Adaptive Management by Brooke Bowser

Brooke Bowser created this digital piece to help people visualize the concept of Adaptive Management, which is a process Wisconsin Sea Grant often uses during their work with erosion control and restoration along the coasts of the Great Lakes bordering Wisconsin. This illustration was developed to be used for Sea Grant’s Adaptive Management outreach with homeowners and other organizations.

Adaptive management is a cyclic approach to conservation that requires both action and adjustment and therefore cannot be described with a linear set of steps. The simple words surrounding the cycle describe what often requires complex deliberation and collaboration. 

When tackling a coastal management project, the team must learn, set goals and plan, execute the plan, and monitor and evaluate the results. But even the most well-researched projects do not always go according to plan and require adjustments along the way. The center image of the damaged boardwalk was inspired by an example of adaptive management in practice with a project at Samuel Myers Park in Racine, WI. When a strong storm caused unexpected damage to the management project, the team had to return to the planning stages of the original project and make amendments to better manage future storms.


Brooke Bowser is a senior studying Environmental Sciences and Life Sciences Communication at UW-Madison. Her interest in science communications is rooted in her love for the Earth, and she strives to use writing and visual art to help others understand and connect with the natural world in a way that supports a healthier and more equitable place for our communities and our planet. Find more of her work here.

ABOUT THE Water Partner

Lydia Salus is the J. Philip Keillor Coastal Management Fellow with the Wisconsin Sea Grant and Wisconsin Coastal Management programs. Overall, the goal of this fellowship is to connect science related to coastal processes with Wisconsin communities that could benefit from having that information. To accomplish this, Lydia writes and develops content for outreach materials such as technical documents and guidances, fact sheets, and blogs to enhance decision making related to coastal management by property owners and municipalities in Wisconsin’s Great Lakes communities.

Funded by the Center for Humanities HEX-U Undergraduate Exchange.