Watershed Restoration Research on the West Coast
Watershed research to support the recovery of Pacific Salmon and other at-risk species.
Our Watershed Restoration research focuses on improving restoration practices to help accelerate recovery of Pacific salmon and steelhead listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
Developing and implementing effective watershed restoration and salmon recovery plans involve:
- Creating detailed assessments of habitats and watershed processes.
- Identifying crucial habitat impairments.
- Identifying limiting factors and restoration opportunities.
- Choosing suitable restoration techniques, prioritizing restoration actions.
- Designing restoration projects.
- Monitoring restoration effectiveness.
- Determining the amount of restoration needed to achieve biological objectives.
Within the Center’s Watershed Program, we developed the science and tools to guide restoration planning. Our research products address three major topic areas:
- Restoration planning
- Assessments and problem identification
- Restoration for a changing climate
Prioritizing Restoration Actions
Effective watershed restoration involves prioritizing restoration actions across watersheds, within watersheds, or even within sub-watersheds or stream reaches. This step follows the assessment of watershed processes and the identification of restoration opportunities. It often requires integrating stated objectives, incorporating physical and biological information, and weighing social-economic considerations.
We work with those funding and implementing watershed restoration to provide tools to prioritize restoration at different scales that are transparent, effective, and based on the best available science.
Monitoring Guidance and Tools
Watershed restoration is a global industry with thousands of projects implemented every year in the US alone. Practitioners and researchers have repeatedly noted the need to better monitor and evaluate watershed restoration. Yet only a small fraction of projects are ever monitored for effectiveness.
There are two reasons for this lack of monitoring.
- Limited guidance on the best approaches for monitoring individual and multiple projects at reach and watershed scales.
- A lack of streamlined methods to most efficiently measure physical and biological conditions.
The Center’s Watershed Program scientists have developed tools and guidance to more effectively monitor restoration success to assist with this.
Understanding the effectiveness of restoration at different scales is critical for improving restoration, selecting appropriate restoration, and prioritizing restoration actions.
We evaluate various restoration techniques in both rivers and estuaries. We developed:
- Reviews of restoration effectiveness
- River restoration effectiveness
- Estuary restoration effectiveness
- Riparian restoration effectiveness
- Beaver ecology and habitat restoration