Riparian And Wetlands Project Research

Note: Inclusion of research materials on this page does not imply that Benton County formally recognizes, agrees with, or promotes the perspectives or conclusions expressed in such materials. Benton County is collecting information from a wide variety of sources, evaluating that information, and synthesized applicable elements into the Inventory Report.

Research Overview

The following resources were compiled by project staff to provide key research for natural resources and water quality within the portions of the Willamette Sub-basin and Alsea Sub-basin within Benton County (see basin maps).

Benton County analysis, based on existing research will be used to develop distinct Alsea Basin and Willamette Basin riparian and wetlands inventory. The following analysis was prompted by Alsea landowner public comments and recent water quality information (technical and regulatory) provided by State Department of Environmental Quality (see Oregon Department of Environmental Quality Memo on Status of Total Maximum Daily Load Implementation Schedule for the Alsea Basin, below).

The goal for developing distinct basin inventories (see Inventory Updates Web page) for the portion of the Alsea and Willamette basins within Benton County is to provide basin specific information for developing Benton County riparian and wetlands protection program.

Benton County Alsea Basin and Willamette Basin Analysis

Updated Alsea Basin and Willamette Basin Characteristics in Benton County, Oregon (pdf)

The updated inventory (updated April 2011) specifies inventory data for each basin in Benton County. This updated inventory provides basin specific data (Alsea Basin and Willamette Basin in Benton County, Oregon) wherever applicable. This information will be utilized to inform development of Basin specific requirements (see Policy section) for riparian and wetland resources within unincorporated areas of Benton County.

Benton County Alsea Basin Specific Resources

Fish and Wildlife and Water Quality in the Alsea Watershed Study
Alsea Watershed Study – "Three small tributaries of Drift Creek, tributary to the Alsea River, Oregon, were monitored during a 15-year logging study. One watershed (Needle Branch) was clearcut without buffer strips. A second (Deer Creek) was clearcut in patches with buffer strips. The third (Flynn Creek) was unlogged, and served as a control. Fish populations were affected in areas with riparian buffer area reductions".

Alsea Study Revisited – "The regenerated forest on Needle Branch is again ready for commercial harvest. The proposed timber harvesting plan involves two harvest units and will provide an opportunity to examine cumulative effects on water resources. This study will assess the effectiveness of current Best Management Practices (BMPs) for timber harvesting in the temperate forests of coastal Oregon."

NOAA Marine Fisheries – "NOAA Fisheries Service first listed Oregon coast coho as threatened under the ESA in 1998. The listing of this ESU has been the basis for on-going legal action under a 2001 U.S. District Court ruling in Alsea Valley Alliance v. Evans (Alsea decision). The fisheries service announced in February 2008 that it was listing the Oregon coast coho ESU as threatened under the ESA."

Water Quality
The Alsea Basin has several water quality limited (303(d) Listed) streams for temperature, including the mainstem Alsea River for dissolved oxygen. There is currently no formal guidance or state plan (such as the Willamette Basin TMDL Implementation Plan) that has been adopted requiring Benton County and other entities to limit temperature or bacteria inputs to streams in the Alsea Basin.

Alsea Basin Water Quality data provided by Oregon Dept of Environmental Quality – documents current water quality monitoring for streams of Alsea Basin within Benton County

Update from Oregon Department of Environmental Quality Mid-Coast Basin TMDL Coordinator (3/24/11):  "The Mid-Coast Alsea TMDL Stakeholder process (see ODEQ Memo describing Mid-Coast TMDL Process (PDF) and update): DEQ received confirmation from EPA-Region 10 supporting our proposal for Facilitation and Mediation activities, through their National Watershed Contract. They identified a primary contractor (the Cadmus Group) who will manage the project in collaboration with DEQ.

Benton County Willamette Basin Specific Resources

Water Quality
Willamette Basin TMDL Implementation Plan – A "Total Maximum Daily Load" (TMDL) is the calculated pollutant amount that a waterbody can receive and still meet Oregon water quality standards. Benton County is a Designated Management Agency by Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, and is required to meet Water Quality Standards including protection of riparian areas to improve water quality; specifically, increasing "effective shade" on perennial streams in Benton County within the Willamette Basin is a goal to meet current temperature requirements.

