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Healthy Watersheds Protection

Healthy Watersheds Projects in Region 9

Serving AZ, CA, HI, NV, and Pacific Islands

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Region-wide Projects

Users' Guide for the Rapid Assessment of the Functional Condition of Stream-Riparian Ecosystems in the American Southwest (PDF) (56 pp, 2.95 MB) Combinations of up to seven indicators in five different ecological categories (water quality, fluvial geomorphology, aquatic and fish habitat, vegetation composition and structure and terrestrial wildlife habitat) are used to generate numeric scores in this Rapid Stream Riparian Assessment. The scores rank the level of disturbance to natural processes in riparian systems and their habitat complexity.

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Arizona Projects

Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan The Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan integrates all natural resource protection and land use planning activities into one plan that reflects community values.

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California Projects

California’s Healthy Watersheds Partnership The Healthy Streams Partnership (HSP) is an interagency workgroup of the California Water Quality Monitoring Council. The mission of the HSP is to promote the protection of California’s healthy streams and the restoration of threatened and impaired streams by providing timely and accurate information directly useful for resource management decisions and actions. The HSP participated in the development of the EPA Healthy Watersheds Program funded California Integrated Assessment of Watershed Health (PDF) (118 pp, 8.5MB) 

California Integrated Assessment of Watershed Health (PDF) (118 pp, 8.5MB) The EPA Healthy Watersheds Program and California’s Healthy Streams Partnership conducted an integrated assessment of relative watershed health throughout California. Six metrics describing structural watershed characteristics relevant to aquatic ecosystem health were quantified from GIS layers for each NHDPlus catchment in the state. An additional six stream condition metrics (chemical constituent concentrations, physical habitat index scores, etc.) were quantified for NHDPlus catchments in non-arid regions using statistical models.

The models predicted values of stream health metrics based on a catchment’s land cover, soil attributes, topography and other landscape variables. Metrics were combined into a Watershed Condition Index and a Stream Health Index and scores across the state were mapped to highlight priority areas for protection.

To complement the analysis of watershed health, eleven metrics describing the vulnerability of California watersheds to future climate, land use and water use change and wildfire risk were selected and quantified for NHDPlus catchments throughout the state. Vulnerability metrics were combined into a Watershed Vulnerability Index and index scores were mapped to further prioritize protection of watersheds that are healthy but vulnerable to future degradation.

California Watershed Assessment Manual The California Watershed Assessment Manual (CWAM) is an example of a statewide effort to develop a framework for conducting holistic watershed assessments and a set of tools to communicate the approach to local watershed groups, local and state agencies and others. The manual outlines data sources and methods for assessing multiple ecological attributes, including: landscape condition; aquatic habitat extent and condition; fluvial geomorphology; hydrology; water quality; and biological condition.

Sacramento River Basin Report Card & Technical Report: Feather River Watershed (PDF) (205 pp, 26.7 MB, About PDF)  The Sacramento River Basin Report card was developed using a stakeholder-driven identification of goals and selection of indicators to evaluate attainment of those goals. The condition of the Sacramento River Basin's subwatersheds was assessed based on the 16 selected indicators (including natural and human processes) and a multimetric index that combines the indicators. Trends over time were also evaluated to determine whether conditions are improving or worsening for the different goals identified by the stakeholders. Results are presented in a report card format for easy interpretation by both the public and decision makers.

Ecosystem Values of Watersheds in Southern California  The Council for Watershed Health, formerly the Los Angeles & San Gabriel Rivers Watershed Council, performed an assessment of the health of the Arroyo Seco watershed, a tributary to the Los Angeles River. The science-based systematic assessment resulted in a report card designed to reveal the health of the environment and communities in the Southern California region.

The first step in the assessment framework involved the generation of a menu of indicators based on a systematic review of the essential ecological, social and economic attributes of watersheds in the assessment area. Next, those indicators were populated with appropriate measures that reveal the condition of the features of the indicator. Using the measures, each indicator was then described for its current condition, the trend of its condition over time and the certainty of those descriptions given the measures that were utilized in the assessment. Finally, a report was issued that describes each step of the process as decisions were made, stakeholders were included and the research and assessment was conducted.

California Rapid Assessment Method (CRAM) The California Rapid Assessment Method is designed for use in monitoring wetland health and assessing the effectiveness of wetland and riparian restoration projects. CRAM can be applied to seven main types of wetlands (riverine and riparian, lacustrine, depressional, estuarine, wet meadows, vernal pools and playas). A 1-3 hour field assessment is used to generate a wetland condition score. The maximum CRAM score possible represents the best condition that is likely to be achieved for the type of wetland being assessed based on landscape context, hydrology, physical structure and biotic structure.

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Nevada Projects

Habitat Protection for the Las Vegas Wash Nevada’s Las Vegas Wash Coordination Committee was developed to restore and enhance riparian areas and the ecological resources within the Las Vegas Wash.

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