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Intensively Monitored Watersheds


The Intensively Monitored Watershed (IMW) project is a joint effort of the Washington Departments of Fish and Wildlife and Ecology, NOAA Fisheries, EPA, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and Weyerhaeuser Company and is financially supported by the Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board. The premise of the IMW project is that the complex relationships controlling salmon response to habitat conditions can best be understood by concentrating monitoring and research efforts at a few locations. Focusing efforts on a few locations allows enough data on physical and biological attributes of systems to be collected to allow the detection of the effects of restoration treatments on salmon production. The IMW cooperators have begun collecting water quantity, water quality, habitat, summer juvenile fish abundance, and smolt production data and are identifying specific restoration actions for each IMW treatment watershed. IMWs are an efficient method of achieving the sampling intensity necessary to detect the response of salmon to a set of restoration actions.

Three Watershed Complexes

The IMW project compares changes in salmon production among experimental treatment (restoration) and control (no restoration) watersheds. The IMW watersheds were selected to provide meaningful comparison. There are three IMW watershed complexes (sets of control and treatment watersheds) that differ in physical characteristics, land use patterns, climate and salmon relative abundance. Differences among watershed complexes enhances our ability to generalize results to other watersheds. Differences among watersheds and complexes also provide opportunities to address a range of factors that contribute to habitat degradation. The IMWs in western Washington focus on coho salmon, and steelhead and cutthroat trout.

Three IMW programs are conducted in freshwater habitat. These are the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Hood Canal, and the Lower Columbia. The Strait of Juan de Fuca complex consists of three watersheds: West Twin River, East Twin River, and Deep Creek. The Hood Canal complex consists of four watersheds: Stavis Creek, Big Beef Creek, Seabeck Creek, and Little Anderson Creek. The Lower Columbia complex consists of three watersheds: Mill Creek, Abernathy Creek, and Germany Creek. A fourth IMW program in estuary habitat is conducted in Skagit River estuary by the Skagit River Systems Cooperative and National Marine Fisheries Service.

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