Anadromous Fish Run Siting Model - Overview

The selection tool first reduces the number of sites considered based on the user-supplied target species and area of interest. The user then identifies desirable attributes for their specific restoration goals in terms of socioeconomic and environmental factors.

Socioeconomic Considerations

Socioeconomic Consideration Graphic InterfaceEach of the socioeconomic factors requires input from the user regarding what it is about the factor that makes it desirable. For example, population numbers will be divided into classes based on natural breaks in the data and the user will provide a rank order of which population description is the most desirable, next to most desirable, etc. The individual user will have to know their specific situation well and provide the tool with inputs that are relevant to the individual situation. Users who do not know whether one factor is desirable or not or where an appropriate threshold is should consult with a local expert.

Once the desirable factor has been defined, the tool will analyze the data for each of the potential sites and provide a relative rank for each site compared to all the others. Once all factors have been ranked, the user must assign relative weights to each of the factors. Each site will have its rank compared to its weight, and the site priorities will be rearranged based on the relative weights. The results will provide a priority listing for the sites that most closely meet the user's desirable characteristics scored down to those that meet these characteristics the least.

Population
Understanding that some funding opportunities are geared toward urban or rural restoration sites, the site selection tool allows the user to choose whether to prioritize sites based on the population of the census block groups that are adjacent to the project site. In addition to funding opportunities, population considerations might be important to target if a public agency is looking to distribute its restoration activities equitably across various population levels.

Sites are ranked based upon the population density surrounding each habitat site. The average area population density is computed from the Persons Per Square Mile statistic of every census block group within a 400-feet radius of the site. Users should select a priority for each level of population. Rural is defined as the lowest third of the population, suburban as the middle third, and urban as the highest third, with the thresholds established at standard deviations. If all populations should be considered equally, all three categories are assigned to the highest priority. Sites that match the users preferences of very high are assigned a value of 1, high 0.8, moderate 0.6, low 0.4 and very low 0.2. Those that do not match at all are assigned a value of 0. If population is not important to the user, this variable can be disregarded.

Income
Recognizing that some funding opportunities are geared toward sites that meet certain environmental justice criteria, the tool allows the user to choose whether to prioritize sites based on the income of the census block-groups that are adjacent to the actual project site.

Sites are ranked based upon the level of household income for the neighborhood surrounding each habitat site. The average area income is computed from the Median Household Income statistic of every census block group within a 400-feet radius of the site. Users should select a priority for each level of income in dollars. If all income levels should be considered equally, all three categories should be assigned to the highest priority. Sites that match the user's preferences of very high are assigned a value of 1, high 0.8, moderate 0.6, low 0.4 and very low 0.2. Those that do not match at all are assigned a value of 0. If income is not important to the user, this variable can be disregarded.

Historical dam site
To allow a user to capitalize on restoration of sites that are considered within a historic setting, sites can be prioritized because they are located in a historical district. Users should determine whether this aspect of a dam is important to them or not. Selecting no is the same as disregarding.

Nearby school
Many restoration projects are used as a mechanism to increase awareness and educate youth about environmental protection. The ability to bring school children to a local site may be preferential for some projects.

Sites can be prioritized based upon their proximity to public schools. Users should select the distance they want to search for a school (in feet). Sites within that distance are given a point for this feature; sites beyond the distance are given a 0. If a nearby school is not important to the user, this variable can be disregarded.

Nearby public water access
Access to a fish run may also be important in selecting a restoration site, with access presenting an opportunity for disturbance or even additional public outreach opportunities. Sites are prioritized based upon their proximity to public water access (parks, wildlife refuges, beaches, fishing sites, boat ramps, pathways, and views). Users select the distance they want to search for a water access point (in feet). Sites within that distance are given a value of 1; sites beyond the distance are given a value of 0. If nearby public access is not important to the user, this variable can be disregarded.

