Dr. Rob Van Kirk's blog

Research, Monitoring, and Science: What’s the difference?

A few blogs ago I discussed the words “collaboration”, “sustainability”, and “planning” in the context of HFF’s work. This week I’ll take on three more words: “research”, “monitoring,” and “science.”


For those of you who, understandably, don’t have time or desire to read the whole blog, here are the take-home messages.

  • Science requires 1) identification of a problem, 2) collection of data, and 3) formulation and testing of hypotheses.
  • Research and monitoring activities related to natural resources frequently fail to constitute science because they lack testing of hypotheses.
  • Key steps in hypothesis-testing are review of scientific literature, formulation of testable hypotheses, selection of statistical methods, design of data-collection based on the statistical methods, and use of mathematical and computational tools to conduct the hypothesis tests.
  • The peer-reviewed scientific literature is the basis for advancement of scientific knowledge and for the application of science in decision making.
  • HFF strives to conduct science and to publish that science in peer-reviewed journals.

Read on if you want the details!

Rob’s Top-10 HFF Programmatic Accomplishments of 2014

My top-10 list is limited to items from our programmatic work (research and restoration, stewardship, and education) and so does not include other notable HFF events and accomplishments such as four record-breaking fundraising receptions, the 30th Anniversary edition of Henry’s Fork Day, and a special appearance by “The Voice of the River” at the North Fremont Education Foundation talent show and auction. These are all important events and accomplishments that make our programmatic work possible. 

Collaboration, sustainability, and planning: empty words or meaningful actions?

I started out the morning thinking that I would replace the usual blog entry this week with a “fishy” version of “The Night Before Christmas”—you know, “Twas the night before Christmas, in the river, throughout, not a creature was stirring, not even a trout. The stockingfoot waders had been hung with care, but many with holes were in need of repair…” 

HFF Influences Water-Management Discussions at State and International Levels

It has been an exciting week in the water-management world, starting with last week’s episode of 60 minutes, in which Lesley Stahl presented the global problem of groundwater decline, using California’s Central Valley as a particular example.  There, where the State has only recently taken the first small steps toward regulating groundwater pumping, the amount of water removed from the aquifer is so great that the land surface has sunk over 10 feet in many areas.

Aquifer recharge and wild trout: can we have both?

In last week’s blog, I described a particularly busy, though not atypical, couple of weeks of my work here at the Henry’s Fork Foundation. The subject of aquifer recharge came up numerous times in that blog, so I thought I’d follow up this week with an overview of aquifer recharge, how it could affect wild trout on the Henry’s Fork, and what HFF is doing to ensure that recharge activities do not harm fisheries and perhaps could even help them.

The challenges of maintaining wild trout in a “working river”

My co-workers keep reminding me that I need to post a blog once in a while, and those of you who know me well know that my lack of blogging activity has nothing to do with lack of something to say.  Every day in the course of my work I come across ideas and information that I think would make great blog posts, but every day, more things end up in the “in” box than the “out” box, pushing blogging farther down the priority list. 

The last two weeks have been more hectic than usual, resulting in an “out-minus-in” deficit even greater than average.  However, my work over the past two weeks provides an excellent example of the challenges we face in maintaining wild trout fisheries in the Henry’s Fork.  I thought sharing these challenges with you would make a great blog post and give some deeper insight into HFF and its work.  As with most things I write, it’s a little long, but look at this way—it’s five or six weeks’ worth of shorter blogs! 

Stream Gaging and Flows at Island Park Dam

Many of you have asked about management of flows in the Henry’s Fork downstream of Island Park Dam during the summer and fall of 2013. During July, flows were high when irrigation water was being delivered out of Island Park Reservoir, but they were not nearly as high as the real-time streamflow values that appeared on the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) water data web site at the time. Similarly, flows have been dropped to very low levels over the past few weeks to facilitate storage of water in the reservoir, but these flows are not nearly as low as


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