For more information on species & ecosystem science:

Wildlife Science
360-902-2515
wildthing@dfw.wa.gov

Fish Science
360-902-2700
fishpgm@dfw.wa.gov

Habitat Science
360-902-2534
habitatprogram@dfw.wa.gov

 
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Off-Channel Habitat Inventories

Survey Methodology and Data Limitations

North Sound Off Channel Habitat Sites

Survey Methodology

In the Skagit River basin, the WRIA and supplemental maps of Johnson (1986) were used in conjunction with current aerial photos and topographic maps to locate probable areas where off-channel type habitat could exist. Referrals were also taken from other professional biologists working in the area. Probable areas or sites were then searched on foot usually by walking up the mapped and identified streams. Work in this basin began in about 1990 and was complete in 2002. The same procedure was followed in the Stillaguamish River Basin except there were no supplemental surveys from which to work. Work also began here in 1990 but was incomplete when funding for the program expired in 2003. Areas excluded from consideration were those likely to be flooded in a two-year flood event. Off-channel areas were followed and mapped to the 20% gradient criteria that was assumed to be the end of the anadromous zone (WDFW 2000).

When a site was found, it was given a unique identification code. The first two alpha characters describe the principal named stream. The next numeric is the reach number on that stream as assigned by principal topographic breaks. The next alpha code is either “RB” or “LB” for right or left bank facing downstream. The last numeric is the sequential number of that site found on that bank.

Map of North Sound Off Channel Habitat and Salmonid Distribution
Click on map to enlarge

Specific habitat and description information was collected at each site including physical site measurements, assessment of habitat quality, and location using a traditional legal definition (section, township and range) and Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates. The GPS point was the confluence of the off-channel flow with the known or previously identified stream. Sufficient information was also taken to later draw a detailed map of the site. The completed field form, hand drawn map, marked location on a USGS topographic map and an aerial photograph are all attached to the site identification code as seen in the Arcview map document file.

Data Limitations

Information was collected over about a 13 year time period and earlier data was seldom rechecked in later years. Therefore, all site descriptions and maps reflect conditions at a point in time and accuracy now or at a later date cannot be confirmed. Refer to the dates on the field forms to ascertain application to your use. A new site visit may be necessary where critical habitat conditions occur or land use decisions are to be made. Changes in field staff through the survey period caused minor changes in protocol so data may be slightly inconsistent across all sites in the database. Dynamic changes in riverine habitat in some areas may also have caused changes in habitat conditions at some sites previously mapped. For these reasons, WDFW cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the data, changed conditions from those described or products produced from its use. Every effort was made to find all remnant bits of habitat previously undocumented but some were likely overlooked so this information represents the minimum area available. There are no warranties accompanying any of the information or map products. The user accepts this database “as is” with the understanding it was not produced for any purpose other than that stated above.

Olympic Peninsula Off Channel Habitat Sites

Map of North Coast Off Channel Habitat and Salmonid Distribution
Click on map to enlarge

Survey Methodology

Current aerial photos and topographic maps were used to locate probable areas where off-channel type habitat could exist. Referrals were also taken from other professional biologists working in the area. Probable areas or sites were then searched on foot usually by walking up the mapped and identified streams. Work in these basins began in 1987 and was suspended due to budget constraints in 2003. The earliest work in the Hoh and Clearwater basins only included the floodplains of the mainstems. Some of these sites are no longer in existence due to the meandering of the rivers, which reclaimed a few. These reclaimed sites do not appear in the data or the maps. As the inventory evolved, sites that appeared vulnerable to reclamation by the river were not considered for surveys. Later work on the other river basins included tributary floodplain habitat. In most cases, off-channel sites were followed and mapped to the 20% gradient criteria that was assumed to be the end of the anadromous zone (WDFW 2000).

When a site was found, it was given a unique identification code. The first one or two alpha characters describe the principal named stream. An alpha character follows that designates which bank of the stream is on (R or L, looking downstream). The next numeric is the reach number on that stream as assigned by principal topographic breaks. The last numeric is the sequential number of that site found on that bank. For example, S-L1-01 represents the first site on the left bank of the Sol Duc River.

As the inventory moved into tributaries, a different code was adopted since most streams were not named. We used the first letter of the named mainstem and followed that with the Water Resource Inventory Area number (WRIA) followed by R or L for right or left bank and ending with the sequential number in that group of sites. For example, B-0241L-01 represents the first site on the left bank of tributary number 20.0241, which is tributary to the Bogachiel River.

Specific habitat and description information was collected at each site including physical site measurements, assessment of habitat quality, and location using a traditional legal definition (section, township and range) and Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates. The GPS point was the confluence of the off-channel flow with the known or previously identified stream. Sufficient information was also taken to later draw a detailed map of the site. The finalized data sheets, hand drawn maps and USGS topographic maps are all attached to the site identification code as seen in the Arcview map document file.

Data Limitations

Information was collected over a 16 year time period. Due to funding cutbacks, the inventory was not completed on all tributaries so there are gaps in the data. The Elk Creek drainage on the Calawah river was intensively surveyed and mapped, but is not included. The PDF files for Elk Creek are available on request, but will not show on the maps. Many sites were rechecked at various times of the year to determine fish use, water flow and other anecdotal information. All site descriptions and maps reflect conditions at a point in time and accuracy now or later cannot be confirmed. Refer to the dates on the field forms to ascertain application to your use. A new site visit may be necessary where critical habitat conditions occur or land use decisions are to be made. Changes in field staff through the survey period caused minor changes in protocol so data may be slightly inconsistent across all sites in the database. Dynamic changes in riverine habitat in some areas may also have caused changes in habitat conditions at some sites previously mapped. For these reasons, WDFW cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the data, changed conditions from those described or products produced from its use. Every effort was made to find all remnant bits of habitat previously undocumented but some were likely overlooked so this information represents the minimum area available. There are no warranties accompanying any of the information or map products. The user accepts this database “as is” with the understanding it was not produced for any purpose other than that stated above.