A Comparison of Approaches to Prioritizing Sites for Riparian Restoration


  • Mary E. Kentula

    1. U.S. EPA National Health and Environmental Effects Laboratory, Western Ecology Division, 200 SW 35th Street, Corvallis, OR 97333, U.S.A.
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This study compares the results of Olson and Harris (1997) and Russell et al. (1997) in their work to prioritize sites for riparian restoration in the San Luis Rey River watershed. Olson and Harris defined reaches of the mainstem and evaluated the relative potential for restoration and protection based on cover of natural vegetation, land use, and connectivity. Then they used data on geomorphic conditions, plant species composition, and community structure to prescribe strategies for restoration. Russell et al. used a modeling approach within a geographic information system to combine data on wetness and land use/land cover to identify areas with potential for protection and restoration. They prioritized the areas based on patch size and proximity to extant riparian habitat. The main-stem and associated floodplain defined by Olson and Harris was more than twice the size of the area defined by Russell et al., because Olson and Harris considered the entire valley floor, whereas Russell et al. used a wetness index to identify saturated zones within the floodplain. For seven of the twelve management units delineated along the mainstem, the two studies agreed on a strategy of restoration or protection. They differed on two. No comparison could be made of the three units for which Olson and Harris used project review, a unique category. Agreement of the results is due to the similarity of criteria used to identify and rank sites for protection and restoration; disagreement is due primarily to the level of resolution of the data. Both approaches have potential for use in watershed-level planning. The predictive power of the two approaches may be maximized when they are used in a complementary fashion.