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Environmental Modeling Community of Practice

Watershed Health Assessment Tools Investigating Fisheries WHAT IF Version 2: A Manager’s Guide to New Features


Streams and rivers provide important ecological services, including habitat for fishes and other organisms, and drinking water supplies, yet these ecosystems are among the most impaired across the country. Management of these ecosystems involves the assessment of probable causes of impairments and remediation/restoration alternatives, as well as forecasting future condition in a scientifically defensible fashion to more effectively protect valued ecosystems. Communities, watershed groups and states require decision support tools for managing the quality of aquatic systems. Community-based environmental management is a long-term goal of the Agency, and providing the methods/tools and technical transfer mechanisms to achieve this goal are critical to the role of ORD. Effective client collaborations are the most efficient means to achieve this result.

This report is the result of collaboration with the Canaan Valley Institute (CVI) in which a decision analysis toolkit was produced in order to support management of fisheries in the Mid-Atlantic Highlands. Although there are many ecological endpoints that are important indicators of the condition of aquatic communities and their associated watersheds, fish health is arguably one of the most important, since fishability is a principal designated use for surface waters under the Clean Water Act. The approach used here can be applied to aid CVI and other agencies in the management of aquatic resources in the Mid-Atlantic Highlands, and may serve as a model for management tools for aquatic systems in other regions.

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