Despite considerable optimism from restoration project managers, two-thirds of whom felt that their restorations had been "completely successful," the study finds that the process of river restoration is poorly coordinated. Project goals, design, implementation and evaluation are disconnected. Evaluations are uncommon and are rarely reported or used to assess whether goals have been met. The study also finds little coordination between separate projects, something that is essential for successfully addressing watershed degradation.
River restoration is a popular approach to watershed management in the
"Our research findings suggest that the practice of river restoration in the United States is motivated by good intentions, but suffers from disconnected approaches and very little evaluation and feedback. We hope that putting some real numbers behind this problem will encourage more open discussion and a greater commitment by management agencies to examine and improve the ecological outcomes of river restoration," says Emily S. Bernhardt, lead author of the study. Advisory committees and significant community involvement were identified as elements of successful restoration projects. The authors suggest the creation of a national program to monitor and coordinate future projects.