This report presents the work completed to date on a suite of physical and biological indicators that, collectively, should provide an accurate appraisal of the overall health of riparian and stream habitats adjacent to logged areas. The approach taken to assessing the effectiveness of different riparian management strategies is a blend of the 'Montana' method as modified by the Forest Practices Board (2002) in a study on the effects of cattle grazing near streams in BC, and the MOF checklist approach to assessing Properly Functioning Condition for streams. The intent was to try and capitalize on the best features of each method. The report presents the rationale, measurement criteria, field procedures and scoring for 25 indicators of stream and riparian health or functioning condition. Sixteen of the indicators were accepted at an experts workshop as valid indicators. Examples included eroding banks, bar frequency, number of pools, fish cover diversity, benthic invertebrate diversity, vegetative cover, bare ground, deep-rooted streambanks, substrate embeddedness, and shade. Nine other indicators were considered provisional indicators still in need of some refinement. Typically the latter included some threshold values that realistically reflected different levels of riparian health or Properly Functioning Condition. Examples included LWD supply and sediment variability, fish abundance, plant vigour, wind throw, forest connectivity, and similarity to the desired plant community. Overview and routine evaluation procedures based on the above indicators are provided in this report to help professionals use the indicators in a systematic, repeatable, objective and cost-effective manner. The evaluations are intended to be site-specific and/or reach specific. They are therefore stand-level evaluations as opposed to watershed scale evaluations, though clearly some of the indicators are useful at both levels. The indicators and field procedures presented here need to be tested, and then refined or dropped and new ones added depending on the results of the testing. The provisional indicators especially warrant a closer look in view of the frequency it was felt the information represented by these indicators was needed to complete the routine evaluations. Testing the validity and usefulness of the procedures remains an ongoing process.
Derek Tripp, Steve Bird, Dan Hogan.