SMP Nuts and Bolts

Monitor Implementation Outcomes and Manage Adaptively

Monitor Manage Graphic

Monitoring of changing ecological conditions or the benefits rivers provide to communities will enable the lead entity to assess progress toward or away from the stated planning objectives. Monitoring results should be compared against planning objectives and measurable results. Without monitoring, it may be difficult or impossible to determine whether or not implemented action(s) had their intended effect. 


Thoughtfully engage stakeholders/the community with evaluation results. This can be a great way to continue relationships with stakeholders over the long term.

Additional Considerations for Monitoring:

When possible, use data assessment methods that were used for planning to ensure consistency.

The frequency of repeated monitoring assessments should be determined by practitioners and stakeholders.

Plans for ongoing monitoring and the costs associated with it must be embedded in final implementation plans for each implemented action.

Consider engaging volunteers or stakeholders in ongoing data collection efforts, where appropriate.

Ensure that there is a report-back mechanism or process established to review the monitoring results.

Consider establishing an interdisciplinary team to oversee monitoring activities.

Thoughtfully engage stakeholders/the community with evaluation results. This can be a great way to continue relationships with stakeholders over the long term.

Monitoring results may reveal changes in the ecology or services rivers provide to the community. If changes are undesirable, stakeholders may need to:

Consider new or different approaches to address priority actions

Revisit the evaluation and prioritization step while reflecting on this new information

Reinitiate the planning process


  1. After floods impacted Colorado’s Front Range in 2013, the CWCB began monitoring a subset of the 100+ stream and floodplain rehabilitation projects that were implemented. This report describes the methods that were used in the initial baseline data collection and subsequent monitoring effort.
  2. The Learning By Doing group in the Upper Colorado River Basin uses the Grand County Stream Management Plan as a shared vision of river health and collaboratively monitors stream conditions and project implementation. They produce annual monitoring reports on their progress.
  3. Left Hand Watershed Center’s adaptive management plan for flood restoration provides a framework for adaptive management.
  4. As part of their SMP, City of Steamboat Springs staff are required to report annually to city council on the progress of their plan through an annual report.
  5. The Big Thompson and Fourmile watershed flood recovery monitoring plan provides examples of specific adaptive management actions that could be triggered as a result of ongoing monitoring/evaluation.
  6. In this video, the Coalition for the Poudre River outlines their approach to using volunteer citizen science for collecting data.
  7. RiversEdge West created a Riparian Restoration Stewardship Framework to serve as a blueprint for the stewardship, monitoring, and maintenance of tamarisk and Russian olive removal areas. The tool is applicable for riparian restoration more broadly as well.
Colorado SMP Library