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STREAM HABITAT ASSESSMENT FORMS


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Bureau of Freshwater and Biological Monitoring

 

Table 4 HABITAT ASSESSMENT FOR HIGH GRADIENT STREAMS

Habitat

Parameter

Condition Category

Optimal

Suboptimal

Marginal

Poor

 

 

1. Epifaunal Substrate/Available Cover

Greater than 70% of substrate favorable for epifaunal colonization and fish cover; mix of snags, submerged logs, undercut banks, cobble or other stable habitat and at stage to allow full colonization potential (i.e., logs/snags that are not new fall and not transient).

40-70% mix of stable habitat; well suited for full colonization potential; adequate habitat for maintenance of populations; presence of additional substrate in the form of newfall, but not yet prepared for colonization (may rate at high end of scale).

20-40% mix of stable habitat; habitat availability less than desirable; substrate frequently disturbed or removed.

Less than 20% stable habitat; lack of habitat is obvious; substrate unstable or lacking.

SCORE

20 19 18 17 16

15 14 13 12 11

10 9 8 7 6

5 4 3 2 1 0

 

2. Embeddedness

Gravel, cobble, and boulder particles are 0-25% surrounded by fine sediment.

Gravel, cobble, and boulder particles are 25-50% surrounded by fine sediment.

Gravel, cobble, and boulder particles are 50-75% surrounded by fine sediment.

Gravel, cobble, and boulder particles are more than 75% surrounded by fine sediment.

SCORE

20 19 18 17 16

15 14 13 12 11

10 9 8 7 6

5 4 3 2 1 0

 

3. Velocity / Depth Regime

All 4 velocity/depth regimes present (slow-deep, slow-shallow, fast-deep, fast-shallow). (slow is <0.3 m/s, deep is >0.5m)

Only 3 of the 4 regimes present (if fast-shallow is missing, score lower than if missing other regimes).

Only 2 of the 4 habitat regimes present (if fast-shallow or slow-shallow are missing, score low).

Dominated by 1 velocity/depth regime (usually slow-deep).

SCORE

20 19 18 17 16

15 14 13 12 11

10 9 8 7 6

5 4 3 2 1 0

 

4. Sediment Deposition

Little or no enlargement of islands or point bars and less than 5% (<20% for low-gradient streams) of the bottom affected by sediment deposition.

Some new increase in bar formation, mostly from gravel, sand or fine sediment; 5-30% (20-50% for low-gradient) of the bottom affected; slight deposition in pools.

Moderate deposition of new gravel, sand or fine sediment on old and new bars; 30-50% (50-80% for low-gradient) of the bottom affected; sediment deposits at obstructions, constrictions, and bends; moderate deposition of pools prevalent.

Heavy deposits of fine material, increased bar development; more than 50% (80% for low-gradient) of the bottom changing frequently; pools almost absent due to substantial sediment deposition.

SCORE

20 19 18 17 16

15 14 13 12 11

10 9 8 7 6

5 4 3 2 1 0

5. Channel Flow Status

Water reaches base of both lower banks, and minimal amount of channel substrate is exposed.

Water fills >75% of the available channel; or <25% of channel substrate is exposed.

Water fills 25-75% of the available channel, and/or riffle substrates are mostly exposed.

Very little water in channel and mostly present as standing pools.

SCORE

20 19 18 17 16

15 14 13 12 11

10 9 8 7 6

5 4 3 2 1 0

 

6. Channel Alteration

Channelization or dredging absent or minimal; stream with normal pattern.

Some channelization present, usually in areas of bridge abutments; evidence of past channelization, i.e., dredging, (greater than past 20 yrs.) may be present, but recent channelization is not present.

Channelization may be extensive; embankments or shoring structures present on both banks; and 40 to 80% of stream reach channelized and disrupted.

Banks shored with gabion or cement; over 80% of the stream reach channelized and disrupted. In stream habitat greatly altered or removed entirely.

SCORE

20 19 18 17 16

15 14 13 12 11

10 9 8 7 6

5 4 3 2 1 0

 

7. Frequency of Riffles (or bends)

Occurrence of riffles relatively frequent; ratio of distance between riffles divided by width of the stream <7:1 (generally 5 to 7); variety of habitat is key. In streams where riffles are continuous, placement of boulders or other large, natural obstruction is important.

Occurrence of riffles infrequent; distance between riffles divided by the width of the stream is between 7 to 15.

Occasional riffle or bend; bottom contours provide some habitat; distance between riffles divided by the width of the stream is between 15 to 25.

Generally all flat water or shallow riffles; poor habitat; distance between riffles divided by the width of the stream is a ratio of >25.

SCORE

20 19 18 17 16

15 14 13 12 11

10 9 8 7 6

5 4 3 2 1 0

 

8. Bank Stability (score each bank)

Note: determine left or right side by facing downstream.

