The Escalante River Watershed Partnership recognizes the important role of science as a guide to actions aimed at accomplishing its Mission. Toward this purpose, the Partnership has formed a permanent Science Committee. Roles of the Science Committee include:
- Assessing the science needs and opportunities of ERWP programs.
- Identifying important data gaps and finding ways to fill them.
- Advising other ERWP committees on science issues.
- Helping assure the quality and effectiveness of ERWP projects.
Several specific science or research topics within the scope of the Science Committee, referenced in the current version of the Action Plan Framework, include:
- Gaining a more comprehensive understanding of water resources, both ground water and surface water, especially in the face of anticipated greater future droughts.
- Inventorying and assessing characteristics of springs and seeps (i.e. Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems).
- Enhancing habitat connectivity for native coldwater fishes.
- Determining and interpreting geomorphic and climatic influences that affect the invasion and spread of non-native Russian olive trees.
- Understanding causes of decline in coverage or health of forests in the headwaters of the watershed.
A longer-range science/research goal is to hold an Escalante Science Symposium. This would be a gathering of researchers, land managers, and representatives of other pertinent organizations to assess critical science needs, research opportunities, strategies, and questions that would guide the development of the Escalante watershed as a “living laboratory” for basic and applied science.
Such a Symposium would further refine watershed research programs, allowing for a more coherent understanding of landscape dynamics, cyclical changes, and environmental responses to (current and future) ecological processes and disturbances within the Escalante watershed.