Habitat actions are considered a cornerstone of recovery strategies for Columbia River Basin fish stocks but there is a need to more clearly determine the effectiveness of these actions for increasing salmonid survival rates and production. Monitoring designs for evaluating the effectiveness of habitat actions must be able to reliably detect two linked responses:
- the effect of habitat actions on fish habitat; and
- the effect of changes in fish habitat on fish populations
There are, however, serious challenges to the development of generic templates for habitat effectiveness monitoring. These include:
- Habitat conditions vary greatly across subbasins in terms of their natural biogeoclimatic regimes, the status of their fish populations, and the degree of human impact and management.
- The number and nature of restoration actions that have been implemented, or are being considered for implementation within them, varies greatly.
- Habitat effectiveness questions encompass different scales of inquiry, which imply different scales of monitoring.
Given these challenges, the Habitat Actions Workgroup is (instead of a developing a generic template) attempting to develop a consistent process that can be applied to the development of individual monitoring designs dependent on the particular situation. This consistent process is being tested on a pilot basis in Idaho's Lemhi Subbasin.