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The combined effects of urbanization and climate change require resource managers to navigate interacting social and ecological dimensions of environment in the stewardship of ecosystem goods and services. The challenge of integrating multiple management paradigms into the planning process for sustainable restoration is complex, yet when handled successfully, can result in the emergence of ecosystem goods and services. The present study uses the restoration of the North Branch of the Pike River in Southeastern Wisconsin, USA as a case study to understand the contributions of situational context and actor agency in the integration of management paradigms, and transformation of a highly degraded stream ecosystem into a vibrant community asset. Drawing from the social-ecological systems and dynamic systems change literatures, the management and transition framework was used to analyze the 20-year restoration process from problem definition and planning through implementation. Review of planning documents, meeting notes, and interviews with key individuals identified the factors necessary to understand how a social-ecological system navigated through conflict, negotiation of an integrated management paradigm, implementation, and adaptive learning. As convening contexts changed, different actors assumed convening, bridging, sense making, and leveraging roles as legitimacy and trust in the process was built over time. Integration of paradigms was identified as a learning opportunity, as the incorporation of diverse ways of knowing resulted in the emergence of novel ecosystem goods and services. The performance of the novel integrated management paradigm since completion is discussed, including takeaways managers should keep in mind when applying the approach elsewhere.


S. Andrew McGuire, Timothy Ehlinger, Restoration as social-ecological transformation: Emergence in the Pike River Watershed, Journal of Great Lakes Research, 2022. DOI: