MONDAY, MARCH 3, 1997
Title: Conclusions from the Scientific Assessment
Presenter: Thomas Quigley
The Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project was initiated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service (FS) and U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in response to decisions to adopt an ecosystem based management strategy, the need to replace interim direction, concerns about declining forest, rangeland, and aquatic health, and concerns about single species approaches to conservation and management. The project area includes those portions of the Columbia Basin within the United States and east of the Cascade crest, and portions of the Klamath and Great Basins in Oregon (the Basin). The Basin includes 145 million acres with the FS and BLM administering over half (76 million acres) the area.
The integrated scientific assessment links landscape, aquatic, terrestrial, social, and economic characterizations to describe biophysical and social systems. Integration was achieved through the use of a framework built around six goals for ecosystem management and three different views of the future. The overall purpose of the assessment is to develop a better understanding of the current, historical, and potential future biophysical, economic, and social conditions and trends in the Basin. The assessment provides the foundation for proposed additions or changes to existing FS and BLM resource management plans to consistently manage risks and opportunities at multiple scales.
Some highlights of the findings include:
1. There has been a 27 percent decline in multi-layer and 60 percent decline in single-layer old-forest structures from historical levels,
predominantly in ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir forest types.
2. Aquatic biodiversity has declined through local extirpations, extinctions, and introduction of exotic fish species, and the threat to riparian plants and animals has increased.
3. Some watershed disturbances, both natural and human induced, have caused and continue to cause risks to ecological integrity, especially owing to isolation and fragmentation of fish habitat.
4. The threat of severe lethal fires has increased by nearly 20 percent, predominantly in the dry and moist forest types.
5. Rangeland health and diversity have declined because of exotic species introductions, historical grazing, changing fire regimes, agricultural conversions of native shrublands and herblands, and woodland expansion in areas that were once native shrublands and herblands.
6. Human communities and economies of the Basin have changed and continue to change rapidly although rates of change are not uniform.
There are tremendous opportunities to restore ecosystem processes and functions as well as provide for the flow of goods and services demanded by society. In addition to tremendous opportunities there are also risks associated with attaining these opportunities. Some risks are related to natural events such as wildfire, insect, and disease outbreaks, while some risks are associated with management activities such as road building, timber harvest, and prescribed fire. These risks and opportunities vary greatly across the Basin. The assessment has characterized the broad level risks and opportunities across the Basin. Realizing the opportunities and managing the risks involves working within the adaptive management framework presented.
TUESDAY, MARCH 4, 1997
Title: Ecosystem Integrity
Moderator: Thomas Quigley
Panelists: Paul Hessburg, Jim Sedell, Richard Haynes
Ecosystem Integrity - The scientific assessment described ecosystems as consisting of the biophysical as well as the socioeconomic systems. Thus, people are integral to ecosystems and their integrity. Drawing from the detailed assessment of historical and current conditions within the Basin, two concepts were used to integrate the major functional areas to determine status of the ecosystems. Maintaining the integrity of ecosystems is assumed to be the overriding goal of ecosystem management. The integrity of ecosystems encompasses both social and biophysical components; the health of the Basin's people and economy are not a separate issue from the health and integrity of other ecosystem components. In simple terms ecological integrity refers to the presence and functioning of ecological components and processes. The basic components of ecological integrity include the forest, range, and aquatic systems with a hydrologic system that overlays the landscape as a whole. The counterpart to ecological integrity in social and economic terms is resiliency (measured at the county level), which in the context of ecosystem management reflects the interests of people to maintain well-being through personal and community transitions.
Composite Ecological Integrity - Integrity ratings were developed for five ecological components (forestland, rangeland, forest and rangeland hydrologic, and aquatic systems). This information became the primary basis for estimating composite ecological integrity for each subbasin (approximately 850,000 acres in size) within the Basin. Currently, 16 percent of the Basin is rated as having high relative composite ecological integrity, 24 percent as moderate, and 60 percent as low. Eighty-four percent of the systems with high integrity are on FS- and BLM-administered lands while 39 percent of the low integrity systems are on FS- and BLM-administered lands.
Socioeconomic Resiliency - Socioeconomic resiliency, estimated at the county level for this analysis, dealt with the adaptability of human systems. High ratings imply that these systems are highly adaptable; changes in one aspect are quickly offset by self-correcting changes in other sectors or aspects. High levels of socioeconomic resiliency should reflect communities and economies that are adaptable to change, where "sense of place" is recognized in management actions, and where the mix of goods, functions, and services that society wants from ecosystems is maintained. A low rating applies to 54 Basin counties. Another 20 Basin counties were rated as having an intermediate level of resiliency. A high socioeconomic resiliency rating applies to the 26 Basin counties that are more densely populated. While 68 percent of the area within the Basin is rated as having low socioeconomic resiliency, 67 percent of the people of the Basin live in areas with high socioeconomic resiliency.
COMMUNITIES IN TRANSITION
SESSION 1 - Assessment Findings
Title: Summary of Social Results
Presenters: Steve McCool and Jim Burchfield
A brief review of the Interior Columbia Basin Social Assessment that includes a historical overview of human occupation of the basin, an examination of public attitudes and values regarding the uses of public lands, a description of recent demographic trends, a summary of the characteristics of small rural communities, a display of recreation opportunities and the quality of scenery, and an analysis of institutional behaviors affecting the public's role in land management decisions.
Title: Economic Assessment of the interior Columbia Basin
Presenter: Amy Horne
FS and BLM decisions affect few jobs in the Interior Columbia Basin. Changes in timber may have long-lasting effects in low economic-resiliency places such as central Oregon, northcentral Washington, and northwestern Montana. Amenities (scenery and recreation opportunities) seem to be driving economic development along the Cascades and northern Rocky Mountains. Society has shifted in what it wants from public lands and will continue to do so. The agencies will have greater political success with road decisions if public desires, not just management needs, are considered because changes in the road network potentially have enormous impacts on constituent well-being. Finally, the Forest Service and BLM policies will be more effective if they are tailored to differences in what ecosystems provide society and their importance to local economies.
Title: The Changing Economic Bases: Findings Relative to the issue of Economic Decoupling
Presenter: Richard Haynes
In the west there are competing explanations of what constitutes an economic base and the determinants of economic growth. Some of this mirrors the struggle between notions of the new west and the old west. The old west being largely a rural society wrestling its living from agriculture and various natural resources. The new west has a largely urbanized population and a diverse economy in which economic growth is being driven by trade and services. The basic neoclassical economic view of economic growth has been that a region's growth is a function of the goods manufactured from that region's natural endowments. In the last decade but probably a longer term feature has been the growing realization that economic growth is taking place almost independent of events in the manufacturing sector. This latter view has been called economic decoupling because the focus is on the apparent decoupling of the economy from the manufacturing sector as an explainer of economic growth. In the Columbia Basin, for example, manufacturing employment has grown more slowly than total employment and as a percentage has declined from nearly 15 to less than 13 percent over the past two decades suggesting that the Basin's economy is growing from sources other than manufacturing.
Title: Defining a measurable definition of Community Capacity that can be used to judge Community Responsiveness
Presenter: Steve McCool
An overview of the factors that contribute to the ability of a rural community to respond positively to change. It includes an examination of social/demographic factors such as location and population size, as well as the contributions of economic diversity, amenity access, and civic infrastructure.
Title: Treaties, Spirituality, and Ecosystems
Presenter: Richard Hanes
American Indian interests, long established prior to United States expansion into the Pacific Northwest, are pervasive across the landscape of the interior Columbia region. Increased political and economic power experienced by tribal governments over the past 20 years has corresponded in time with significant growth in the general United States population in rural areas of the American West. With improved economic markets for tribal participation and enhanced capabilities for tribes to participate in these markets, a major concern in the 1990s is the balancing of economic growth and preservation of traditional cultural identity. This presentation, relying on information gathered from a broad array of sources, discusses tribal issues relevant to the Interior Columbia Basin Project.
SESSION 2- Communities in Transition Roundtable
Title: Roundtable discussion
Moderator: Craig Shinn
1). What strategies do you think might work well to increase socio-economic resiliency in your community?
2). How can a community accomodate population growth without losing the qualities that make a community attractive?
3). What would help your community adapt to change?
BROADSCALE ASSESSMENT OF AQUATIC SPECIES AND HABITATS
SESSION 1--Aquatic Findings
Title: Introduction and overview of Basin features that influence aquatic communities
Presenter: Lynn Decker
The Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project includes 4 major mountain ranges, broad valleys of the Columbia, Snake, and Klamath river basins; and closed basin lakes of the Northern Great Basin. These areas are influenced by variations in climate and precipitation, and support a variety of forest types, deserts and grasslands. The Basin contains 145 million acres under federal, state, local and private management; supporting the major industries of timber, hydroelectricity, recreation, ranching, agriculture, transportation, mining and fisheries. For aquatic biota, the Basin's natural features create diverse habitats which, combined with human activities, create many challenges. The presentation introduces Basin features relevant to aquatic ecosystems, some major challenges, and basis for assessment of aquatic species and habitats.
Title: A Characterization and Analysis of Inventoried Streams in the interior Columbia River Basin
Presenters: Kerry Overton and Shaun McKinney
The aquatic team assembled stream inventory data from the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the state of Oregon and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. A database was constructed from these disparate non-spatial data sources and dynamically segmented to the 1:100,000 USGS Hydrography Layer. Over 17,000 km of inventory was spatially located with this process.
Dynamic Segmentation of the 1:100,000 stream layer provided a consistent large scale aquatic framework to analyze information from over 600,000 habitat units throughout the basin. The results of the generalized linear modeling and the general trends indicate that streams are significantly affected by human management activities. Most notably, pool frequency (large pools and all pools) is inversely correlated with road density and management intensity. Further, streams were characterized and placed in context within three ecological scales.
Title: Hydrologic Disturbance, Resiliency and Integrity
Presenter: Mark Jensen
Estimation of hydrologic integrity across the Basin was determined using a generalized, probabilistic approach. Information concerning the resiliency of watersheds to disturbance and estimates of past management activity disturbance to watersheds were both used in determining the hydrologic integrity of subbasins. Rangeland and forested watersheds were assessed independently in this analysis to facilitate characterization of these environments separately at the subbasin level. A generalized description of hydrologic disturbance was constructed for the Basin for each subbasin by forest and rangeland environments. This summary disturbance value for each subbasin was then converted to a cumulative frequency value which reflected overall relative hydrologic impact differences across all subbasins of the Basin. These cumulative frequency values were converted into three hydrologic disturbance class ratings.
SESSION 2 -- Aquatic Findings
Title: Development of the project fish data bases
Presenter: Russ Thurow
A synthesis of the status of fishes in the interior Columbia River Basin and portions of the Klamath River and Great Basins is provided. The goal was a consistent evaluation of fish status and distribution. Current and historical fish status and distribution, explored linkages between aquatic ecosystems and other components of the landscape, and identified high integrity areas were evaluated. Data were compiled from existing source and by over 140 biologists working throughout the region. Using statistical models, expected distributions of seven key salmonids across more than 7,000 subwatersheds were mapped. The assessment demonstrates that dramatic and extensive changes have occurred in the aquatic ecosystem. Native species have declined, habitats have been fragmented and degraded, and introduced species are widely distributed. Although much of the historical system has been altered, core areas remain for rebuilding and maintaining functioning aquatic systems.
Title: Native and Introduced fish species: distribution and status
Presenter: Jack Williams
The native fish fauna of the interior Columbia Basin is distributed according to the following zoographic provinces: Upper Snake, Glaciated Columbia, Unglaciated Columbia/Lower Snake, Klamath, and Great Basins. The native fishes of the Upper Snake show affinity to the fishes of the Bonneville Basin in Utah. Species of the Glaciated Columbia include species like the burbot and pygmy whitefish, which have spotty but broad distribution throughout areas of North America exposed to continental glaciation. High endemism but reduced species diversity characterize fishes of the Klamath and Great Basins.
A total of 48 native fishes in the assessment area are classified as threatened, endangered, candidate or sensitive by federal and/or state governments. Approximately 47 percent of the native fish fauna does not fit into one of these categories and is therefore considered to be "secure". Habitat degradation coupled with establishment of non-native fishes is the primary threat. The lack of information on many of the non-salmonid native fishes inhibits the ability to manage them and their habitats properly.
Title: Fish communities and measures of diversity
Presenter: Danny Lee
As part of the broadscale assessment of aquatic habitats and species, fish assemblages in over 2000 watersheds within the project assessment area were examined. Sixteen distinct assemblages were identified and mapped using presence information on all species, and a statistical approach known as association analysis. This information also identified areas dominated by native species, as opposed to those which contained a high portion of introduced fishes. Using various indicies of diversity and species richness, areas of high fish community integrity were mapped, which then was used in our overall assessment of aquatic conditions.
Title: Key Salmonid species: Distribution and Status
Presenter: Russ Thurow
We provide a synthesis of the status of fishes in the interior Columbia River Basin and portions of the Klamath River and Great Basins. Our goal was a consistent evaluation of fish status and distribution. We evaluated current and historical fish status and distribution, explored linkages between aquatic ecosystems and other components of the landscape, and identified high integrity areas. Data were compiled from existing source and by over 140 biologists working throughout the region. Using statistical models, we mapped expected distributions of seven key salmonids across more than 7,000 subwatersheds. Our assessment demonstrates that dramatic and extensive changes have occurred in the aquatic ecosystem. Native species have declined, habitats have been fragmented and degraded, and introduced species are widely distributed. Although much of the historical system has been altered, core areas remain for rebuilding and maintaining functioning aquatic systems.
SESSION 3--Implications of Aquatic Findings to Management
Title: Roads and fish, the importance of habitat to anadromous salmonids
Presenter: Danny Lee
Among the numerous issues involved in management of interior Columbia Basin fish populations, two of the more contentious are the effects of roads on fish and the importance of inland habitats (streams and rivers used for spawning and rearing) on anadromous salmon and steelhead. These issues were examined and both expirical evidence and conceptual arguments were used to show that (1) the population status of several key salmonid species is negatively associated with increasing road density and its attendant effects, (2) the spatial distribution of remaining salmon and steelhead populations shows a positive correlation with habitat quality and protection, and (3) inland habitat is a key component in population viability of anadromous fish, especially when these fish experience excessive mortality in other phases of their life cycle.
Title: Riparian and Stream protection standards
Presenters: Jim Sedell and Jim Clayton
Four biophysical principles underlie any evaluation of a riparian management strategy: 1) a stream requires predictable and near-natural energy and nutrient inputs; 2) many plant and animal communities rely on streamside forests and vegetation; 3) small streams are generally more affected by hillslope activities than are larger streams; and 4) as adjacent slopes become steeper, the likelihood of disturbance resulting in discernable in-stream effects increases. Slope is a significant predictor of the distance sediment travels, and it is reasonable to tune a Riparian Habitat Conservation Area (RHCA) width based on slope in lieu of having other intensive site variable information. Recent research findings are used to parameterize a slope-sensitive default RHCA width. Further discussion on riparian widths to maintain ecological function will be discussed.
Title: Integrating aquatic and landscape issues
Presenter: Bruce Rieman
Recent assessments of the forest and fish communities within the interior Columbia River Basin demonstrate that both have diverged dramatically from historical conditions. Degradation of fish communities was found. While conservation of remnant habitats is a critical first step in conserving native fishes, long-term maintenance of biological diversity and sustaining productive fisheries depend on restoring larger, spatially diverse networks of habitats which support the phenotypic and life-history diversity necessary to buffer populations in variable and changing environments. Because of the mosaic of aquatic habitats is inextricably linked to the structure, composition, and disturbance regime of forest ecosystems, efforts to restructure and recompose forest communities to forms more consistent with natural disturbance regimes are important. Although past forest and aquatic management have often been in conflict, the results suggest that priorities for conservation and restoration of functional, intact aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems often coincide. The challenge is to integrate management of terrestrial and aquatic systems, rather than work at cross purposes. Results from the broad-scale analysis suggest opportunities exist to do just that.
Title: Application of assessment information to finescale planning
Presenters: Ken McDonald and Kerry Overton
The Scientific Assessment describes ecological conditions on the scale of the interior Columbia Basin. The presentation presents an example of how the information and assessment procedures used to describe aquatic resources within the interior Columbia Basin may be used to assess aquatic resource conditions at the mangement plan or watershed scale. The process is currently being used on the Wenatchee National Forest in watershed analysis, Late Successional Reserve assessment and conferencing with the National Marine Fisheries Service.
DYNAMIC LANDSCAPE ASSESSMENTS
SESSION 1--Landscape and Spatial Assessment Overview
Title: Landscape Assessment Overview
Presenter: Thomas Quigley
At the start of the scientific assessment of the Basin several questions were posed for the landscape assessment: 1) Within the Basin, what are the status and trends of landscape processes and functions; what are the causal agents responsible for these trends? 2) In what capacity will current and future landscape disturbance regimes affect landscape patterns and biophysical potentials; in response to landscape management strategies, what are the probable trends of distubance regimes for the future? 3) What are the historical and probable future trends of landscape elements important to amenity and commodity resource flows; how will these trends differ under various landscape management strategies? and 4) What are the probable trends of functions and processes for various landscape management futures; what will be the opportunities, tradeoffs, and consequences of these management futures with respect to biogeochemical processes, carbon-nutrient cycling, and long-term productivity?
In order to understand cause and effect responses for native species, the native pre-Euro-American settlement regime in the Basin was characterized to understand the historical range of variability (HRV) that influenced the evolutionary adaptations of native species and the development of biophysical systems. This involved a look at the paleoecological system as well as the 400 year period prior to settlement. As a baseline to help understand the changes that have occurred with settlement and modern development, the early historical period (circa 1850-1930), recent historical period (1930-1970), and current period (circa 1970-1995) were characterized.
To describe future scenarios of different kinds of management, simulation models were developed that projected regional and landscape conditions for the short-term (1st decade) and long-term (50 to 100 years). Multiple scales of data were used to answer the questions including broad scale, plot data, current photography of early historical photo points, and simulation models. There are substantial changes from the early historical to current periods in most landscape elements. In addition, answers to the questions both did and did not support the original hypothesized answers.
Title: Spatial Data Overview
Presenter: Rebecca Gravenmier
Over 170 different Geographical Information System (GIS) data layers or themes and over 15 databases were compiled or created in support of the Scientific Assessment and the development of the Eastside and Upper River Basin EISs. The project is the largest interagency development effort undertaken by the agencies involved, covering more that 58 million hectares (144 million acres). Data layers were derived from source maps, photos, or transfer media ranging from 1:12, 000 to 1:4,000,000 in scale. Some GIS layers mapped features continuously across the project area while others covered discrete areas only. Many agencies, universities, state agencies, and non-governmental organizations provided data for the project. GIS provided the means to dynamically model an analyze living systems throughout the Basin in ways that were impractical only a decade ago.
SESSION 2--Characterization of the Basin
Title: Biophysical Environments of the Basin
Presenter: Mark Jensen
The presentation describes the biophysical environments of the Basin. Specifically, the methods used in their description, the ecological processes they constrain, management interpretations associated with them, and their general characteristics. The types of biophysical environments addressed include multi-scale description of: geologic, geoclimatic, potential vegetation, soils, and hydrologic system organization. These levels and types of biophysical environments were important to the ecological assessment of the Basin for the following reasons: 1) They facilitated the delineation and description of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems that behave in a similar manner given their potential ecosystem composition, structure and function; 2) They delineate areas with similar production potentials for management; 3) They provide a basis for interpretations concerning hazards and limitations to management; 4) They influence (to a large degree) the natural disturbance processes that create finer-scale ecosystem patterns (e.g., existing vegetation, species distributions); and 5) They provide a needed context for the use and development of predictive models concerning future ecosystem pattern and process relations.
Title: Characterizing Landscape Dynamics
Presenter: Robert Keane
The Columbia River Basin Succession Model (CRBSUM) simulates broad-scale landscape changes as a consequence of various land management policies. CRBSUM is a coarse-scale, spatially-explicit, deterministic model with stochastic properties that simulates changes in vegetation cover types and structural stages on large landscapes over long periods. It was designed to compare the effects of alternative management strategies on coarse scale vegetation dynamics. CRBSUM is flexible and robust with all parameters and initial values specified as inputs to the model. Successional dynamics are modeled using a multiple pathway approach where successional community types, called succession classes, are linked along pathways converging to a stable community type called a Potential Vegetation Type. Each succession class is described by a cover type and structural stage. Disturbance is stochastically simulated as a change in cover type or structural stage using probabilities that reflect a possible management action or natural event. CRBSUM was first used to simulate coarse scale landscape changes in theinterior Columbia River Basin from four management scenarios called management futures. Additional management scenarios were created from the original management futures by stratifying disturbance probabilities in time and space. The final alternatives for the EIS were constructed from the 18 management scenarios by assigning management scenarios to a geographic region of the Basin.
Title: Dynamics of Climate in the Basin
Presenter: Sue Ferguson
Climate in the interior Columbia River Basin is in a unique transition between three distinct air mass types; 1) moist marine, 2) dry, continental, and 3) cold, arctic. Topography of the basin helps to control the duration and spatial extent of each air mass as they jointly and independently affect weather and climate conditions in the Basin. The topographic controls also cause a unique interplay between air masses that result in dramatic changes during transition. The dominance of individual air masses changes over time. Past, current, and potential future basin climate patterns are examined to determine effects on air quality and disturbance processes (e.g., cold damage, wind throw, fire ignition and spread, flood, and drought).
