Lessons Learned from 9 Years Managing a $31M Project with 10 Landowners, 5 Funders, & 11 Regulators

Year: 2022
Presenter/s: Chris Collins
Symposium Session: 2022 - 10 Complex, High-Risk, Climate-Resilient Floodplain Restoration
Topics covered: climate change, community involvement, fish-salmon, floodplain, instream structure (culvert/bridge/dam), lessons learned, and risk and resilience


The dire prospects for many imperiled salmonid runs combined with the increasing need for climate resilient infrastructure necessitates increasing the scale and magnitude of floodplain restoration; however, these larger, more impactful projects inherently have greater social and technical risks and complexities. They also require long-term financial commitments that typically are not compatible with standard grant cycles. These risks, complexities, and funding requirements necessitate a different approach than is used for more typical habitat enhancement projects. The Steigerwald Reconnection Project successfully navigated those challenges and offers a case study that may benefit similarly complex, high-risk efforts in the future. The purpose of this presentation is to provide a brief overview of the $30M Steigerwald Reconnection Project, which spanned nine years and nearly 1,000 acres of Columbia River floodplain. The project also involved nine landowners and eleven regulatory agencies. We present keys to the project’s success during each phase of the project along with lessons learned. We end the presentation with a framework for successfully developing large-scale projects in the future.