Identifying Freshwater Conservation Areas (Key Watersheds) in Eastern Oregon
A critical element to the US Forest Service Aquatic and Riparian Conservation Strategy (ARCS) is the identification and designation of Key Watersheds. A network of Key Watersheds distributed throughout the region is designed to provide high quality habitat for aquatic species, most notably for native fish populations at risk. Previous delineations of Key Watersheds were determined primarily through expert opinion (USDA 1994). While expert opinion is necessary, new data sets and recent advances in regional conservation planning need to be considered. The proposed project will provide a more up-to-date, open, and systematic approach to identifying Key Watersheds in the PNW Region.
Recent advances in Systematic Conservation Planning (Margules and Pressey, 2000) provide a structured, efficient, and scientifically defensible conservation framework for locating priority geographic areas and conservation networks. Within this framework are key components, including: compiling data on the biodiversity of the planning region; identify conservation targets and goals; review existing conservation areas; and select additional conservation areas. Marxan is a conservation planning tool that is frequently used within this context. Marxan provides optimal solutions to creating conservation area networks based upon explicit conservation targets, goals, and suitability costs.
The recent development of broad-scale datasets that capture watershed condition and salmon population health provide new pictures of where Key Watersheds could be best placed. Watershed condition datasets developed from decision support models (Reeves, 2003) are available throughout Forest Service lands in the region. In addition, the Wild Salmon Center (WSC) and the North American Salmon Strongholds Partnership (NASSP) are collecting viability ratings of all salmon and steelhead populations throughout the lower 48 states.
- Marxan Conservation Decision Support
- Forest Service Key Watersheds
- Forest Service Watershed Condition Models