A Review of Stream Restoration Techniques and a Hierarchical Strategy for Prioritizing Restoration in Pacific Northwest Watersheds

Roni, P., T.J. Beechie, R.E. Bilby, F.E. Leonetti, M.M. Pollack and G.R. Pess

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The hierarchical strategy we present is based on three elements: (1) principles of watershed processes, (2) protecting existing high-quality habitats, and (3) current knowledge of the effectiveness of specific techniques. Initially, efforts should focus on protecting areas with intact processes and high-quality habitat. Following a watershed assessment, we recommend that restoration focus on reconnecting isolated high-quality fish habitats, such as instream or off-channel habitats made inaccessible by culverts or other artificial obstructions. Once the connectivity of habitats within a basin has been restored, efforts should focus on restoring hydrologic, geologic (sediment delivery and routing), and riparian processes through road decommissioning and maintenance, exclusion of livestock, and restoration of riparian areas. Instream habitat enhancement (e.g., additions of wood, boulders, or nutrients) should be employed after restoring natural processes or where short-term improvements in habitat are needed (e.g., habitat for endangered species). Finally, existing research and monitoring is inadequate for all the techniques we reviewed, and additional, comprehensive physical and biological evaluations of most watershed restoration methods are needed.

Resource Type:
Peer-reviewed Article

North American Journal of Fisheries Management