Washington Stream Habitat Restoration Guidelines 2012 – Appendix A: Climate Change

Washington’s 2012 Stream Habitat Restoration Guidelines, prepared for the Washington State Aquatic Habitat Guidelines Program, include a Climate Change Appendix that summarizes the science and impacts of climate change on stream habitat in Washington, and strategies for ensuring that stream habitat restoration efforts are designed to be resilient to climate change impacts. The purpose of the Guidelines is to promote process based natural stream restoration, rehabilitating aquatic and riparian ecosystems.

The report provides guidelines to advance a watershed scale assessment of the stream system - establishing goals, objectives and design for restoring optimum sustainable native biodiversity, while using principles of landscape ecology and integrated aquatic ecosystem restoration. Topics addressed include:

- site, reach, and watershed assessment,

- problem identification,

- general approaches to restoring stream and riparian habitat,

- factors to consider in identifying and selecting an approach,

- approaches to solving common restoration objectives, and

- stream and riparian habitat restoration techniques.

The Climate Change Appendix summarizes anticipated changes in temperature and precipitation for Washington using information from a University of Washington Climate Impacts Group report. It discusses the implications of these changes and other related impacts (such as declining snowpack, increasing water temperature, and sea level rise) for hydrologic systems – and accordingly, stream habitat – in the state. For example, increasing air temperature and maximum stream temperatures are projected to significantly decrease the area of favorable salmon habitat by the 2040s.

The appendix also provides strategies for addressing climate change projections in habitat restoration project development, including dealing with uncertainty. Strategies are grouped into three different types of approaches: resistance, resilience, and response, with greater detail focused on resilience and response strategies. It also provides general design considerations and principles applicable to all stream habitat restoration projects to best account for climate change, such as designing for future conditions and designing to allow additional stream corridor space for anticipated or unexpected adjustments and greater floodplain capacity.

The Stream Habitat Restoration Guidelines were co-published by the State Departments of Fish and Wildlife, Natural Resources, Transportation, and Ecology, and the State Recreation and Conservation Office, the Puget Sound Partnership, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Publication Date: April 2012

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