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Region 10 WA/OR Coast & Stream Project Information

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Text reproduced from the publication, USEPA 1993. Regional Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program. EPA/625/R-93/012. September 1993. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, Washington, DC.

Figures and tables not reproduced here. The complete publication may be ordered from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Center for Environmental Research Information, Cincinnati, OH 45268. The publication request desk may be reached by phone at 513-569-7562.


Many rivers and streams in the Pacific Northwest cannot support beneficial uses, such as salmonid spawning and cold water biota, because of siltation and other forms of pollution. The problems observed in these streams include elevated temperatures, high fecal coliform and nutrient levels, and altered habitat and stream flow. The primary causes of these problems are nonpoint source pollution and physical disturbances to riparian vegetation and stream banks from adjacent agricultural, forestry, and grazing land uses. The Region X R-EMAP project will characterize the extent and severity of these environmental disturbances to the streams in two areas of the Region: the Coast Range Ecoregion and the Yakima River Basin.

In 1990, Region X established the Biological Assessment Workgroup, consisting of representatives from EPA Headquarters, Region X, and the Office of Research and Development; the U.S. Forest Service; the U.S. Geological Survey; the U.S. Bureau of Land Management; the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; the states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho; and several universities in the Region. The Workgroup was convened to address the identification and monitoring of water resource problems in the Region.

As part of this effort, the states identified their top geographic priorities for future biological assessments of stream ecosystems. Among these priorities were the Coast Range Ecoregion and the Yakima River Basin (Columbia Basin Ecoregion). The Coast Range represents a forested ecosystem, while the Yakima River Basin is in an area used for agriculture, grazing, and forest harvest. These two ecosystems are the focus of the Region X R-EMAP project.

The goals of the Region X project are to:

The questions to be addressed regarding the condition of the Coast Range Ecoregion and the Yakima River Basin include:

The answers to these questions will help the Region and the states focus on priority watersheds and evaluate the effectiveness of programs addressing nonpoint source pollution and habitat alteration (such as best management practices, public education, and restoration).

The Region X R-EMAP project is a joint effort by the Region X Environmental Services Division, EPA's Office of Research and Development, the Washington Department of Ecology, and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.


To conduct biological assessments of wadable streams, the Region X project will sample randomly selected streams in the Coast Range Ecoregion and the Yakima River Basin. Field measurements will be taken to characterize macroinvertebrate and fish assemblages, physical habitat, and physical and chemical water parameters. Sampling will take place from July to October in both 1994 and 1995.

Table 10-1 lists the project milestones and schedule.

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To randomly select sampling sites, Region X will use the EMAP-Surface Waters protocols developed for the EMAP mid-Appalachian pilot study. In the first year of the project, the Washington Department of Ecology will sample approximately 20 randomly selected streams in the Yakima River Basin (Figure 10-1). In addition, at least 60 streams in the Coast Range Ecoregion will be randomly selected and sampled by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and the Washington Department of Ecology. Any additional sampling sites will be chosen based on the needs of state and Regional management. All the streams sampled will be small wadable streams. The same sampling strategy will be followed in the second year of the project.


To collect representative samples of macroinvertebrates from the study streams, the field crew will randomly select four 0.18-square- meter (2-square-foot) areas at each riffle site. The field crew will take four "kick samples" at these locations by disturbing a 30- to 60-centimeter area of the" stream bottom with the feet and collecting the sample with a D-frame, fine-mesh net. They will then combine the four samples to compose a single macroinvertebrate sample for each riffle site. The laboratory will identify, count, and measure the macroinvertebrates present in each sample. The investigators will consider refinements to the macroinvertebrate sampling method, based on the results of the EMAP Surface Water Pilot Study conducted in Oregon in summer 1993.


The field crew will collect fish using electrofishing equipment. The fish will be identified, counted, and measured, and then returned to the stream. Field measurements will be taken in a randomly selected portion of the stream, a minimum of 100 meters to a maximum of 300 meters in length, depending on stream size.


At each site, field workers will measure 11 parameters pertaining to the physical habitat of the stream (Table 10-2). An additional parameter, successional stage (type of plant communities present), will be measured at forested sites. Both a qualitative and a quantitative approach will be used to assess the parameters. The quantitative measurements allow the investigators to compare the habitat quality across the sampling sites. The qualitative information provides supplemental information useful for characterizing the sites. The investigators will consider additions to or refinements of the existing habitat parameters based on the outcome of the EMAP Surface Water Pilot Study conducted in Oregon.


For each sampling area, several physical and chemical water quality parameters (listed in Table 10-3) will be measured. The field crew will record data on conductivity, pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, high water mark, stream flow, and stream gradient. Each state laboratory will analyze the remaining parameters. The states will use comparable sampling and analysis protocols and quality assurance/quality control procedures to ensure consistency.



Gretchen Hayslip
Environmental Services Division
Region X
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Sixth Avenue, ES-097
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 553-1685

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