Type of Presentation

Oral

Session Title

Linking Metrics to Climate Impact Pathways and Restoration Performance Monitoring across Puget Sound Floodplains and Estuaries

Description

The South Fork Nooksack River (SFNR) is an important tributary to the Nooksack River, Bellingham Bay, and the Salish Sea. The South Fork Nooksack River comprises one of the 22 independent populations of spring Chinook in the Puget Sound Chinook Evolutionarily Significant Unit (ESU), which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The population is considered essential for recovery of the ESU. The SFNR has suffered from legacy impacts, temperature exceedances and fine sediment, due to forestry, agriculture, flood control, and transportation facilities. The temperature exceedances threaten spring Chinook salmon survival and as such under the Clean Water Act, this pollution must be addressed through a total maximum daily load (TMDL) regulatory program. Further, climate change is projected to cumulatively add to the existing legacy impacts. Millions of dollars are spent on salmon habitat restoration in the SFNR that primarily addresses these legacy impacts, but few if any restoration actions take climate change into direct consideration. The Nooksack Indian Tribe and USEPA-ORD jointly completed a climate change pilot research project that addresses legacy impacts, ESA recovery actions, CWA regulatory compliance, and salmon habitat restoration in one comprehensive project. The project evaluates how land use impacts, including altered hydrology, stream temperature, sediment dynamics, and flooding of adjacent river floodplains, combined with projected climate change, could be incorporated into a TMDL and influence restoration actions pursuant to the ESA and watershed recovery plan. The project evaluated the effectiveness of existing habitat restoration plans and how such plans and actions could be modified to be climate ready and promote ecosystem resiliency in the face of continued climate change. This presentation will summarize the context, methods, and results of this unique climate change project.

Comments

key words: climate change, sediment, flooding, stream temperature, salmon habitat restoration, clean water act compliance, legacy impacts.

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Integrating Salmon Recovery, Clean Water Act Compliance, Restoration, and Climate Change Impacts in the South Fork Nooksack River

2016SSEC

The South Fork Nooksack River (SFNR) is an important tributary to the Nooksack River, Bellingham Bay, and the Salish Sea. The South Fork Nooksack River comprises one of the 22 independent populations of spring Chinook in the Puget Sound Chinook Evolutionarily Significant Unit (ESU), which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The population is considered essential for recovery of the ESU. The SFNR has suffered from legacy impacts, temperature exceedances and fine sediment, due to forestry, agriculture, flood control, and transportation facilities. The temperature exceedances threaten spring Chinook salmon survival and as such under the Clean Water Act, this pollution must be addressed through a total maximum daily load (TMDL) regulatory program. Further, climate change is projected to cumulatively add to the existing legacy impacts. Millions of dollars are spent on salmon habitat restoration in the SFNR that primarily addresses these legacy impacts, but few if any restoration actions take climate change into direct consideration. The Nooksack Indian Tribe and USEPA-ORD jointly completed a climate change pilot research project that addresses legacy impacts, ESA recovery actions, CWA regulatory compliance, and salmon habitat restoration in one comprehensive project. The project evaluates how land use impacts, including altered hydrology, stream temperature, sediment dynamics, and flooding of adjacent river floodplains, combined with projected climate change, could be incorporated into a TMDL and influence restoration actions pursuant to the ESA and watershed recovery plan. The project evaluated the effectiveness of existing habitat restoration plans and how such plans and actions could be modified to be climate ready and promote ecosystem resiliency in the face of continued climate change. This presentation will summarize the context, methods, and results of this unique climate change project.