Structured Decision-Making Framework for Managing Cyanobacterial Harmful Algal Blooms in New York State Parks

April 17, 2024

Speaker: Jennifer Graham (USGS)

Abstract:

Cyanobacteria increasingly are a global water-quality concern because of the potential for these organisms to develop harmful blooms that affect ecologic, economic, and public health. Cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (CyanoHABs) can lead to a decrease in water quality and may affect the recreational and ecological benefits of parks that include lakes. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) is a state agency charged with the operation of state parks and historic sites. Many New York State parks include lakes or other freshwater bodies, which can be susceptible to CyanoHABs. The OPRHP faces difficult decisions regarding prevention of and response to CyanoHABs. Decision analysis is often used to inform complex decisions regarding natural resource management. Structured decision making (SDM) breaks down complex decisions into their basic parts and reconstructs the problem into a framework that allows for collaborative examination and development of suitable actions. The U.S. Geological Survey partnered with OPRHP and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to develop a SDM template for managing CyanoHABs in OPRHP parks. Two parks, Moreau Lake State Park and Rockland Lake State Park, served as case studies to motivate and test the template. This presentation will describe how the principles of SDM can be used to navigate the challenges associated with managing CyanoHABs using the case studies as examples. Management objectives and strategies for CyanoHABs in OPRHP parks, strategies to evaluate consequences and manage trade-offs, and potential challenges to the implementation of preferred alternatives will be discussed.