Aquatic ecology -- Columbia River Watershed, Chinook salmon -- Columbia River Watershed, Aquatic habitats
Land use practices can be a contributing factor to environmental degradation and have been the focus of many ecological studies. One aspect that is less addressed is land use history and the effects that past practices, such as logging and grazing, can have on the current landscape. This paper describes research and the synthesis of material on the environmental history and watershed characteristics for three watersheds located within spawning and rearing areas for Chinook salmon in the Grande Ronde River Basin in Northeast Oregon: upper Grande Ronde River, Catherine Creek, and Minam River. The Grande Ronde Basin is critical spawning and rearing habitat for salmonids listed under the Endangered Species Act. The primary historical data sources for reconstructing 19th century stream and riparian conditions are the General Land Office township survey notes from 1863 - 1901. Data about the habitat conditions of the landscape were extracted from notes of each township survey source regarding vegetation, stream crossings, and other features found on the landscape in tabular and spatial forms. Data were organized to describe common stream and riparian conditions for the historical time period using a geographic information system. Watershed basin, Chinook salmon life history, ecoregion and surveyor were analyzed using multivariate techniques to determine which parameters were strongly connected to historical vegetation. Ecoregion had the strongest correlation with plant communities. For future research, these historical data could be compared to current habitat survey data, such as the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife’s Aquatic Habitat Inventories, to evaluate the degree of change over time of stream and riparian conditions.
"Historical Vegetation of Three Salmon-Bearing Watersheds in the Interior Columbia River Basin,"
PSU McNair Scholars Online Journal:
1, Article 4.