2016 Invited Speakers

Meet our 2016 UMSRS Invited Speakers!

Rebecca LaveInvited Talk: Can we save nature by selling it? Results from social and geomorphic analysis of stream mitigation banking
Rebecca Lave, Indiana University

The idea of selling nature in order to save it is at the core of market-based approaches to environmental conservation, which are increasingly common in the US and internationally.  Conservation and water quality credits are for sale in many developed countries, and Payments for Ecosystem Services have become a central tool in international environmental policy circles. This paper traces that shift from “command and control” regulatory systems to market-based environmental management, examining its physical and policy consequences through analysis of the emerging practice of stream mitigation banking.  In the most common form of stream mitigation banking (SMB), a for-profit company buys land with a damaged stream on it and restores it to produce mitigation credits which can then be purchased by permit applicants to comply with Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Entrepreneurial SMB began in 2000, and has since spread rapidly across the U.S.  

What are the consequences of this shift? Has putting a price tag on nature succeeded in protecting it where previous environmental regulation failed?  I answer these questions by drawing on social science data from document analysis and interviews across the US, and natural science data from geomorphic fieldwork in North Carolina, a national stream restoration hotspot. I argue that while economic considerations have not dominated the mitigation policy-making process to the extent one might expect, their influence is clearly visible.

Rebecca Lave is an Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in Geography at Indiana University.  Her research combines social science and fluvial geomorphology to focus on the politics of scientific expertise and market-based environmental management of fluvial systems.  She has published in journals including Science, Social Studies of Science, Ecological Restoration, and the Journal of the American Water Resources Association, and is co-editor of a new book series, Critical Environments: Nature, Science, and Politics.  Her recently published book – Fields and Streams: Stream Restoration, Neoliberalism, and the Future of Environmental Science (U. Georgia Press 2012) – centers on stream restoration and the dispute over Dave Rosgen’s Natural Channel Design approach.  She is currently studying mitigation banking in the U.S. and E.U.

Mike Marek

Invited Talk: Aesthetics for Stream Restoration - Balancing Function with Form
Mike Marek, Marek Landscaping, LLC

Stream restoration projects can provide a multitude of environmental benefits, from water quality and flood control to habitat creation and harboring of biodiversity. Aesthetics are often considered ancillary to these projects and undervalued by design and engineering professionals.  However, it is not overlooked by the general public.  Aesthetics plays a large part in the success of a stream restoration project and positive perception of the work will help to ensure future support. Using scientific design to optimize ecological function helps to ensure a fully restored stream.

We’ll discuss using reference sites, diverse cross sections, varying planting plans, river access, and maintenance considerations to help design our stream restoration projects; balancing function and form.  By considering the way a site is viewed and used by people, we can design it for better ecological health. 

Mike Marek, founder of Marek Landscaping, LLC, a landscape architecture and ecological restoration design/build firm in Milwaukee, WI, has over 20 years of experience working as a landscape ecologist and designer. His projects involve waterfront planning, shoreline and bluff stabilizations, green infrastructure, multi-use trails and parks, and erosion control solutions. His familiarity with Wisconsin’s native plant communities, along with progressive low impact construction methods, offers a unique approach to bioengineering and plant community design and rehabilitation. Mike founded Marek Landscaping in 1996 with a commitment to delivering results that benefit community, environment, and economics in the most challenging settings surrounding the Great Lakes.

Kevin Shafer

Invited Talk: Restoring Milwaukee’s Rivers, an Urban Renaissance
Kevin Shafer, Executive Director, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District

Since 1998, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) has been working to to restore the Greater Milwaukee river system to a more natural condition.  Utilizing its flood management authority, MMSD has applied an environmental lens to improve the rivers by removing concrete liners, installing aquatic habitat, and restoring river meanders all while shrinking the one percent probability floodplain and restoring recreational benefits.  As this work has progressed from Lincoln Creek to the Menomonee and Kinnickinnic Rivers, a rebirth of life along the riverfront has been realized.  Restaurants and businesses are relocating back to the riverfront properties, and kayak companies are now supporting an ever increasing demand for water access.