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BACKGROUND Information

to interpret site visit data


Water Quality (WQ)

1. Determine the status of perennial flow from historical literature, commentary, and site visit observations.

2. Water quality data collected previously in the reach. The regional hydrological flow synthesis should be used to quantify six essential water quality parameters: temperature, dissolved oxygen concentration, specific conductance, pH, salinity, and turbidity. Many southwestern streams are naturally turbid, so high turbidity may actually represent GC conditions for many streams. Additional data on alkalinity, total nitrogen, orthophosphate, sulfate, and bacterial content are useful. The similarity for each of the above WQ variables is calculated as 100 minus the percent difference from the control level (derived from the control reaches, or agency guidelines).  Biological anomalies (i.e., the absence of fish in apparently suitable streams) should be considered in light of the water quality synthesis.

3.     Condition of the upland watershed, determined from a rangeland health assessment, using the “Interpreting Indicators of Rangeland Health” protocol (Pellent et al. 2000).


Hydro/Geomorphology (HG)

1. Determine stream classification (e.g., Rosgen classification scheme).

2. Determine the flood history by analyzing the hydrograph, evaluating as many years of aerial photos as possible, and measuring the number and extent of changes in sinuosity.

3-6 . Several kinds of data are needed for hydrological analyses: a) the sources and

alteration of flow (spring-fed, snow-melt, dammed, diverted, or augmented) for the period of record and paleoflood analyses; b) precipitation data or estimates from a regional model for the field site are desirable to help determine flood frequency; c) streamflow data from the nearest gauge for the period of record are needed to determine the timing, duration, frequency, magnitude, and ramping rate of flows; d) drainage basin size at the field site is also likely to aid in interpretation of flood frequency.

7-8. Determine the geologic strata that surround and underlay the stream, and confirm office worksheet data in the field on first site visit.

 9. Determine the extent of beaver colonization of the study area from trapping records, scientific records, or other literature.


 Fish/Aquatic Habitat (F/AH)

1. Information on upstream and downstream barriers to fish movement.

2. Condition of aquatic habitat (instream and streambank), including the pool:riffle ratio if available

3. Presence or absence of key benthic invertebrates: has a survey been completed? Is a Biotic Condition Index (BCI) available?

4. Water temperature and streamflow data (especially during low summer flows)

5. Hydrophytic plant community types.

6. List known, historic, or suspected fish (native & non-native) in the reach, including estimates of abundance, if available.

7. History of management activities in the study reach.


Riparian Vegetation (RV)

1. List of prominent species/community types expected in reach (including sensitive species), based on elevation, and geologic substrate.

2. Historical vegetation cover by zone (LRZ, URZ) should be quantified from historical photos, interviews, etc., if possible.

3. Degree of ungulate impact to riparian zone (riparian forage utilization studies).

4. Distribution and abundance of non-native plant species: identify which species are non-native, their ecological role and threat(s) to the ecosystem. Identify which non-native species are invading the region and pose future threats.

5. History of riparian management activities.


Wildlife/Habitat (WH)

1.   List of expected and known sensitive, indicator, and federally listed species

2.   History of beaver presence in the region and in the study reaches.

3.   Determine habitat configuration/connectivity changes over time (use aerial photos and historical photos to assess habitat fragmentation over time)

4.   Data on past wildlife management activities in the riparian study area


Human Activities/Impacts (HA)

1. Dewatering data and stream regulation data are needed. Determine the frequency at which water is completely or partially removed from stream or spring, or regulated to the point where little to no water flows.

2. Information on how stream morphology may have been altered in the past is needed, including dikes, dams, diversions, roads, bridges, and other developments.

3. Grazing history, livestock capacity, utilization, season of use, AUM’s permitted in AMP’s, actual and reported use, etc.

4. Route and road history.