Banks stable; evidence of erosion or bank failure absent or minimal; little potential for future problems. <5% of bank affected.

Moderately stable; infrequent, small areas of erosion mostly healed over. 5-30% of bank in reach has areas of erosion.

Moderately unstable; 30-60% of bank in reach has areas of erosion; high erosion potential during floods.

Unstable; many eroded areas; "raw" areas frequent along straight sections and bends; obvious bank sloughing; 60-100% of bank has erosional scars.

SCORE _____ (LB)

Left Bank       10    9

8   7     6

5   4    3

2   1    0

SCORE _____ (RB)

Right Bank    10    9

8   7     6

5   4    3

2   1    0

 

9. Bank Vegetative Protection (score each bank)

More than 90% of the streambank surfaces and immediate riparian zone covered by native vegetation, including trees, under story shrubs, or nonwoody macrophytes; vegetative disruption through grazing or mowing minimal or not evident; almost all plants allowed to grow naturally.

70-90% of the streambank surfaces covered by native vegetation, but one class of plants is not well-represented; disruption evident but not affecting full plant growth potential to any great extent; more than one-half of the potential plant stubble height remaining.

50-70% of the streambank surfaces covered by vegetation; disruption obvious; patches of bare soil or closely cropped vegetation common; less than one-half of the potential plant stubble height remaining.

Less than 50% of the streambank surfaces covered by vegetation; disruption of streambank vegetation is very high; vegetation has been removed to 5 centimeters or less in average stubble height.

SCORE _____ (LB)

Left Bank       10    9

8   7     6

5   4    3

2   1    0

SCORE _____ (RB)

Right Bank    10    9

8   7     6

5   4    3

2   1    0

 

10. Riparian Vegetative Zone Width (score each bank riparian zone)

Width of riparian zone >18 meters; human activities (i.e., parking lots, roadbeds, clear-cuts, lawns, or crops) have not impacted zone.

Width of riparian zone 12-18 meters; human activities have impacted zone only minimally.

Width of riparian zone 6-12 meters; human activities have impacted zone a great deal.

Width of riparian zone <6 meters: little or no riparian vegetation due to human activities.

SCORE _____ (LB)

Left Bank       10    9

8   7     6

5   4    3

2   1    0

SCORE _____ (RB)

Right Bank    10    9

8   7     6

5   4    3

2   1    0

HABITAT SCORES

VALUE

OPTIMAL

160 - 200

SUB-OPTIMAL

110 - 159

MARGINAL

60 - 109

POOR

< 60

 


 

Table 4 (cont.) HABITAT ASSESSMENT FOR LOW GRADIENT STREAMS

Habitat

Parameter

Condition Category

Optimal

Suboptimal

Marginal

Poor

 

 

1. Epifaunal Substrate/Available Cover

Greater than 50% of substrate favorable for epifaunal colonization and fish cover; mix of snags, submerged logs, undercut banks, cobble or other stable habitat and at stage to allow full colonization potential (i.e., logs/snags that are not new fall and not transient).

30-50% mix of stable habitat; well suited for full colonization potential; adequate habitat for maintenance of populations; presence of additional substrate in the form of newfall, but not yet prepared for colonization (may rate at high end of scale).

10-30% mix of stable habitat; habitat availability less than desirable; substrate frequently disturbed or removed.

Less than 10% stable habitat; lack of habitat is obvious; substrate unstable or lacking.

SCORE

20 19 18 17 16

15 14 13 12 11

10 9 8 7 6

5 4 3 2 1 0

 

2. Pool Substrate Characterization

Mixture of substrate materials, with gravel and firm sand prevalent; root mats and submerged vegetation common.

Mixture of soft sand, mud, or clay; mud may be dominant; some root mats and submerged vegetation present.

All mud or clay or sand bottom; little or no root mat; no submerged vegetation.

Hard-pan clay or bedrock; no root mat or vegetation.

SCORE

20 19 18 17 16

15 14 13 12 11

10 9 8 7 6

5 4 3 2 1 0


3. Pool Variability

Even mix of large-shallow, large-deep, small-shallow, small-deep pools present.

Majority of pools large-deep; very few shallow.

Shallow pools much more prevalent than deep pools.

Majority of pools small-shallow or pools absent.

SCORE

20 19 18 17 16

15 14 13 12 11

10 9 8 7 6

5 4 3 2 1 0

 

4. Sediment Deposition

Little or no enlargement of islands or point bars and less than 5% <20% for low-gradient streams) of the bottom affected by sediment deposition.

Some new increase in bar formation, mostly from gravel, sand or fine sediment; 5-30% (20-50% for low-gradient) of the bottom affected; slight deposition in pools.

