Two approaches to ecological restoration planning, limiting-factors analysis and process-based restoration, are employed in efforts to recover endangered salmonid species throughout the Pacific Northwest of North America. Limiting-factors analysis seeks to identify physical limitations to fish production that may be addressed by habitat restoration; it is known as the “Field of Dreams” hypothesis (i.e.
, if you build it, they will come). Process-based restoration, in contrast, assumes that protection and/or restoration of watershed-scale processes will best achieve self-sustaining habitat features that support salmon populations. Two case studies from the Columbia River basin (northwestern USA) display current efforts to integrate these two restoration approaches to improve salmonid populations. Although these examples both identify site-specific habitat features to construct, they also recognize the importance of supporting key watershed processes to achieve restoration goals. The challenge in advancing the practice of restoration planning is not in simply acknowledging the conceptual benefits of process-based restoration while maintaining a traditional focus on enumerating site-specific conditions and identifying habitat-construction projects, but rather in following process-based guidance during recovery planning and, ultimately, through implementation of on-the-ground actions. We encourage a realignment of the restoration community to truly embrace a process-based, multi-scalar view of the riverine landscape.
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