SESSION 3-Midscale and Broadscale Landscape Dynamics
Title: Midscale Landscape Dynamics
Presenters: Paul Hessburg and Brad Smith
In the interior Columbia River Basin midscale assessment, changes in forest and range vegetation patterns and forest vulnerability to fire, insect, and pathogen disturbances were quantified, over the most recent 40 to 60 year period. Change was quantified for a sample of 337 subwatersheds selected from 43 of 164 total subbasins. Change results were reported to province-scale Ecological Reporting Units (ERUs). Continuous historical and current vegetation maps were built from aerial photographic coverages of sampled subwatersheds, and modeled and attributed cover types, structural classes, and series-level potential vegetation types to individual patches. Change in spatial patterns of vegetation were assessed in a Geographical Information System, using ARCF and FRAGSTATS, a spatial pattern analysis program. Forest and range ecosystems have been significantly altered in their first century of active management, but there is reason for guarded optimism. Large areas remain relatively unchanged and intact, such as can be found in the Northern Cascades, Snake Headwaters, and Central Idaho Mountains, and these areas may provide an essential "nucleus" for conservation strategies and restoration activities. Strategies for improving the health of Basin ecosystems can build on existing strengths. Improved understanding of changes in vegetation patterns, causative factors, and linkages with disturbance processes will assist manages and policy-makers in making informed decisions about how to address important ecosystem health issues.
Title: Midscale Dynamics of Fire and Smoke
Presenter: Roger Ottmar
Little information is available on how shifts in forest composition and structure over time resulting from natural succession, disturbance, and human intervention have changed landscape with respect to fuel build-up, potential wildfire and prescribed fire smoke production, and vulnerability to wildfire. This presentation compares the fuel loading patterns, potential smoke production, and potential fire behavior of recent historical and current time periods based on changes in vegetative attributes in 337 subwatersheds on all ownerships within the Interior Columbia River Basin. The results of the change analysis are reported for province-scale Ecological Reporting Units and for selected subwatersheds; and will provide better information for decision makers to establish management goals and objectives for administering forest and rangeland landscapes.
Title: Rangeland Landscape Dynamics in the Interior Columbia Basin and Portions of the Klamath and Great Basins
Presenter: Sherm Karl
Rangelands exceeded 50 percent of the Basin before Euro-American settlement (historical). The extent of rangelands has declined from the historical to the current period, attributable primarily to agricultural conversion and urban development of about 17 percent and <1 percent of the Basin, respectively. Rangeland composition has shifted from the historical to the current period. Grassland and shrubland extent has declined, while woodland extent has increased. Excessive livestock grazing pressure in the early historical period resulted in decline in abundance and extent of major grassland plant species, for example bluebunch wheatgrass and Idaho fescue. Next to agricultural lands, grasslands are the most susceptible to invasion by exotic plants, and exotic plants such as yellow starthistle and spotted knapweed are contributing to decline in grasslands. Shrublands, particularly the cool shrublands dominated by mountain big sagebrush, have declined in some areas because of encroachment and increasing density of woodlands, dominated primarily by western juniper, ponderosa pine, or Douglas-fir. Excessive livestock grazing pressure, coupled with active human fire suppression, has triggered and accelerated the encroachment of woodlands into shrublands. Shrubland decline is also attributable to exotic plant invasion, particularly invasion by the flammable exotic annual grasses cheatgrass and medusahead. Thus, excessive livestock grazing pressure, alteration of fire regimes, and invasion by exotic plants have been human-induced causal agents of change that have altered the succession and disturbance processes of the native (pre Euro-American settlement) biophysical setting on rangelands.
SESSION 4--Multi-Scale Landscape Relationships
Title: Air Quality in the Basin
Presenter: Ann Acheson
An assessment of existing and potential impacts to vegetation, aquatics, and visibility within the interior Columbia River Basin due to anthropogenic air pollution was conducted as a part of the Project. This assessment used current literature and existing databases to examine the current situation and potential trends due to pollutants, such as ammonium, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, particulates, carbon, and ozone. The assessment identifies ecosystems and resources at risk (i.e., certain forests, lichens, cryptogamic crusts, high-elevation lakes and streams, arid lands, and Class I areas), characterizes pollutant levels and exposures needed to cause effects, discusses the significance of emissions not previously considered in emissions inventories, and describes current visibility in Class I areas within the Basin and pollution sources which may impact visibility. The assessment also includes a summary of data gaps, and suggestions for future research, development and applications related to air pollution effects and analysis.
Title: Multi-scale Assessment of Patterns
Presenters: Paul Hessburg and Brad Smith
Management activities have altered spatial patterns of interior Northwest forests, and as a result, viability of some native terrestrial species is doubtful. Public land managers are increasingly under pressure to mold existing patterns to reflect conditions more typical of native biophysical environments and disturbance regimes. Knowledge of recent historical spatial patterns is not particularly helpful in predicting future landscape patterns; but it is useful to understanding conditions more tolerable to native species. Subwatersheds on the east slope of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State were grouped by similarity of areas in potential vegetation types, temperature, precipitation, and solar radiation classes using hierarchical clustering techniques. Continuous historical and current vegetation maps were built for 48 randomly selected subwatersheds from interpretations of 1938-1949 and 1985-1993 aerial photos, respectively, and modeled and attributed cover types, structural classes, and series-level potential vegetation types to individual patches. Historical variation in spatial patterns of sampled subwatersheds of five ecological subregions was quantified using a suite of class and landscape metrics.
