River systems carry more than water. Rivers transfer energy, sediment, and dissolved materials; they modify the landscape; and they provide water and nutrients to ecosystems and agriculture. They act as corridors for the migration of fish, facilitate commerce, and attract recreation and development.
Because of the wide range of demands placed on rivers, laws and policies have been developed to limit and allocate how these resources can be used. Effective management of river resources is inherently interdisciplinary, requiring the application of knowledge in both environmental sciences and management. We will examine geology, hydrology, fluvial geomorphology, and aqueous chemistry, as well as environmental economics and benefit-cost analysis with an emphasis on the impacts of society on some natural river processes. Our modes of learning will include seminars, lectures, problem-solving workshops, science and geographic information systems (GIS) labs, project work, and field studies.
We will focus on natural-resource economics and surface-water hydrology, with the emphasis on quantitative problem solving. In addition, students will be introduced to GIS and develop skills in analyzing and displaying spatial data associated with river systems and drainage basins. We will take several daylong field trips to study local river systems in western Washington. An overnight field trip to the Olympic Peninsula will provide an opportunity to gain local knowledge about indigenous culture as well as environmental, economic and cultural consequences of removing the dams on the Elwha River.
economics, environmental studies, hydrology, and political economy
$225 fee for overnight field trip around the Olympic Peninsula.