, Collaboration are often used interchangeably, but with recognizable differences, in order of increasing joint commitment:

  • Cooperation –involves sharing information and sometimes resources while each party pursues its own goals;
  • Coordination –involves sharing information and resources, with the parties pursuing a common interest or objective. The interest or objective, however, is defined independently by each party; and
  • Collaboration –involves sharing information and resources with the parties pursuing a common interest or objective that they jointly define.

Co-production denotes the participation of managers or stakeholders in the design, execution, and interpretation of scientific studies. The term has come into use as the practice of integrating science consumers into the process of science production. Co-production may be implemented as a transparency measure or as a form of actual collaboration (see above).

Useful versus Useable Science distinguishes between the perceptions of scientists who conduct research to answer questions important to resource managers and the perceptions of the managers. While all useable science is useful, the converse is not true. Useable science “directly reflects expressed constituent needs, should be understandable to users, should be available at the times and places it is needed, and should be accessible through the media available to the user community” (Lemos and Morehouse 2005). One purpose of an effective science-policy interface is to increase useable science as a fraction of all science produced within a science enterprise. Of course, management and policy processes sometimes have difficulty assimilating science to make it used.

Enabling Guidance is the combined set of laws, treaties, executive orders, agency policies, regulations, court rulings, and other authorities that provide a framework under which science programs are developed and implemented.

Relevance, credibility, and legitimacy are three features commonly thought to be essential for science to play a role in policy and management decisions (Sarkki et al 2013; Heink et al 2015). Legitimacy is the belief that the scientific process is being applied impartially and without partisan bias or prejudice and can be the most difficult, and important, of the three factors to foster in situations where science is being used to inform contentious resource management decisions. An effective science-policy interface generally acts in part to increase legitimacy (Posner et al 2016).


The workshop started with presentations on the structure and organization of the science programs by science leaders from Coastal Louisiana, Puget Sound, the Chesapeake Bay and watershed, the Greater Everglades, the Great Lakes, and the California Bay-Delta.

Click here to read more about the regional systems participating in the workshop.


Coastal Louisiana is the drainage gateway to the Gulf of Mexico for the Lower Mississippi River Watershed. Southern Louisiana contains approximately 40 percent of the coastal wetlands found in the contiguous 48 states. The coastal system is comprised of the Mississippi Deltaic Plain in the east and the Chenier Plain in the west.

Click here to read more about Coastal Louisiana.


Puget Sound is the second largest estuary in the western United States, and largest by volume. It is a complex system of connected waterways and deep basins, fed by thousands of seasonal rivers and streams from the Olympic and Cascade mountains. Puget Sound is part of a larger marine ecosystem called the Salish Sea, which also includes the Georgia Basin in Canada and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which is the major connection to the Pacific Ocean. Puget Sound generally refers to the marine areas south of the United States-Canada border and east of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Settlement in the area began in 1833, as a fur trading post. Population soon expanded due to hunting, logging, trading, shipbuilding, and seafood industries.

Click here to learn more about the Puget Sound.


The Chesapeake Bay (Bay) is the largest estuary in the United States and connects the Atlantic Ocean with the over 150 major rivers in the surrounding watershed. The Bay is within Virginia and Maryland, while the watershed extends to New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. The extremely productive Bay and surrounding lands encouraged numerous early settlements in the area along with rapid growth in agriculture, industry, and population starting in the 1700s thought the 1800s. After WWII extensive urban development accelerated, along with increased use of fertilizers on agricultural lands, leading to degraded water quality, loss of habitat and over fishing.

Click here to learn more about the Chesapeake Bay and watershed.


The Greater Everglades Ecosystem is a region of tropical wetlands beginning at the headwaters of the Kissimmee River. The Kissimmee drains into Lake Okeechobee, which would historically spill over its southern banks during the wet season and replenish the Everglades with fresh water. The Everglades was once a free-flowing, vast, and shallow river of grass. Watershed alteration began on a small scale in the late 1800s, and reached a peak with the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control Project authorized in 1948. Hundreds of water control structures and thousands of miles of canals and levees were constructed over the ensuing five decades to provide flood protection and water supply. This large civil works project and the millions of residents reliant on the water it supplies have resulted in significant environmental damage.

