» Watershed Health
Understanding the Links Between Aquatic and Terrestrial
A watershed approach to management requires understanding the connections
between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in the upper and lower reaches
of a drainage. In 2010, station researchers conducted studies yielding
information that can be used to maintain the many processes that comprise
a healthy watershed.
Restoring Salmon Habitat
resources have been directed to salmon resto-ration efforts. Are they
making a difference? Scientists found that in-stream habitat restoration
structures in Columbia Basin watersheds do make detectable short-term,
small-scale improvements in fish populations. The effectiveness of built
habitat structures, however, may differ for various salmon species and
can be difficult to discern owing to variation over time in the abundance
of fishes or the quality of other habitat attributes.
Use: This information was shared
with stakeholders interested in salmon recovery and effective intervention
Maintaining Integrity of Riparian Areas
Riparian ecosystems are particularly sensitive to the threat
of invasive plants and the herbicides commonly used in uplands to control
such invaders. As an alternative to herbicides, researchers tested the
effectiveness of using flea beetles to control leafy spurge, an invasive
weed that has appeared along streams throughout much of the country.
They found that releasing large numbers of the beetle (50 per stem) effectively
reduced the weed.
Use: This technique is now
being used in Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming, including the Yellowstone and
Scientists and natural resource managers identified key
threats to Northwest amphibians and reptiles. They found that these species
of concern would likely benefit from standardized regulations for managing
native and nonnative species, increased use of data management programs,
and jurisdictional stewards for these species to serve as liaisons among
fisheries, wildlife, and forestry departments.
Use: In Oregon, three federal
agencies are implementing a conservation strategy for the Siskiyou Mountains
salamander on federal lands. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is using
this strategy for another salamander species in New Mexico.
Working With Watershed
organized watershed councils can be effective forums leading to improved
water quality and fish and wildlife habitat. Researchers working with
the Long Tom Watershed Council in western Oregon found that restoration
projects were possible in watersheds under diverse ownership if local
landowners were included in initial development of goals and guidelines
for restoration work and in ecological monitoring. They also found that
by integrating local knowledge, responding to the fears and concerns
of local residents, and explaining the reasons for the work undertaken,
successful, coordinated watershed-wide restoration planning can occur.
Use: This information can be used by other watershed councils
interested in developing coordinated watershed management that is responsive
to ongoing scientific learning.
New Tools: NetMap and
ICWater v. 3
is a Web-based platform used for cost-effective, timely watershed
and landscape analyses. It now hosts a climate change
component that includes projected changes in seasonal hydrographs,
changes in the likely location of the snow-to-rain transition zones,
and thermal loading.
Use: The Olympic and Okanogan-Wenatchee
National Forests are using NetMap to consider the impact of climate change
on watersheds. Training will be conducted at other forests in the Pacific
Northwest Region in 2011. The Bureau of Land Management and other federal
agencies are interested in expanding this tool to non-Forest Service
Command Tool for Protecting Drinking Water (ICWater) v. 3:
This software informs incident commanders and other first responders
about risks to drinking water as they mount an effective emergency
response. It now includes effects from deposition of toxic materials
from airborne plumes and tidal influence on riverflows in coastal
Users: First responders use
ICWater in toxic spill emergencies. The U.S. Forest Service Missoula
Fire Laboratory uses it to assess which assets are at risk from active
wildfires, and the agency’s Forest Health Protection program is
using ICWater to plan a nationwide aquatic monitoring program for early
detection of waterborne propagules of sudden oak death.