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A Spatially Explicit Decision Support System for Watershed-Scale Management of Salmon

E. Ashley Steel, NW Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries, 2725 Montlake Blvd East, Seattle, Washington, USA 98112
Aimee Fullerton, NW Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries, 2725 Montlake Blvd East, Seattle, Washington, USA 98112
Yuko Caras, NW Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries, 2725 Montlake Blvd East, Seattle, Washington, USA 98112
Mindi B. Sheer, NW Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries, 2725 Montlake Blvd East, Seattle, Washington, USA 98112
Patricia Olson, Pacific Watershed Institute, Olympia, Washington, USA 98504; Washington State Department of Ecology, PO Box 47600, Olympia, Washington, USA 98504
David Jensen, NW Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries, 2725 Montlake Blvd East, Seattle, Washington, USA 98112
Jennifer Burke, NW Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries, 2725 Montlake Blvd East, Seattle, Washington, USA 98112; School of Ocean and Fisheries Science, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA 98119
Michael Maher, NW Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries, 2725 Montlake Blvd East, Seattle, Washington, USA 98112; Steward and Associates, 120 A, Suite d, Snohomish, Washington, USA 98290
Paul McElhany, NW Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries, 2725 Montlake Blvd East, Seattle, Washington, USA 98112

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Abstract

Effective management for wide-ranging species must be conducted over vast spatial extents, such as whole watersheds and regions. Managers and decision makers must often consider results of multiple quantitative and qualitative models in developing these large-scale multispecies management strategies. We present a scenario-based decision support system to evaluate watershed-scale management plans for multiple species of Pacific salmon in the Lewis River watershed in southwestern Washington, USA. We identified six aquatic restoration management strategies either described in the literature or in common use for watershed recovery planning. For each of the six strategies, actions were identified and their effect on the landscape was estimated. In this way, we created six potential future landscapes, each estimating how the watershed might look under one of the management strategies. We controlled for cost across the six modeled strategies by creating simple economic estimates of the cost of each restoration or protection action and fixing the total allowable cost under each strategy. We then applied a suite of evaluation models to estimate watershed function and habitat condition and to predict biological response to those habitat conditions. The concurrent use of many types of models and our spatially explicit approach enables analysis of the trade-offs among various types of habitat improvements and also among improvements in different areas within the watershed. We report predictions of the quantity, quality, and distribution of aquatic habitat as well as predictions for multiple species of species-specific habitat capacity and survival rates that might result from each of the six management strategies. We use our results to develop four on-the-ground watershed management strategies given alternative social constraints and manager profiles. Our approach provides technical guidance in the study watershed by predicting future impacts of potential strategies, guidance on strategy selection in other watersheds where such detailed analyses have not been completed, and a framework for organizing information and modeled predictions to best manage wide-ranging species.

Key words

Chinook salmon; endangered species; habitat suitability; recovery planning; riparian; sediment routing.
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087