Ecosystem Monitoring

Comprehensive environmental monitoring provides an effective way to understand river conditions and assess the effectiveness of management actions over time. It also serves to fill data gaps, pinpoint problem areas, and assure compliance with water quality standards. As part of its Management Plan, the Estuary Partnership laid out a Monitoring Strategy for implementing sustained long term monitoring of the Lower Columbia River.  Monitoring began in 2003, and has continued annually, with funding from the Bonneville Power Administration. The Estuary Partnership's role has been to coordinate the collection of water quality, habitat, and restoration effectiveness monitoring data, as well as the creation of additional mapping products which support ongoing monitoring and help characterize the ecosystem.

Habitat Monitoring

On the ground habitat monitoring by the Estuary Partnership falls into two general categories: 

Ecosystem Condition (Status and Trends) monitoring

Restoration Effectiveness monitoring

These monitoring data provide important information to scientists and managers to help improve and protect the lower Columbia ecosystem.  Analysis of several years of monitoring data has helped scientists begin to understand the river's dynamic and complex ecosystem interactions, and the implications for plant and animal species that live in its watershed.

Habitat Mapping

In addition to on the ground monitoring, the Estuary Partnership has overseen the development of key habitat mapping products which have been funded through its monitoring program.  These data sets provide further characterization of river habitats, and have helped to inform site selection for on the ground monitoring locations.  Most of these data sets are, or will soon be accessible through our Downloadable GIS data.  Some of the key habitat mapping products that have been developed by the Estuary Partnership in recent years include the following:

Columbia River Estuary Ecosystem Classification

2010 High Resolution Land Cover

Historical Habitat Change Analysis

2010 Lower Columbia Elevation Model

2006 Shoreline Condition Inventory

Fish Monitoring

Beginning in the summer of 2014 we have been documenting fish presence in tributaries of the mainstem Columbia within the Columbia River Gorge, using underwater video. The intent is to highlight the importance of these cold water habitats to juvenile salmon during the summer months, when mainstem Columbia River temperatures exceed the preferred range for these species. Since these streams are being utilized by fish, they are important for protection as well as restoration in areas where this might be applicable. We plan to expand coverage into the mainstem Columbia as well as downstream tributaries as time and resources allow.

To view video segments for different stream locations, please visit our Fish Observation map page

Monitoring Coordination and Protocols

The Estuary Partnership's monitoring program is a collaborative effort, and is part of a much larger environmental monitoring effort in the Lower Columbia.  Please check back soon for more information about coordinated monitoring efforts in the lower Columbia River and estuary.

Level 3 Action Effectiveness Monitoring Workshop