Unseen Science of 2014: #Conservation of #Aquatic and Fishery Resources in the #PacificNorthwest

In 1994, the Northwest Forest Plan to maintain habitat for northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) was brokered under the Clinton administration, changing how forest management was done on public lands of the Pacific Northwest. Along with the adoption of several spotted owl habitat provisions, including late successional reserves, the Northwest Forest Plan mandated the adoption of an aquatic conservation strategy (ACS; see Reeves et al. 2006). This conservation program created upwards of one million hectares of riparian reserve networks and listed watersheds as tiers based on their importance for different evolutionary units of salmonid species. The main goals of the ACS were to maintain riparian and aquatic habitats and the processes that create and maintain their functional diversity across the Northwest Forest Plan region. With a number of federal programs watching these habitats closely, 15 and 20-year reports have begun to be released, including the Aquatic and Riparian Effectiveness Monitoring Program (AREMP)

This year, the Coast Range Association, an Oregon non-profit that has served as a conservation watchdog prior to and following the Northwest Forest Plan, published a twenty year review of the aquatic conservation strategy. The Coast Range Association (CRA) is one of many groups who have kept an eye on the success of the aquatic conservation strategy. Their report, which was completed by an expert panel on riparian and aquatic science, found no grounds for reducing current riparian reserve sizes in areas designed to create habitat, buffer streams from temperature extremes, or maintain nutrient cycling. Disturbances pathways for streams and riparian forests, including roads and grazing were all criticized in their review. While the CRA has an agenda in conserving forest and aquatic resources of western Oregon, their review was well-put together, and if nothing else creates a discussion point between applied and basic researchers, land managers, and riparian forest stakeholders, including livestock and timber groups, fishermen and hunters, and conservation advocates.

The entire report is available here.

The summary and highlights are available here.

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