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Keywords:

  • GIS;
  • habitat modeling;
  • LWD;
  • riparian;
  • shade

Abstract

A combination of air-photo interpretation, field data, and Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis was used to map riparian areas that are likely to provide wood and shade to small- and medium-sized streams and where, conversely, restoration might be most beneficial. The analysis encompassed all salmonid-bearing waters of the Nooksack River basin, in northwest Washington State, plus small tributaries that were thought to contribute wood or effective shading. The size and composition of each riparian stand was examined to determine whether trees were large enough to contribute logs that would form pools in the adjacent channel, with pool-forming size of wood a function of channel width. Riparian stands were classified according to whether they passed this pool-forming test. Model results were an exact match to actual conditions in 69% of field-verified stands. A large proportion (74%) of the stands failing the test in reaches of anadromous fish use were in agricultural areas. Passing stands typically had high shade levels, because both stream shade and effective large woody debris size are a function of the size of the trees relative to the size of the stream. The GIS layer of passing and failing riparian stands can be combined with layers depicting property ownership, threatened fish distribution, and other information to objectively prioritize riparian restoration locations and strategies.