Abstract: Stream restoration is a socio-environmental process enacted in a socio-environmental system. However, many stream restoration practitioners and researchers only consider hydrology, geomorphology, and ecology when planning, implementing, and evaluating stream restoration. In this process, human engagement with streams and implications for environmental justice (EJ) go unnoticed. Similarly, environmental justice practitioners and researchers have not yet extended concepts of distributive, participatory, and recognition justice to stream restoration.
Thus, there are critical, practical disconnects between research that demonstrates interconnectedness of society, environment, and health; the reality of social and environmental injustice; and the management of water resources for the public good. We propose to address these disconnects by synthesizing diverse academic fields to create a best-practices framework for socio-environmental justice specifically in stream restoration. We will then use this framework to assess engagement with different forms of EJ in six completed stream restoration projects to see what effect EJ processes and objectives have on project outcomes. Through these case studies, we will test our hypothesis that the greater the engagement with participatory and recognition justice best practices (as defined by our framework), the more fully realized, equitable distributive justice outcomes will be in stream restoration.
We will tailor our research process and publications to stream restoration practitioners in order to make this research practically useful. We anticipate distributing the results of our research in both academic (e.g., journals) and more public (e.g., blogs and social media) venues to reach and be accessible to researchers, activists, frontline communities, and practitioners alike.