2014 Earth Stewardship Initiative Demonstration Project: sustaining and enhancing Earth’s life-support systems

The American River Parkway at the nexus of ecological science and design

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99th Annual Meeting
The Ecological Society of America

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, July 28, 2014
Contact: Alison Mize 703-625-3628;

“Cities that Work for People and Ecosystems” is the theme for a full week of demonstration projects in the Sacramento’s American River Parkway from August 10−15 during the Ecological Society of America’s annual meeting. The 23-mile long Parkway faces multiple competing demands for water, flood control, habitat and recreation.

Blending ecological research and applied ecological understanding with landscape management can inform the design and management of the Parkway for long-term adaptive management.  A host of ecologists working with local urban planners, flood system managers and landscape architects will combine scientific experiments with landscape design. Field site installations along the American River and displays in the Sacramento Convention Center will compliment a robust schedule of special sessions and workshops during the week.

The 119-mile long American River headwaters begin in California’s High Sierra Nevada mountain range. The river plays an important role in the area’s history as gold was first discovered on along its banks in 1848, which ignited the Gold Rush. The almost 500,000 residents that call Sacramento home consider the American River Parkway the crown jewel of their city. Recreational opportunities abound along its 23-mile stretch of forests, beaches, bike paths and hiking trails.

The demonstration project is part of the Ecological Society of America’s Earth Stewardship Initiative, which seeks to provide the scientific basis for actively shaping trajectories of social-ecological change to enhance ecosystem resilience and human well-being. Human activities affect Earth’s life support systems so profoundly as to threaten many of the ecological services that are essential to society. Society has a window of opportunity in the next few decades to redefine our relationship with the planet to reduce risks of dangerous global changes. Ecologists are seeking to address this challenge with a new science agenda that integrates people with the rest of nature to chart a sustainable relationship between society and the biosphere.

“What better way to illustrate how the science of ecology can be put to use than with a demonstration project woven into ESAs annual meeting?” said ESA President Jill Baron.  “Many of our ecologists embrace the idea of using their knowledge for the public good; the American River Parkway provides a great example of ecologists working with practitioners to promote more sustainable urban ecosystems.”

Ecological Society of America’s 99th Annual Meeting, August 10-15th, 2014, in Sacramento, Cal.

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2014 Earth Stewardship Initiative Schedule

Many sessions, field trips and demonstration projects will delve into the benefits of ecological science and its applications that are useful for urban design, planning and adaptive management.

Field Trip 10:  Urban Bioblitz Along The American River Corridor
Sunday, August 10, 2014: 8:30 AM-3:00 PM, J Street Entrance, Sacramento Convention Center

The American River Parkway within Sacramento is the site for this field trip’s urban bioblitz. ESA organizers will be joined by US Fish and Wildlife Service wildlife biologists and volunteers from the American River Parkway Foundation to help conduct an the bioblitz. Participants will collect and identify the biodiversity along the corridor in teams that will focus on plant diversity, birds, insects and macro aquatic invertebrates.  A reference collection from the bioblitz will be given to the local community.

Organizer: Gillian Bowser
Co-organizers: Harold Balbach and Luben Dimov

Field Trip 14:  Ecological Planning and Design Along the American River Parkway
Monday, August 11, 2014: 8:00 AM-1:00 PM, J Street Entrance, Sacramento Convention Center

This field trip is designed as an exploration of the American River Parkway employing ecological principles into the design landscapes to perform ecosystem services.

Organizer: Alexander J. Felson
Co-organizer: Neal M. Williams

Special Session 8:  From Studying To Shaping: A Design Charette Bridging Site Analysis To Conceptual Design
Monday, August 11, 2014: 10:15 AM-11:30 AM, Camellia, Sheraton Hotel

Using the American River Parkway as a case study, this session provides an educational opportunity for ecologists to develop collaborative activities that build ecological resilience and sustainability principles into urban planning and landscape architecture.

