Abstract During the past several decades, heightened environmental awareness has led to more environmentally sensitive river management and regulation, and in some cases, river restoration. In this paper, I propose a six-step approach for undertaking river management and restoration projects. The six steps are 1) problem identification, 2) goal setting, 3) situation analysis, 4) planning, design, and permitting, 5) project implementation, and 6) monitoring. I suggest that the third step—situation analysis—may be the most critical, since it not only establishes management or design parameters, but also may provide information suggesting reconsideration of project goals. Situation analysis requires an integrated appraisal of watershed conditions at a range of scales. In this paper, I first present some basic geomorphic concepts—including equilibrium, complex response, and the significance of spatial and temporal scale— to illustrate the complexities of natural river systems. I then describe several geomorphic analysis methods for assessing river system condition.
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