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Introducing WFC's Barrier Prioritization Mapping System

Introducing WFC's Barrier Prioritization Mapping System

The first step in restoring fish passage is asking a number of fundamental questions and establishing a sound, logical approach to their resolution.  For instance, if habitats are fragmented by man-made barriers such as roads or trails, who is responsible for their maintenance?  Are the structures complete barriers or partial barriers?  What species of fish are present?  If the culverts are redesigned to pass fish is there enough fish habitat upstream to justify the cost?

Additionally, in a weak economy getting help with funding to remove a barrier culvert is more challenging than ever.  Consequently, when seeking funding for barrier restoration it’s important to have your “ducks in a row” or should I say “culverts in a row.”  At any rate, it is beneficial to know where the barrier culverts are and which watersheds are considered as priority watersheds in order to maximize funding opportunities.

Although several mapping systems currently exist to help answer barrier questions, it is difficult to prioritize and keep track of fish passage efforts without surfing multiple internet sites. This process is time-consuming and challenging enough for groups who are familiar with the process, but particularly burdensome to private landowners who are generally unfamiliar with the various mapping systems.

In the fall of 2008, Wild Fish Conservancy entered into a “Community Salmon Fund Agreement” with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to create an interactive web- based mapping system designed to help make prioritizing culvert barriers in the Snohomish River basin (WRIA 7) easier and faster. Under this grant, relevant data currently found in mapping systems such as Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Salmonscape and Washington Department of Natural Resource’s Forest Practice Review System (FPARS) were merged into one interactive mapping system, identified as the WRIA 07 Barrier Prioritization Mapping System (BPMS).  

One basin, Patterson Creek, was chosen as a demonstration basin; as such, the Patterson Creek basin contains comprehensive information on water typing (“fish bearing” or “non-fish bearing”), road ownership, and culverts present, in addition to natural and physical features (e.g., wetlands, roads).    

As comprehensive water typing surveys and culvert assessment surveys are completed in WRIA 07, the electronic files on the Water Typing and BPMS interactive maps will be updated. We invite you to come and take a look at wildfishconservancy.org when BPMS launches later this fall.

BPMS article

Figure 1.  One of several man-made barriers observed while water typing and documenting barriers/impediments in the Patterson Creek watershed.  This barrier structure on Canyon Creek blocks access to important upstream habitat.

Update by Mary Lou White, Projects Manager/Field Biologist, Wild Fish Conservancy

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