Establish Clear Timelines
Science can be refined to an infinite degree, so it was difficult to know when the analysis and collection was enough.
How long an SMP takes depends on a variety of factors, including the geographic scope, the adequacy of existing data, how many variables are assessed and the number of stakeholders involved. Receiving the Notice to Proceed from the State of Colorado if using state grant funds can take up to 6 months. From that point, a simple SMP on a well-defined reach of river can take 18 months. More complex projects on multiple reaches can take up to three years.
Timelines move SMPs forward, but it is important to leave time and space for conversations. As helpful as deadlines can be, tight timelines driven by funding or other factors can rush the process and leave people behind. That said, having hard deadlines for funding applications and grant reporting has the secondary effect of forcing stakeholders to quickly work through conflicts.
It is hard to predict how long certain tasks will take, especially when responsibilities are split between various entities. Field work is often limited to the summer season or when irrigation water is flowing. Flexible timelines allow stakeholders ample time to review assessments and outputs and to share their crucial input.