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Creating Watershed Databases for Fish Habitat Quality and Abundance
Federal land managers are increasingly called upon to address regulatory
requirements and considerations for all fish species before, during, and following
any management action, including restoration activities, forestry, and wildfire
planning. This has often proven difficult because of a lack of consistent,
uniform environmental data bases, and of readily available analysis tools that
describe all relevant watershed attributes and predict the effects of various
land uses on fish habitat quality and abundance.
An economic recovery project
led by Gordon Reeves of the PNW Station is being carried out under a joint
venture agreement with Earth Systems Institute (ESI)
of Mt. Shasta (Siskiyou County), California to develop digital map layers
and data bases, and analytical watershed models (an ESI-developed system called
NetMap) for 25 national forests in the Western States. The project will also
assist U.S. Forest Service specialists in applying these tools to various
Other partners on this work are the Forest Service Pacific Northwest and
Pacific Southwest Regions.
ESI used its economic recovery funds to hire three
analytical modelers and one geographical information system (GIS) technician
to accomplish this project.
In bringing together interrelated factors that have been identified as
strongly affecting the habitat for threatened fish species, GIS coverages and
data bases have been assembled for 17 national forests within the Pacific
Northwest Region. Training sessions have been held to assist resource specialists
carrying out landscape-scale analyses to identify and map areas with high
potential for restoring fish habitat, and to assess plans for riparian
and road networks. New analysis tools for predicting the recruitment of
large wood debris to streams have been developed, and assistance provided for
application. YouTube videos that
describe the use of NetMap tools to predict fish habitat attributes and
road effects were also produced.
|The analysis tools developed in this project are designed
to have multiple applications, as illustrated in the graphic below. The
screen shot shows how predictions of fish habitats and erosion potential
can be exported to Google Earth to help visualize where risk to fisheries
might be greatest.