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Ecological health of river basins in forested regions of eastern Washington and Oregon.Author(s): Robert C. Wissmar; Jeanette E. Smith; Bruce A. McIntosh; Hiram W. Li; Gordon H. Reeves; James R. Sedell
Source: Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-326. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 65 p. (Everett, Richard L., assessment team leader; Eastside forest ecosystem health assessment; Hessburg, Paul F., science team leader and tech. ed., Volume III: assessment.)
Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)
Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
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DescriptionA retrospective examination of the history of the cumulative influences of past land and water uses on the ecological health of select river basins in forest regions of eastern Washington and Oregon indicates the loss of fish and riparian habitat diversity and quality since the 19th century. A physiographic framework of the eastern Washington and Oregon in terms of spatial and temporal geologic, climatic and hydrologic conditions provides a regional perspective for reviewing influences of human patterns of settlement, resource development and management on the river basins. The study focuses on impacts of timber harvest, fire management, livestock grazing, mining and irrigation management practices on stream and riparian ecosystems. Extensive reviews of ecosystem damage and fish losses caused by hydroelectric and large irrigation projects, highway and railroad construction and other factors are beyond the scope of this analysis but are summarized. Case histories of the chronology of natural resource uses and health of select river basins, the Okanogan, Methow and Little Naches River basins (Cascade Mountains of Washington) and the Grande Ronde and John Day River basins (northeastern and central Oregon) show that during European settlement period livestock grazing, mining, and irrigation developments were the major land and water uses impacting streams and riparian ecosystems. After the 1940s, timber harvest, road construction and irrigation were the major management impacts. The examination of past environmental management approaches for assessing stream, riparian, and watershed conditions in forest regions shows numerous advantages and shortcomings. The select management approaches include: instream flow incremental methodology (IFIM) for the evaluation of the effect of water diversion on steam flows and salmonid habitats; the equivalent clear-cut method (ECA) for assessing the hydrologic effects of logging; a watershed cumulative effects model (KWCEA) for evaluating the effects of logging and roads on soil loss; and procedures for addressing soil compaction problems. The study concludes by providing recommendations for ecosystem management with emphasis on monitoring and restoration activities.
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CitationWissmar, Robert C.; Smith, Jeanette E.; McIntosh, Bruce A.; Li, Hiram W.; Reeves, Gordon H.; Sedell, James R. 1994. Ecological health of river basins in forested regions of eastern Washington and Oregon. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-326. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 65 p. (Everett, Richard L., assessment team leader; Eastside forest ecosystem health assessment; Hessburg, Paul F., science team leader and tech. ed., Volume III: assessment.)
KeywordsHistory, land uses, rivers, streams, riparian, salmonid, timber, livestock, irrigation, water
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