Resource managers in the Northern Cascades ecoregion can now compare existing patterns of any given subwatershed, with corresponding subregion historical variation estimates to better estimate departure of existing conditions from variability typical of recent historical conditions. In the interior Columbia River Basin midscale assessment, change in vegetation spatial patterns was summarized to province scale land units (Ecological Reporting Units). It was at times difficult to determine where sample variation in an Ecological Reporting Unit ended, and change began. It is now possible to partition variation in biophysical environment conditions, and tease out changes unique to ecological subregions. While a daunting future task, more robust estimates will eventually come from assessing variation in spatial patterns for greater time depths using both empirical and modeling approaches.
Title: Multi-scale Assessment of Dynamics
Presenter: Robert Keane
Spatially-explicit, dynamic succession modeling across multiple spatial scales using two deterministic-stochastic models was used to evaluate the consequences of land management practices on landscape and vegetation composition and structure. The Columbia River Basin succession Model (CRBSUM) was used to simulate broad-scale landscape changes across the entire interior Columbia River Basin at 1 km pixel resolution. The LANDscape succession Model (LANDSUM) was used to model succession across fine scale landscapes using the same successional modeling logic as CRBSUM but at a polygon-level rather than a pixel level. Successional dynamics are modeled using a multiple pathway approach where successional community types, called succession classes, are linked along pathways converging to a stable community type called a Potential Vegetation Type. Each succession class is described by a cover type and structural stage. Disturbance is stochastically modeled as a change in cover type or structural stage using probabilities that reflect possible management actions or natural events. These models were used to simulate successional dynamics under two management scenarios for four landscapes hierarchically nested in space -- the interior Columbia River Basin, the central Idaho Mountains, Salmon National Forest, and the South Forth of July Creek Drainage. Model results were compared to assess how effects of management actions are translated across spatial scales.
Title: Summary and Conclusions
Presenter: Robert Keane
At the start of the scientific assessment of the Basin four questions were posed for the landscape assessment: 1) Within the Basin, what are the status and trends of landscape processes and functions; what are the causal agents responsible for these trends? 2) In what capacity will current and future landscape disturbance regimes affect landscape patterns and biophysical potentials; in response to landscape management strategies, what are the probable trends of disturbance regimes for the future? 3) What are the historical and probable future trends of landscape elements important to amenity and commodity resource flows; how will these trends differ under various landscape management strategies? and 4) What are the probable trends of functions and processes for various landscape management futures; what will be the opportunities, tradeoffs, and consequences of these management futures with respect to biogeochemical processes, carbon-nutrient cycling, and long-term productivity?
The questions were answered at scales of space and time appropriate for the assessment of the Basin. This provides information that can be used for strategic purposes, but does not provide site-specific answers. The queston was also asked if the landscape assessment was necessary to answer the questions. The answer is two-fold: questions could have been answered that focused on parts of the landscape system; complex multi-scaled questions could not have been answered, nor could have the complex ecological relationships and differences between traditional and ecological management strategies been understood. In addition, substantial developments were made in the technology of landscape assessment and simulation of management options.
TERRESTRIAL ECOLOGY RELATIONS and SPECIES STATUS
Presenter: Bruce Marcot
The Terrestrial Ecology Staff of the Science Integration Team: analyzed the historic and current status of plants and animals, particularly their habitats; identified areas of species rarity, endemism, and biodiversity ("hot spots"); evaluated the broad-scale biogeography of species (major) biophysical reasons for species distributions); assessed the contribution of natural areas to species and ecosystems conservation; analyzed ecological functions of species; identified species of interest to American Indian tribes; evaluated the status and conditions of threatened, endangered, candidate, and sensitive species and their habitats; and identified further information needs for inventory, monitoring, and research. Species Task Group Leaders specifically assessed fungi, lichens, bryophytes, and vascular plants; invertebrates, including insects and other arthropods, mollusks, and soil micro-organisms; and vertebrates, including amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Evaluation of effects of management strategies on terrestrial species was overseen by terrestrial co-lead John Lehmkuhl.
Title: Fungi, Lichens, and Vascular Plants
Presenter: Steve Shelly and Lisa Croft
Plants are the most ubiquitous and taxonomically diverse macroorganisms in the interior Columbia River Basin. They function as prime producers and as such are the most critical components in the maintenance of dynamic, functional ecosystems. Plants provide foods for animals, stabilize watershed functions, provide habitat and cover for numerous organisms and provide a variety of other critical ecological functions, such as nitrogen fixation. In addition, plants provide the foundation for the economic and social fabric in the Basin. Commercial resources critical to the region's economy are provided by plants, including timber, forage, and special forest products.
Presenter: Roger Sandquist
A general background on functional groups of invertebrates in the interior Columbia River Basin and how they affect sustainability and productivity of their ecological communities is presented. The functional groups include detritivores, predators, pollinators, and grassland and forest herbivores. How biodiversity and ecosystem function can be retained is discussed in relation to composition and structural diversity, soil structure and chemistry, and the prevention or eradication of exotic organisms.
Presenter: Bob Naney
The assessment area contains 26 species of amphibians, 27 reptiles, 283 birds, and 132 mammals. Eight species are Federally listed as threatened or endangered and 158 total species are listed by Federal agencies as sensitive. Habitat associations, ecological functions, threats to conservation, and further monitoring and study needs were identified for each species group. Ecological functions of terrestrial vertebrates variously include nutrient transfer and cycling, improvements to soil structure, insect pest control, dispersing of seeds and spores, and plant pollination; many functions enhance overall diversity, productivity, and sustainability of forest, shrubland, and grassland ecosystems. Threats to conservation variously include loss of wetlands, livestock grazing, exotic species, fire supression activities, harvesting of old-growth forests, increased access to remote areas, and other factors. Some of the declining species to watch include western boral toad, northern leopard frog, short-horned lizard, western pond turtle, loggerhead shrike, western sage grouse, most large carnivores, many bats, and others. Amphibians and reptiles cannot be evaluated accurately at the broad scale, and lack of field information on many species' populations and ecology hindered assessments. Results are presented on selected species groups including Neotropical migratory birds, bats, carnivores, and ungulates.
