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Patterns of riparian policy standards in riverscapes of the Oregon Coast Range

Brett A. Boisjolie, Oregon State University, College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, Corvallis, OR, USA
Rebecca L. Flitcroft, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Corvallis, OR, USA
Mary V. Santelmann, Oregon State University, College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, Corvallis, OR, USA


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A riverscape perspective considers the ecological and social landscape of the river and its valley. In this context, we examined the spatial arrangement of protective policies for river networks. Riparian land-management standards are policy efforts that explicitly restrict certain management actions, e.g., timber harvest or land clearing, in stream-adjacent lands in order to protect water quality and aquatic habitat. In western Oregon, USA, management standards for riparian lands vary across federal, state, and private landownerships and land uses, projecting a patchwork of protective efforts across the landscape. The resulting variability in protection can complicate coordinated recovery efforts for threatened and endangered aquatic organisms, including migratory coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch), that rely on stream habitats throughout the river network. Using a geographic information system, we quantified the spatial distribution of riparian management standards at multiple spatial extents: across the entire Oregon Coast Range, within the region’s 84 HUC-10 watersheds, and in stream segments with high intrinsic potential to support coho salmon habitat. We found that the proportion of streams falling under protective efforts varied across watersheds in the region. In particular, watersheds containing streams of high intrinsic potential to support coho salmon habitat were associated with gaps in protective standards. By comparing the policy landscape to the biophysical landscape, our approach provides a novel framework for examining the spatial overlay of social and ecological concerns, and has direct relevance to assessments of population-scale restoration and recovery efforts.

Key words

coho salmon recovery; ecosystem management; fragmentation; Pacific Northwest; protective policy efforts; riparian management

Copyright © 2019 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087