Click here to learn more about the Greater Everglades ecosystem.


The Great Lakes consist of lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario. Some water enters Lake Superior from the Hudson Bay drainage system. Between 65-85 percent of the precipitation evaporates, while some water drains out of Lake Michigan. The Great Lakes and surrounding lands, once covered by forests, grasslands, and interspersed wetlands, are heavily impacted by urbanization, agriculture, and industry.

Click here to learn more about the Great Lakes.


The California Bay-Delta is where the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers meet as they flow out of the Sierra and Cascade mountains– spreading out into 1,160 square miles of islands, canals, and shallow waterways before flowing into the San Francisco Bay. Before it was diked, drained, and developed, the Delta was a vast wetland complex of low islands, shifting channels, woody debris accumulations, and tule marshes. Today, the Delta is a patchwork of largely agricultural islands separated by deep channels and protected by 1,100 miles of levees. It hosts farms, fisheries, water projects, recreational areas, and neighbors the State capitol of Sacramento. Geographically, it is the largest delta on the Pacific coast.

Click here to learn more about the California Bay-Delta.


  • Presentation by Dr. Joel Baker.
Click here to read more about the 2013 Puget Sound workshop.



Scientists, officials, and policy makers discuss a multitude of topics regarding how science can be organized, coordinated, funded, and communicated to stakeholders.

Click here to read the panel discussions

PANEL (Nov. 1): Regional Programs

  • Dr. Nick Aumen, USGS Regional Science Advisor, Southeast Region (Florida Everglades)
  • Dr. Josh Collins, Chief Scientist, San Francisco Estuary Institute (Bay Delta)
  • Jon Hortness, USGS Coordinator for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (Great Lakes)
  • Dr. Bill Labiosa, USGS Regional Science Coordinator, Northwest Region (Puget Sound)
  • Scott Phillips, USGS, Chesapeake Bay Coordinator (Chesapeake Bay)
  • Dr. Scott Redman, Program Manager, Puget Sound Action Team Partnership (Puget Sound)
  • Dr. Denise Reed, Chief Scientist, Water Institute of the Gulf (Coastal Louisiana)
  • Dr. Ted Sommer, California Department Water Resources Lead Scientist  (Bay Delta)
  • Dr. Tracy Collier, moderator
Click here to read this panel discussion.

PANEL 1 (Nov. 2): Science Strategies in Large Programs

PRESENTATION: International Examples: Effective Science Strategies
  • Presenter: Dr. Clifford Dahm, Lead Scientist, Delta Stewardship Council
  • Dr. Clifford Dahm, Lead Scientist, Delta Science Program
  • Scott Phillips, USGS Chesapeake Coordinator
  • Dr. Steve Brandt, Professor at Oregon State University; member of the Delta Independent Science Board
  • Dr. Denise Reed, Chief Scientist, Water Institute of the Gulf
  • Dr. Steve Lindley, Director, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries
  • Dr. Nick Aumen, USGS Regional Science Advisor, Southeast Region
  • Dr. Jay Lund
Click here to read this presentation and panel discussion.

PANEL 2 (Nov. 2): Governance and Adaptive Management

PRESENTATION: Impact of regulations on science
  • PRESENTER: David Wegner, Water, Energy, and Transportation Committee at U.S. House of Representatives, former Senior Staff
  • Jon Hortness, US Geological Survey, Supervisory Hydrologist
  • Felicia Marcus, Chair, State Water Resources Control Board
  • Jayantha Obeysekera, South Florida Water Management District, Chief Modeler
  • Richard Roos-Collins, Water and Power Law Group
  • Dave Wegner, Water, Energy and Transportation committee at U.S. House of Representatives, former Senior Staff
  • Carl Wilcox, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Policy Advisor to the Director for the Delta
  • Jessica Law (moderator)
Click here to read this presentation and panel discussion.

