Assessment Questions

Most North Coast stakeholders agree that the interaction of intensive timber harvest activities and flood events in the last century caused significant impacts to salmonid habitat and that some of these impacts persist today. There is less agreement about whether current activities affect watershed conditions or impede recovery. The diversion of large quantities of water for residential and agricultural use from tributary streams has resulted in decreased streamflow, particularly in dry summer months, and the input of fine sediments and pollutants has reduced water quality in many streams. While it is beyond the scope of CWPAP to conduct controlled experiments of these interactions or to implement complex risk models, the program uses existing information, new data, and new analytical tools to answer the following questions:

What are the history and trends of the sizes, distribution, and relative health and diversity of salmonid populations within this subbasin?
What are the current salmonid habitat conditions in this subbasin? How do these conditions compare to desired conditions?
What are the relationships of geologic, vegetative, and fluvial processes to natural events and land use history?
How has land use affected these natural processes?
Based upon these conditions trends, and relationships, are there elements that could be considered to be limiting factors for salmon and steelhead production?
What habitat improvement activities would most likely lead toward more desirable conditions in a timely, cost effective manner?

These questions guide data compilation, collection and analysis for CWPAP and are the basis for developing conservation, protection, and restoration recommendations.