Presentation Abstract

The railroad right-of-way is a prominent modification along the eastern shore of the Washington portion of the Salish Sea. It runs along 52 miles of the shoreline, while another 73 miles of railroad is within 200 feet of the shoreline. In many places, the railroad forms a barrier between the coastal watershed and the shoreline, preventing the delivery of water, sediment, wood, and organic matter to the nearshore. This results in ongoing degradation of the habitat quality of the nearshore environment, which is important habitat for juvenile Chinook salmon and other salmonids. Because nearshore restoration along the railroad is expensive and requires extensive planning, restoration efforts should be focused on areas that would provide substantial benefits to fish habitat and nearshore processes. In order to identify these locations, this project completed a field inventory characterizing stream crossings and embayments along the railroad between the Nisqually delta and Canadian border. Field data was combined with available data to prioritize railroad stream crossings for existing function and restoration potential. Almost 200 stream crossings and 13 embayments were included in the final database. Thirteen data attributes were used to assess the habitat quality and potential of each site. An advisory team guided the development of the prioritization framework to ensure attributes were appropriately weighted and that it could support local and regional restoration outcomes of interest. Attributes were broken down into two categories: juvenile salmon use and upstream habitat quality. High scoring crossings in both categories represent ideal candidates for restoration attention. This assessment and prioritization of railroad crossings along the Puget Sound shoreline provides an important framework to guide strategic restoration in the Salish Sea.

Session Title

Restoring Connectivity in Estuaries and Floodplains

Conference Track

Shorelines, Estuaries & Rivers

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (2020 : Online)

Document Type

Event

SSEC Identifier

2020_abstractID_4183

Start Date

21-4-2020 9:00 AM

End Date

22-4-2020 4:45 PM

Geographic Coverage

Salish Sea (B.C. and Wash.)

Rights

Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this document for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author's written permission.

Language

English

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Apr 21st, 9:00 AM Apr 22nd, 4:45 PM

Coastal Stream and Embayment Restoration Priorities along the BNSF Railroad: Results and Future Action

The railroad right-of-way is a prominent modification along the eastern shore of the Washington portion of the Salish Sea. It runs along 52 miles of the shoreline, while another 73 miles of railroad is within 200 feet of the shoreline. In many places, the railroad forms a barrier between the coastal watershed and the shoreline, preventing the delivery of water, sediment, wood, and organic matter to the nearshore. This results in ongoing degradation of the habitat quality of the nearshore environment, which is important habitat for juvenile Chinook salmon and other salmonids. Because nearshore restoration along the railroad is expensive and requires extensive planning, restoration efforts should be focused on areas that would provide substantial benefits to fish habitat and nearshore processes. In order to identify these locations, this project completed a field inventory characterizing stream crossings and embayments along the railroad between the Nisqually delta and Canadian border. Field data was combined with available data to prioritize railroad stream crossings for existing function and restoration potential. Almost 200 stream crossings and 13 embayments were included in the final database. Thirteen data attributes were used to assess the habitat quality and potential of each site. An advisory team guided the development of the prioritization framework to ensure attributes were appropriately weighted and that it could support local and regional restoration outcomes of interest. Attributes were broken down into two categories: juvenile salmon use and upstream habitat quality. High scoring crossings in both categories represent ideal candidates for restoration attention. This assessment and prioritization of railroad crossings along the Puget Sound shoreline provides an important framework to guide strategic restoration in the Salish Sea.