Title: Species Functions and Evolutionary Trends
Presenter: Bruce Marcot
Wildlife species associated with native grasslands, native shrublands, and old single- and multi-layer forests have declined the most within the basin assessment area. Total biodiversity consists of an estimated 43,825 species of macro-organisms (but only 39% of these are known from surveys or studies). These include an estimated 18,946 species of plants and allies, 24,270 species of invertebrates, and 609 species of vertebrates. Also present are hundreds of thousands of species of micro-organisms. 1,339 species and 143 species groups were included in a species-environment relations database, which includes depictions of each species' key environmental correlates and key ecological functions. Key ecological functions of species include nutrient cycling, pollination vectors, aids to dispersal of plants and invertebrates, wood decomposition, and many other categories. Many functions are critical to ecosystem diversity, productivity, and sustainability. Numerous concentration centers and 19 hot spots of high biodiversity and species rarity and endemism were identified. The following might be addressed in an ecosystem management context: key ecological functions of specifies as affecting productivity and sustainability, key environmental correlates for maintaining species at risk, and conditions necessary for maintaining evolutionary potential of species and ecological integrity of terrestrial ecosystems. Bioindicators for monitoring and further research needs were also identified.
Title: Analyzing the Effects of Ecosystem Management Strategies on Terrestrial Species in the Interior Columbia River Basin
Presenter: John Lehmkuhl
The degree to which strategies for ecosystem management on lands administered by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management within the interior Columbia River Basin would contribute to the long-term (100 years) viability of plant and animal species were assessed. The analysis was a component of the Integrated Scientific Asessment and the Evaluation of EIS Alternatives. The effectiveness of 3 strategies was assessed: 1) Continuing traditional management would use existing multiple-use management plans and current levels of activity. Timber and forage production would be emphasized, while integrating other values. 2) An active and aggressive restoration strategy would focus on short-term vegetation management to restore or maintain ecosystem integrity over the long-term. Reducing current risk from fire, insect, and disease would be a primary objective. 3) A regional reserve network strategy would create reserves that included 20% of all vegetation types over 42% of the FS/BLM lands in the Basin. Management inside reserves would emphasize natural processes, whereas management outside reserves would resemble the restoration strategy. Eight panels of scientists were convened to judge the likelihood of viability outcomes for 173 selected species of potential regional conservation concern under historical and current conditions and under future strategies. Viability outcomes represented 5 patterns of habitat distribution of federal lands: contiguous, gaps, patchy, isolated, and scarce. Details of analytical methods and results are presented in subsequent sessions.
Title: Methods of Data analysis and reporting the Effects of Ecosystem Management Strategies on Terrestrial Species in the Interior Columbia River Basin
Presenter: Marty Raphael
An expert-panel process was used to evaluate likelihoods that habitat conditions would support viable populations of plants and vertebrates in the planning area. Species were scored for each of 5 habitat outcome levels. Outcome levels were weighed by likelihood scores to compute an expected mean outcome. The spread of scores among outcomes and variation of scores among panelists were used to compute the standard deviation of the mean outcome, a measure of uncertainty. The results were summarized in several ways. First, the mean outcome for each species was reported and the numbers of species in each of the 5 outcome levels was totalled for each planning theme or scenario. Second, whether species' outcomes had shifted from current conditions to future conditions under each planning scenario was examined and numbers of species tallied whose habitat conditions were projected to have improved, stayed the same, or decreased. Finally, patterns of uncertainty and patterns among species groups and among planning scenarios were examined and compared.
Title: The Potential Effects of Ecosystem Management Strategies on Birds in the Interior Columbia River Basin
Presenter: Marty Raphael
The likelihood that habitat conditions would support viable populations of 82 species of birds that occur within the interior Columbia River Basin was evaluated. Species were selected for assessment based on being broadly distributed in the area, having some evidence of decline in habitat or populations, or being the object of special management concern. Historic and current habitat conditionswere compared to habitat projected under three management strategies: continue current (traditional) management, emphasize habitat restoration, and emphasize habitat reserves. Nearly all species were found to have declined from historic numbers. Further declines are projected if current practices are continued. Under a restoration strategy, habitat conditions are expected to improve for some species and to decline for a smaller number of species. Similar patterns are expected under a reserve strategy. Birds associated with riparian, native grassland, and late-successional habitats were most sensitive to differences among the management strategies.
Title: The Potential Effects of Ecosystem Management Strategies on Mammals, Amphibians, and Reptiles in the Interior Columbia River Basin
Presenter: Randy Hickenbottom
The likelihood that habitat conditions would support viable populations of 20 species of mammals, 7 species of amphibians, and 12 species of reptiles that occur within the interior Columbia River Basin was evaluated. Species were selected for assessment based on being broadly distributed in the area, having some evidence of decline in habitat or populations, or being the object of special management concern. Historic and current habitat conditions were compared to habitat projected under three management strategies: continue current (traditional) management, emphasize habitat restoration, and emphasize habitat reserves. Nearly all species were found to have declined from historic numbers. Further declines are projected if current practices are continued. Under a restoration strategy, habitat conditions are expected to improve for some species and to decline for a smaller number of species. Similar patterns are expected under a reserve strategy. Species associated with riparian, native grassland, and late-successional habitats were more sensitive to differences among the management strategies.