Cost Estimate to Restore Riparian Forest Buffers and Improve Stream Habitat in the Willamette Basin, Oregon (PDF) – report includes estimated costs of restoring streamside vegetation and habitat from pollution caused by "nonpoint" sources such as farming, forestry and urban activities. Nonpoint activities that result in the loss of streamside vegetation contribute to sediment runoff into streams, increased stream temperatures and a diminished aquatic habitat.

Willamette Basin Planning Atlas – The Willamette River Basin Planning Atlas supports this endeavor by compiling, analyzing, and representing the best available information about critical natural and cultural factors influencing land and water use decisions. Once compiled, this information was used in a collaborative, citizen-led process to create a set of mapped depictions of plausible future configurations of land and water use for the basin in the year 2050.

Fish and Wildlife
NOAA Marine Fisheries – "The Willamette Project has adversely affected those fish by blocking access to a large amount of their historic habitat upstream of the dams, and contributing to degradation of their remaining downstream habitat. Other factors in the decline of Willamette fish include habitat degradation by others, hatchery effects, and harvest."

Willamette Basin Biological Opinion – "July 11, 2008: NOAA Fisheries Service released a final Endangered Species Act biological opinion on the Willamette Basin Project."

Additional Resources

Independent Multidisciplinary Science Team Reports – The Independent Multidisciplinary Science Team (IMST) is a scientific review panel charged with advising the State of Oregon on matters of science related to the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds. These matters include fish recovery, water quality improvements, and enhancing watershed health.

Download a general brochure (PDF) about the IMST. The following are reports that the Governor, and the Oregon Legislature use as a frame of reference when struggling with policy decisions affecting Oregon Plan implementation; providing guidance for Benton County Riparian and Wetlands Advisory Group

Water Quality
  • Oregon's Water Temperature Standard and its Application: Causes, Consequences, and Controversies Associated with Stream Temperature. Technical Report 2004-1.
  • Influences of Human Activity on Stream Temperatures and Existence of Cold-Water Fish in Streams with Elevated Temperature: Report of a Workshop. Technical Report 2000-02.
Riparian and Wetland Resources
  • Recovery of Wild Salmonids in Western Oregon Lowlands. Technical Report 2002-1.
  • Recovery of Wild Salmonids in Western Oregon Forests: Oregon Forest Practices Act Rules and the Measures in the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds. Technical Report 1999-1
Local Knowledge

Oregon Websites and Watersheds Project, Inc. (ORWW) – an educational, nonprofit 501 c(3) corporation based in Philomath, Oregon since December 1996. ORWW is funded by private businesses, landowners, individuals, associations, and foundations with an interest in the long-term use and scientific management of Oregon's natural and cultural resources.

Principles Involved With Prediction of Stream Temperature (PDF) – (provided 5/9/11) write-up provided by Dr. Mike Newton of the Oregon State University based on research of forested watersheds with various riparian buffers; provides overview of stream temperature assessment and riparian buffer impacts on water temperature.

Additional Stream Temperature Research

"Keeping it Cool: Unraveling the Influence on Stream Temperatures" (PDF) – This research by the Pacific Northwest Research Station focuses specifically on the role of shade in influencing stream temperature. The design of the experiment was chosen to cut through the debate regarding the importance of streamside vegetation on water temperature. It's a good example of how experimental design can help support or undermine the conclusions drawn from research. From the article:

“Stream temperature dynamics have been the focus of much controversy and have been at the center of a long-standing policy debate,” says Sherri Johnson, a research ecologist at the PNW Research Station in Corvallis, Oregon. “To add to the controversy, numerous contradictions exist in the published literature about the controlling factors of stream temperature, such as the role of air temperature, shade, substrate, and timber harvest.” http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/sciencef/scifi67.pdf (PDF)

NEW! Peer-reviewed research for riparian buffers and functions provided for Fish and Wildlife, Water Quality, and other associated stream and wetland resources.

The following research can be downloaded in PDF format, including citations. Compiled research focuses on riparian buffers and provides information on the importance of riparian buffers in meeting the Benton County Riparian and Wetland Project goals:

* Several other research and related resources are available upon request. Contact: adam.stebbins@co.benton.or.us; 541-766-6085