Environmental Management

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 353–367

Adaptive Management of Flows in the Lower Roanoke River, North Carolina, USA

  • Sam H. Pearsall
  • Brian J. McCrodden
  • Philip A. Townsend


The lower Roanoke River in North Carolina, USA, has been regulated by a series of dams since the 1950s. This river and its floodplain have been identified by The Nature Conservancy, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the State of North Carolina as critical resources for the conservation of bottomland hardwoods and other riparian and in-stream biota and communities. Upstream dams are causing extended floods in the growing season for bottomland hardwood forests, threatening their survival. A coalition of stakeholders including public agencies and private organizations is cooperating with the dam managers to establish an active adaptive management program to reduce the negative impacts of flow regulation, especially extended growing season inundation, on these conservation targets. We introduce the lower Roanoke River, describe the regulatory context for negotiating towards an active adaptive management program, present our conservation objective for bottomland hardwoods, and describe investigations in which we successfully employed a series of models to develop testable management hypotheses. We propose adaptive management strategies that we believe will enable the bottomland hardwoods to regenerate and support their associated biota and that are reasonable, flexible, and economically sustainable.


Altered hydrological regime In-stream flows Regulated river Active adaptive management Growing season inundation Floods Bottomland hardwood forests Regeneration 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sam H. Pearsall
    • 1
  • Brian J. McCrodden
    • 2
  • Philip A. Townsend
    • 3
  1. 1.Director of Science and Roanoke River Project DirectorThe Nature Conservancy, North Carolina ChapterDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Vice President, HydroLogics, Inc.RaleighUSA
  3. 3.Associate Professor, Center for Environmental SciencesAppalachian LaboratoryUniversity of MarylandFrostburgUSA

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