Title: The Potential Effects of Ecosystem Management Strategies on Vascular Plant Species in the Interior Columbia River Basin
Presenter: Steve Shelly and Lisa Croft
Within the interior Columbia River Basin, there are 173 vascular plant species that are of conservation concern on a range-wide basis. Twenty-eight of these plants, including three species that are currently federally listed under the Endangered Species Act, were evaluated with respect to the potential effects of ecosystem management strategies on future habitat and population conditions. These species could be evaluated at the broad scale of the assessment because 1) they have a broader geographic distribution pattern in the Basin, or 2) they occur in common vegetation types such that the effects of ecosystem management in these types could be estimated. One additional federally listed plant species was found in the Basin since the initial analysis; this species occurs in riparian habitats, and is not expected to decrease from current levels owing to proposed riparian standards and the requirement to protect federally listed species. The remaining 144 plants are either narrowly endemic in their distributions, or are associated with highly specialized habitats; as such, the effects on habitat for these species can only be meaningfully assessed at finer planning scales. The general trend for the 28 plants that were initially analyzed has been a decline in habitat integrity from historic conditions to the present.
With respect to future conditions under various ecosystem management strategies, however, the habitat integrity for most of these plants is predicted to remain relatively unchanged at these reduced levels, with some modest improvements predicted under a restoration approach. For species that are associated with early- to mid-seral habitat conditions, restoration is expected to have positive effects (e.g., through the creation of canopy openings via silvicultural treatments or prescribed burning). These species occur primarily in forest and shrubland habitats. A reserve strategy may not benefit certain of these species, owing to the effects of advancing succession in some cases. Species of late-seral communities, such as Palouse grasslands or mature forests, are expected to remain relatively stable on federal lands if appropriate mitigation measures are applied during the implementation of ecosystem management. The critical role that federal lands play as refugia for the remaining habitats of such species is emphasized. There are many other plant species that, while secure on a rangewide level, are rare at the state or regional levels in the Basin. Conservation of these species of local concern is also an important consideration, as their peripheral or disjunct populations may be ecologically or genetically divergent. Under all ecosystem management strategies, the existing laws and policies for the conservation of federally listed and sensitive species should serve to mitigate effects on plant species of both rangewide and local conservation concern.
Title: Summary and discussion: The Potential Effects of Ecosystem Management Strategies on Terrestrial Species in the Interior Columbia River Basin
Presenter: John Lehmkuhl
The historical distribution of viability outcomes provided a baseline from which to compare the current and potential future conditions. Currently, nearly twice the species have relatively unfavorable Outcomes 4 (isolated) and 5 (scarce) compared to the historical distribution of those outcomes. Continuing traditional management would result in more species in those outcomes and continue the decline of overall viability. The restoration and reserve strategies would do equally well in reversing the currrent decline in species viability by reducing the number of species in unfavorable outcomes by about 30%, but would not reach the historical level. The majority of species would have no significant change in viability outcome under the three strategies. All strategies show decreasing viability for some species; traditional management would result in decreasing viability for about twice the number of species than would the other strategies. Restoration and reserve strategies would be equally effective in increasing viability for species. Those species with potential viability risk were estimated as being those species wth the least favorable mean scores or those with at least 20 likelihood points in Outcome 5. Species in that category wee also tallied that showed a significant negative change in mean outcome from current conditions. Currrently, there are about twice as many species with "risky" outcomes compared to the historical numbers, and many species scores showed a significant decline. Continuing current management would continue that trend. Restoratin and reserve strategies would potentially reverse the trend.
Title: Broad-scale Condition and Trend in Source Habitat for Terrestrial Vertebrates of Concern in the Interior Columbia River Basin
Presenter: Mike Wisdom
Forests and rangelands of the interior Columbia River Basin have undergone dramatic, broad-scale changes in the composition and structure of vegetation during the past 100-150 years. As a result, habitat for a variety of terrestrial vertebrates has changed remarkably. The efffects of these changes on source habitat were assessed for over 120 species of concern. Species of concern were identified using a variety of criteria, including prior results of a viability assessment. For each species, expert opinion was used to identify source habitat, which was defined as habitat that contributes to positive or stable population growth, considering all combinations of cover types and structural stages present in the Basin. Species were then clustered into 30-40 groups based on similarities in source habitat. Amount and distribution of source habitat for each group was characterized for historic (100-150 year-old) and current landscapes at a variety of large scales, ranging from the entire interior Columbia River Basin (145 million acres) to areas as small as 15,000 acres. Preliminary results indicate that species and groups dependent on native grasslands, on native shrublands, or on old forest structural stages have experienced substantial change in source habitat. These results are presented at multiple spatial scales and management implications are discussed.
Title: Joint panel on Terrestrial Ecology Assessment and EIS Analysis-What do our findings imply for management?
Moderator: Bruce Marcot
1). Based on the findings, should management focus on species or systems, or some combinations? Is this the same for plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates?
2). How can all the facets of the ecological assessment findings -- particularly on fungi, lichens, bryophytes, rare plants, invertebrates, ecosystem processes, and on species' key ecological functions -- be analyzed and used in EIS alternatives?
3). What terrestrial ecology findings learned from previous major assessments, such as FEMAT, can held guide the application of the analysis findings?
4). How important is it to conduct additional inventories and field studies? How critical are the scientific uncertainties and unknowns in terms of adding risk to ecosystem management?