Adjacent public land
Like public access, the proximity to public land may be important to some when selecting restoration sites. Public access may allow for additional outreach opportunities, and different funding opportunities may be available on public land as opposed to private lands.

Sites are prioritized based upon their proximity to public land. Users select the distance they want to search for public land (in feet). Sites within that distance are given a value of 1 for this feature; sites beyond the distance are given a value of 0. If public land presence is not important to the user, this variable can be disregarded.

Dam ownership
Restoration implementation can be driven by the ownership of the dam. Dams can be held in private or public ownership, and this criterion might be an important consideration in choosing a restoration site. Dam ownership is derived from the file damowner.dbf provided with the installation.

The tool ranks sites on the basis of being publicly or privately owned. Users should select their preference for a public or private dam. Sites matching the users preference are given a value of 1; others are given a value of 0. If dam ownership is not important to the user, this variable can be disregarded.

Environmental Considerations

Environmental Consideration Graphic InterfaceEach of the environmental factors requires input from the user regarding what it is about the factor that makes it desirable. For example, several water quality impairments will be listed. Users select which known impairments make a site desirable, which could be potentially due to funding source or ease of restoration. The individual user will have to know his specific situation well and provide inputs that are relevant to the individual situation. Users who do not know whether one factor is desirable or not or where an appropriate threshold is should consult with a local expert.

Once the desirable factor has been defined, the tool will analyze the data for each of the potential sites and provide a relative rank for each site compared to all the others. Once all factors have been ranked, users must assign relative weights to each of the factors. Each site's rank will be compared to its weight, and the site priorities will be rearranged based on the relative weights. The results will provide a priority listing for the sites that most closely meet the desirable characteristics scored down to those that meet these characteristics the least.

Impervious surface in watershed
Anadromous fish run restoration can play a role in a larger restoration scheme that attempts to restore ecological balance to a watershed. One critical element in watershed management is the amount of impervious surface within a watershed. In a natural environment, water in precipitation reaches the ground and percolates into the soil where it flows into underground aquifers or empties into streams. As humans increasingly harden the watershed, covering the soil with concrete, asphalt, and roofs, water can no longer enter the subsurface system. This increases the energy of a drop of water as it rolls down the landscape, and often causes additional erosion as the water flows faster downhill. Because the water no longer infiltrates into the soil, it empties directly into surface water bodies, and it often carries particulates with it – such as small grains of sediment, nutrients, or even contaminants. In addition to water flowing faster, impervious surfaces can lead to issues of water quality because of what the water carries. If the water quality diminishes, there can then be habitat concerns for species that live in the water.

Users may choose to prioritize sites within a watershed with a desired level of impervious surface. The ranges are generally accepted breakdowns: 0 to 10 percent impervious surface, 10 to 25 percent impervious surface, and >25 percent impervious surface. Sites that lie within watersheds with desired impervious surface levels will receive a value of 1; others will receive a value of 0. This variable may be disregarded if it is not applicable.

Water quality impairment
Water quality can become impaired for many reasons – nutrients, sediments, bacteria, heavy metals, or several other factors as captured in statewide water quality impairment data (often referred to as "303(d)" data). Should users wish to target a site based on a particular known impairment, they may do so with this criterion.

Sites that have the same water quality impairment factors that the user has chosen from the list receive a non-zero score. The score is scaled from 0 to 1 so that the rating is a proportion of the criteria that a site meets as compared to the criteria selected by the user. For example, if the user checks five of the boxes, and a site contains three of the five desired features, the site will score a 0.6 for water quality impairment. This variable may be disregarded if it is not applicable.

Assign Relative Weights

Relative Weighting Graphic InterfaceThe user has an opportunity next to provide relative rankings for each desired parameter. The relative weight of each parameter is multiplied by the score (as described previously). The results for each site are summed to create a final ranking.

Results can be displayed in a number of ways, including by the simple results of the user's input. Results also can be summarized by the height of the dam (a surrogate for cost), the type of restoration required, or the number of dams downstream that still provide a blockage to fish passage.