Predominant restoration practices have changed several times in the last 30 years as a result of advances in watershed science. Still forthcoming in north coastal California, however, is a working strategy to comprehensively guide the allocation of resources toward large-scale and effective restoration. Stream clearance, instream habitat modification, and sediment source abatement all represent tactical approaches, whereby the goals are narrow, and the scope often local and short-term. Reliance on tactics without adequate strategy will inevitably lead to more waste of resources, more inability to evaluate the results of restoration effort, and more misunderstanding of cumulative effects (Frissell 1997). Without an adequate restoration strategy, no increases in expenditure and effort can ensure a decreased risk of extinction for salmonid stocks.
From a review of efforts to develop a regionally comprehensive restoration strategy (FEMAT 1993, Bradbury et al. 1995, The Pacific Rivers Council 1996, Spence et al. 1997), one can identify the basic elements of any restoration strategy:
1. Protect refuge areas: At both a regional and local watershed level, the best remaining habitats that support native salmonids should be a priority for protection and any necessary restoration treatment. Such refugia are critical for the recovery of populations because they provide source areas for recolonization.
2. Think process over structure: Instream habitat conditions are largely determined by watershed processes, and should not be manipulated independent of this context. Moreover, effective restoration treatments address the underlying processes of ecosystem deterioration and do not merely modify damaged areas to achieve short-term goals.
3. Protect source areas: As a function of cumulative watershed effects, headwater areas can influence aquatic habitat conditions along an entire river course, and are therefore a priority for protection and restoration.
4. Diffuse time bombs: Many habitats exist downstream from disturbed slopes that have not yet expressed their potential impact. Priority areas for recovery are those which are above prime habitat or refugia that will inevitably be triggered by a major storm or catastrophic event.
5. Maximize cost-effectiveness: The threat of extinction for some aquatic species and the insecurity of continued restoration funding intensifies the need for cost-effectiveness in restoration expenditure. Protection, in general, is more cost-effective than restoration. Strategic restoration of many small high quality habitats is usually more cost-effective than large efforts to restore one area.
6. Establish new policies that facilitate restoration of low-elevation floodplains, wetlands, and other critical aquatic habitats: Most such areas are held in private ownership and are unlikely to receive restoration treatment due to fears and lack of incentives. New policies should discourage channelization, revetment, debris removal, diking and draining, development, and other human activities that tend to impede floodplain function and the maintenance of habitat. Fiscal resources could be devoted to education, the development of improved regulatory policies, and provision of financial incentives for floodplain and wetland restoration.
Protection of relatively healthy areas is the most important first-step in any restoration strategy. Protection of refugia can be effective in the absence of restoration, but restoration can not be effective without protection of key habitats. Restoration should occur within a landscape context of protection from future degradation. Protection includes enforcement of environmental laws, acquisition or purchase of easements, implementation of best management techniques, and active measures to reduce the risk of future perturbation such as road-related treatments.
An overall strategy for protection and restoration of native fishes prioritizes river basins within a regional setting, and watersheds within the river basin setting, to obtain the greatest likelihood of preserving maximum species and life history diversity (Bradbury 1996). Priority river basins and watersheds are those critical areas identified as the best remaining examples of ecosystem types for at-risk aquatic species. Selection of such watersheds in coastal California could be adapted from methods used in Washington (Frissell et al. 2000), Oregon (IMST, 1999) and the Sierra Nevada (Moyle 1996).
An Ecosystem Approach
Pacific salmon use a variety of habitats throughout their life history and thereby depend on many different expressions of ecosystem function. Complexity in salmon-habitat interactions has severely limited scientists' ability to predict salmon population response to environmental change. The only solvent approach to protection and restoration of salmon populations addresses the overall ecosystem. An ecosystem approach is concerned with the rates and patterns of processes (e.g., sediment flux and salmon migration) and elements (such as species assemblages and stream channel morphology) that sustain salmon and other native fishes (Bradbury 1996).
Efforts to restore Pacific salmon typically involve a limiting factors assessment whereby one or several factors is identified as the bottleneck in a population's ability to persist and abound (population performance). Mobrand et al (1997) argue that the limiting factor model oversimplifies population performance by discounting productivity (density-independent survival) and life history diversity. These components of population performance are critically important to stock recovery. Productivity determines a population's ability to persist and is a function of habitat quality. Life history diversity provides the means for a stock to remain productive in a changing or highly disturbed environment. A holistic definition of population performance is the cornerstone of an ecosystem approach to restoring salmon populations.
The Ecosystem Diagnosis and Treatment (EDT) method, as presented in Mobrand et al (1999), provides a framework for developing a restoration strategy that encompasses the requisite complexity of salmon habitat use and life history diversity. The EDT method includes an analytical model that computes biological performance based on habitat attributes rated for all life stages, reaches and months. Potential life histories are sketched as trajectories across a time-space continuum, the shape and number of these trajectories bounded by biological limits of the species. These trajectories, scaled as a function of potential performance, are used a benchmark in evaluating current and desired conditions. The EDT process examines, within the context of habitat and life history, why management goals are not being met and generates alternatives. The EDT method can be used to rate the benefit and risks of prescriptive actions, and to evaluate the cumulative effect of multiple actions.
Adaptive management is the process whereby coordinated activities are incrementally evaluated and refined. It differs from traditional management by recognizing uncertainty and limited knowledge, and by providing a process for new information to modify existing decisions. Ideally, adaptive management programs regularly reevaluate their plans using high quality monitoring data from both successes and failures.
Monitoring is the measure of success for restoration (Kershner 1997) and an essential component of adaptive management. Three types of monitoring are required for an adaptive restoration strategy, each to answer a different type of question:
1. Was the prescription designed and implemented properly? Implementation monitoring is the type least likely to be skipped because it can usually occur immediately following implementation.
2. Was the prescription effective in meeting objectives? Effectiveness monitoring requires discernable objectives and an understanding of physical and biotic factors. /p>
3. What is the structure and function of this ecosystem? Validation monitoring verifies the assumptions behind effectiveness monitoring and is a research tool used to learn more about the conditions and processes influencing restoration activities.
The largest challenge in implementing a regional restoration strategy is the inclusion of private lands (greater than 50% of the north-coastal California landscape) in consistent methods of protection, prioritization, and treatment. The development of Habitat Conservation Plans is a possible step in either implementing or restricting a restoration strategy. HCPs must begin encompassing multiple small landowners while still establishing refugia with high levels of protection. HCPs must also prove flexible enough to permit adaptive management (Spence et al., 1996).
Spence et al. (1996) note two models for implementing conservation or restoration measures on private land. One is exemplified by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) which engages landowners in mutual discussion of needs and issues, identifying options and guidelines, and providing sufficient information to change landowner activity voluntarily. The EPA, by contrast, develops science-based criteria and best treatment practices that States can accept or modify as new regulations. The most successful restoration strategy will optimize a combination of both approaches.
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