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Center for Spatial Information and Research

Ecological Characterization of Existing and Potential Riparian Restoration Sites

The original purpose of this project was to develop a process to conduct a baseline inventory of abiotic, biological and constructed landscape conditions of the 53 existing riparian restoration sites comprising the Yakama Nation Wetlands and Riparian Restoration Project. This project was initiated with the intention to provide a series of steps or guidelines that could be used by the Yakama Nation Wildlife Resource Management Program to prioritize and monitor restoration efforts on Yakama River and surrounding floodplain reaches on Toppenish and Satus Creeks. This characterization will help Yakama Nation Wildlife identify existing conditions, determine functions and values of resources, and explore opportunities for conservation and restoration of ecological functions within each restoration site.

The information gathered for this inventory was principally mapped and analyzed using a hybrid of the ABC method, a spatial overlay technique which incorporates abiotic (e.g. hydrology/geomorphology), biotic (e.g. flora and fauna), and constructed landscape information (e.g. land uses) to identify areas of environmental significance as well as environmental constraints. Additional pilot field site assessments were conducted at three restoration sites, using a modified rapid assessment methodology. Two user interface forms were created in a Microsoft Access database for entering the field site assessment data into a geodatabase. The restoration site inventories and analyses were integrated in an accessible manner through narratives, tables and associated maps to inform restoration planning decisions and to provide a baseline for adaptive management. To provide final synthesis maps at appropriate viewing scales, a customized electronic map portfolio (YakReader) was developed through ESRI ArcReader, a free, easy-to-use mapping application that allows users to view, explore, and print maps. A customized aerial photo viewer (SyncMap) was also developed within ArcReader to easily navigate and compare historical and current aerial photography from four different years in a geo-synchronized manner, including scale bars, coordinates, and zoom and pan functions. This characterization will help Yakama Nation Wildlife identify existing conditions, determine functions and values of resources, and explore opportunities for conservation and restoration of ecological functions within each restoration site.

In the second phase of this project, we expanded the ecological characterization to potential restoration sites along the three main riparian corridors, including the Yakima River, Toppenish Creek and Satus Creek annexation corridors. This inventory has resulted in similar YakReader and SyncMap products for these corridors, and explored how to incorporate General Land Office historic maps into a GIS (focusing on a pilot restoration site). In addition, CWU developed an internet mapping service (IMS) for Yakama Nation Wildlife that provides better agency and possibly public access to the ecological restoration site data collected and synthesized in the first phase of this project.

Funding Sources:

Yakama Nation Research Contract. Amount: $60,000
Dates of Project: 6/06-4/08
Graduate Students Funded: 3

Finished Reports:

Gabriel, A.O., D. Cordner, and B. Sainsbury 2008. Ecological Characterization of Yakama Nation Riparian Restoration Sites on the Wapato Floodplain of the Yakima River Basin, Washington. Phase 2. Final Report, Digital Map Portfolio, and Interactive Mapping System Website. Ellensburg: Central Washington University. 14 pp.

Gabriel, A.O. 2007. Ecological Characterization of Yakama Nation Riparian Restoration Sites on the Wapato Floodplain of the Yakima River Basin, Washington. Final Report and Digital Map Portfolio. Ellensburg: Central Washington University. 277 pp.

Related Publications:

Cordner, D., A. Gabriel, and B. Sainsbury. 2007. Using ArcReader for ecological characterization of shorelines and wetlands in eastern Washington. Presented at the 2007 Southwest Users Group Conference, La Fonda on the Plaza, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Oct. 30 - Nov. 1, 2007.

Gabriel, A., B. Sainsbury, and J. Rhoades. 2007. Ecological characterization of Yakama Nation riparian restoration sites on the Wapato floodplain of the Yakima River Basin, Washington. Presented at the Society for Ecological Restoration - Pacific Northwest and Society of Wetlands Scientists Joint Conference, Yakima Convention Center, Yakima, Washington, Sept. 25-28, 2007.

Gabriel, A., B. Sainsbury, and J. Rhoades. 2007. Ecological characterization of Yakama Nation riparian restoration sites on the Wapato floodplain of the Yakima River Basin, Washington. Presented at the Yakima Basin Aquatic Science and Management Conference, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA, June 13-14, 2007.