Water Stewardship Information Sources

Citation M. Porter, S. Casley, N. Ochoski, and S. Huang. 2015. Watershed Status Evaluation: An Assessment of 71 Watersheds
Meeting BC's Fisheries Sensitive Watershed Criteria. Victoria BC FREP Report 39.
Organization FLNRO
URL https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/ftp/hfp/external/!publish/FREP/reports/FREP_Report_39.pdf
Abstract/Description or Keywords Under British Columbia’s Forest and Range Practices Act
Government Actions Regulation, and the Oil and Gas
Activities Act Environmental Management and Protection
Regulation, watersheds with significant fish values and
watershed sensitivity can be designated as Fisheries
Sensitive Watersheds (FSWs). Effectiveness monitoring
and assessment is critical to ensure that FSW designations
succeed in achieving the intended goals of maintaining
natural functions and processes to conserve healthy fish
habitats and associated fish populations. Integrated
GIS-based (Tier I) and field-based (Tier II) methods for
assessing the habitat status of FSWs have been developed
jointly by government and private partners through
watershed status evaluation monitoring protocols.
This pilot project used the WSE Tier I GIS-based methods
described in Porter et al. (2013) to assess the watershed
indicator “risk” status of 71 watersheds across most of
British Columbia’s natural resource regions. Measured values
for as many as nine habitat indicators within surveyed
watersheds were compared to indicator benchmarks defined
in Porter et al. (2013) to assess risk “status” for each FSW
(i.e., GIS-derived watershed values relative to indicator
benchmarks). The defined indicator benchmarks represent
one of three risk levels associated with fish habitat impact:
(1) low, (2) moderate, and (3) high.
The analytical proficiency of modern GIS spatial tools is
easily capable of the type of analysis conducted in this
WSE Tier I evaluation. The limitations to this type of
analysis exist primarily with the base data. Despite the
various uncertainties inherent in current databases and
GIS layers supporting watershed status evaluation Tier I
assessments, the survey results and interpretations
presented here are a good first step toward the
development of more consistent and regularly repeated
evaluations of broad habitat pressures acting across
provincial FSWs. This assessment has helped to identify
gaps in underlying data requirements and has flagged
several priority needs for improvement.
To improve the utility of future watershed status
evaluation Tier I analyses, and other GIS-based forms
of analysis, we make the following recommendations.
• As a high government priority, improve critical GIS
data layers
• Expand the number of primary indicators
• Increase the frequency of field-based Tier II watershed
condition assessments
• Adopt and improve watershed status evaluation Tier I
Information Type report
Regional Watershed Province
Sub-watershed if known
Aquifer #
Project status complete
Contact Name
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