Organizer: Alexander J. Felson
Co-organizer: Jill Baron

Special Session 7:  Engaging with Business and Industry to Advance Earth Stewardship – Business and Biodiversity
Monday, August 11, 2014: 10:15 AM-11:30 AM, 204, Sacramento Convention Center

This session builds on ESA’s Earth Stewardship initiative to explore solutions that will help redefine our relationship with the planet and reduce the risks of degrading Earth’s life-support systems. It is the latest in a series of conversations, workshops, and demonstration projects from universities, agencies, land managers, religious communities and businesses.

Organizer: Jill Baron
Co-organizers: Scott L. Collins, David W. Inouye, Teresa Mourad, Clifford Duke and Katherine McCarter

Symposia 14:  Green Cities: Ecology and Design in Urban Landscapes
Wednesday, August 13, 2014: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM, Gardenia, Sheraton Hotel

Over 50% of all humans now live in cities with increasing demands on sustainable water and food systems, waste infrastructure, social networks and human health. This symposium will explicitly feature examples of the synthesis of ecology and design in urban landscapes.

Organizer: Sharon K. Collinge
Co-organizers: Ari E. Novy and Alexander J. Felson

Workshop 38:  From Studying to Shaping Land: A Workshop Bridging Ecology with Design Performance Objectives
Wednesday, August 13, 2014: 8:00 PM-10:00 PM, 104, Sacramento Convention Center

Using the case study of the American River Parkway, this workshop will explore ways of extending the scope and rigor of a leading international program, the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s Landscape Performance Series, to monitor and evaluate landscape solutions using environmental, economic and social outcomes as proposed design alternatives.

Organizer: Alexander J. Felson
Co-organizers: Timothy Carter and  Emilie K. Stander

SYMP 24:  Ecological Design and Planning for Ecologists: Applying Earth Stewardship
Friday, August 15, 2014: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM, Magnolia, Sheraton Hotel

Ecology is undergoing a transformation from a field historically disengaged from the human- built environment to one that can provide insight into the understanding, design, and management of urbanized land. This symposium will present ecological design and ecosystem-based management strategies for large-scale green infrastructure and engineering projects.

Organizer: Alexander J. Felson

Journalists and public information officers can gain access to full texts of all ESA publications by contacting the public affairs office. Email Liza Lester,

The Ecological Society of America is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge. ESA is committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 10,000 member Society publishes five journals, convenes an annual scientific conference, and broadly shares ecological information through policy and media outreach and education initiatives. Visit the ESA website at

To subscribe to ESA press releases, contact Liza Lester at

1990 M Street, NW | Suite 700 | Washington, DC 20036 | phone 202-833-8773 | fax 202-833-8775 | email


My class of 15 students and I participated in a field trip to the American River Parkway in Sacramento last weekend. From Friday morning at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery, to our afternoon at the Water Forum, to our day long exploration of the parkway through canoe and trail, we had a fantastic experience. It could not have happened without the continued support of the stakeholders on the project.  The stakeholders gave feedback on the students’ projects, which was invaluable, and the students have moved forward with a renewed energy and creativity having been able to interact with the parkway and the community who so actively support its future.


Ali and I went to Sacramento on a little road trip a few weekends ago. The parents were eager to meet this roomie I had been talking about and Ali and I were excited for my mom’s cooking and homemade ice cream.

We went for an adventure to the river by my house and we waded and wrote and got to chat on the phone with Kylie. So all around peachy weekend.

Fresh Cut Flowers – September 5, 2015

Fresh Cut Flowers – September 5, 2015

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Top Speed: 84 miles per hour, before dawn, on some dreadfully uninteresting stretch of I-80 between Fairfield and Sacramento

Fail: After my run I went to a favorite tacqueria in Midtown Sacramento, aptly named, Midtown Tacqueria. I ordered a ginormous burrito, cut it in half, intending to save the second half for later. I ate the whole thing. Fail. But, I ended up being full all day long and…

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