Moderate deposition of new gravel, sand or fine sediment on old and new bars; 30-50% (50-80% for low-gradient) of the bottom affected; sediment deposits at obstructions, constrictions, and bends; moderate deposition of pools prevalent.

Heavy deposits of fine material, increased bar development; more than 50% (80% for low-gradient) of the bottom changing frequently; pools almost absent due to substantial sediment deposition.

SCORE

20 19 18 17 16

15 14 13 12 11

10 9 8 7 6

5 4 3 2 1 0

 

5. Channel Flow Status

Water reaches base of both lower banks, and minimal amount of channel substrate is exposed.

Water fills >75% of the available channel; or <25% of channel substrate is exposed.

Water fills 25-75% of the available channel, and/or riffle substrates are mostly exposed.

Very little water in channel and mostly present as standing pools.

SCORE

20 19 18 17 16

15 14 13 12 11

10 9 8 7 6

5 4 3 2 1 0

 

6. Channel Alteration

Channelization or dredging absent or minimal; stream with normal pattern.

Some channelization present, usually in areas of bridge abutments; evidence of past channelization, i.e., dredging, (greater than past 20 yrs.) may be present, but recent channelization is not present.

Channelization may be extensive; embankments or shoring structures present on both banks; and 40 to 80% of stream reach channelized and disrupted.

Banks shored with gabion or cement; over 80% of the stream reach channelized and disrupted. In stream habitat greatly altered or removed entirely.

SCORE

20 19 18 17 16

15 14 13 12 11

10 9 8 7 6

5 4 3 2 1 0

 

7. Channel Sinuosity

The bends in the stream increase the stream length 3 to 4 times longer than if it was in a straight line. (Note - channel braiding is considered normal in coastal plains and other low-lying areas. This parameter is not easily rated in these areas.

The bends in the stream increase the stream length 2 to 3 times longer than if it was in a straight line.

The bends in the stream increase the stream length 2 to 1 times longer than if it was in a straight line.

Channel straight; waterway has been channelized for a long distance.

SCORE

20 19 18 17 16

15 14 13 12 11

10 9 8 7 6

5 4 3 2 1 0

 

8. Bank Stability (score each bank)

Note: determine left or right side by facing downstream.

Banks stable; evidence of erosion or bank failure absent or minimal; little potential for future problems. <5% of bank affected.

Moderately stable; infrequent, small areas of erosion mostly healed over. 5-30% of bank in reach has areas of erosion.

Moderately unstable; 30-60% of bank in reach has areas of erosion; high erosion potential during floods.

Unstable; many eroded areas; "raw" areas frequent along straight sections and bends; obvious bank sloughing; 60-100% of bank has erosional scars.

SCORE _____ (LB)

Left Bank       10    9

8   7     6

5   4    3

2   1    0

SCORE _____ (RB)

Right Bank    10    9

8   7     6

5   4    3

2   1    0

 

9. Bank Vegetative Protection (score each bank)

More than 90% of the streambank surfaces and immediate riparian zone covered by native vegetation, including trees, under story shrubs, or nonwoody macrophytes; vegetative disruption through grazing or mowing minimal or not evident; almost all plants allowed to grow naturally.

70-90% of the streambank surfaces covered by native vegetation, but one class of plants is not well-represented; disruption evident but not affecting full plant growth potential to any great extent; more than one-half of the potential plant stubble height remaining.

50-70% of the streambank surfaces covered by vegetation; disruption obvious; patches of bare soil or closely cropped vegetation common; less than one-half of the potential plant stubble height remaining.

Less than 50% of the streambank surfaces covered by vegetation; disruption of streambank vegetation is very high; vegetation has been removed to 5 centimeters or less in average stubble height.

SCORE _____ (LB)

Left Bank       10    9

8   7     6

5   4    3

2   1    0

SCORE _____ (RB)

Right Bank    10    9

8   7     6

5   4    3

2   1    0

 

10. Riparian Vegetative Zone Width (score each bank riparian zone)

Width of riparian zone >18 meters; human activities (i.e., parking lots, roadbeds, clear-cuts, lawns, or crops) have not impacted zone.

Width of riparian zone 12-18 meters; human activities have impacted zone only minimally.

Width of riparian zone 6-12 meters; human activities have impacted zone a great deal.

Width of riparian zone <6 meters: little or no riparian vegetation due to human activities.

SCORE _____ (LB)

Left Bank       10    9

8   7     6

5   4    3

2   1    0

SCORE _____ (RB)

Right Bank    10    9

8   7     6

5   4    3

2   1    0

HABITAT SCORES

VALUE

OPTIMAL

160 - 200

SUB-OPTIMAL

110 - 159

MARGINAL

60 - 109

POOR

< 60




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