PANEL 3 (Nov. 2): Funding and Resource Allocation

PRESENTATION: Program development and resource allocation related to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council
  • PRESENTER: Dr. Alyssa Dausman, Science Director for the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council
  • Alyssa Dausman, Science Director, Restore the Gulf
  • Dr. Peter Goodwin, Former Delta Lead Scientist, Director of Center for Ecohydraulics Research, University of Idaho
  • Stephanie Johnson, Senior Staff Officer, National Academy of Sciences
  • Scott Phillips, USGS Chesapeake Coordinator
  • Dr. Denise Reed, Chief Scientist, Water Institute of the Gulf
  • Lisa Wainger, Professor, University of Maryland
  • Dr. Josh Collins, Lead Scientist, San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI)
Click here to read this presentation and panel discussion.

PANEL 4 (Nov. 2): Legitimacy, Co-Production, and Communication

PRESENTATION: Perceptions of science in the San Francisco Bay Area
  • PRESENTER: Dr. Mark Lubell, Director of the Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior, UC Davis
PRESENTATION: Credible Science in a Complex World
  • PRESENTER: Dr. Denise Lach, Director of School of Public Policy, Oregon State University


  • Dr. Nick Aumen, USGS Regional Science Advisor, Southeast Region
  • Dr. Ken Currens, Manager of Conservation Planning; Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission
  • Dr. Denise Lach, Professor and Director of School of Public Policy, Oregon State University
  • Dr. Mark Lubell, Professor and Director, Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior
  • Dr. Jayantha Obeysekera (Obey): Chief Modeler, South Florida Water Management District
  • David Wegner, Former Senior Staff at Water Energy and Transportation Committee, U.S. House of Representatives
Click here to read these presentations and panel discussion.


  • Dr. Clifford Dahm, Lead Scientist, Delta Stewardship Council

Dr. Clifford Dahm then closed the two-day workshop with his thoughts, noting that this event was important because it brought together science and policy makers, which is critical to long-term success. It’s also been an opportunity to learn about six complex, very interesting systems that participants can take away information from to help everyone do science in their own sites, he said.

Click here to continue reading the closing remarks

Key messages were the importance of communication, how modeling underpins strong science and decision making, and that social sciences must be embraced and integrated into the science and complex systems. He also heard that peer review is important to the credibility of science.

Dr. Clifford Dahm

Dr. Dahm recalled how 21 years ago as a program director of the National Science Foundation, they started a program called Water and Watersheds. “We said that there were three elements to be a successful proposal. It had to have the physical sciences, it had to have the biological sciences, and it had to have the social sciences. We got 636 proposals in for a competition that could at best fund 20, which is just to give you an idea of how much pent up desire there was to make that happen. I know we’re still wrestling with how to combine the social sciences, physical sciences, and biological sciences. Progress is being made, and I’m seeing progress being made at meeting like this.”

Dr. Dahm said that he’s been asked several times how things have changed since his first tenure as lead scientist that ended in 2012, and in these last fourteen months? “One of the things I will say is there are clear signs in many of these sites that we’re moving from the endless planning that we’ve been doing towards implementation, learning, decision making, and maybe even adaptive management. I think that’s a clear moving forward.”

Before the workshop, Dr. Dahm visited John Fleck, a science writer for the Albuquerque Journal and now on the faculty at the University of New Mexico.  He has written a book which was recently published called, ‘Water is for Fighting Over and Other Myths about Water in the West.’  “One of the things that he lays out in this book is a promising record of cooperation, and he also feels that often the good things are obscured by the crisis narrative that we hear about water in the western United States,” Dr. Dahm said. “I was chatting with him and was telling him about the workshop, and I said, ‘I’m sorry you can’t be there. You’ve written about most of the folks on the Colorado in your book.’ I asked him, ‘What about the Delta, the California Delta?’ He looked at me and said, ‘Now that’s a tough nut to crack.’”


List of participants and other workshop credits.

Click here to read the the list


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