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Testing Methods to Improve Monitoring of Riparian Habitat Restoration Performance at Multiple Scales; Bruce Orr

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2021 Conference
Testing Methods to Improve Monitoring of Riparian Habitat Restoration Performance at Multiple Scales 
Bruce Orr1*, Rafael Real de Asua2, Zooey Diggory3, Doug Titus4, Megan Keever5 
1Stillwater Sciences, Berkeley, CA, USA; 
2Stillwater Sciences, Berkeley, CA, USA; 
3Valley Water, San Jose, CA, USA; 
4Valley Water, San Jose, CA, USA; 
5Stillwater Sciences, Berkeley, CA, USA; 
Improving our ability to monitor the performance of mitigation and restoration projects (here loosely defined to include projects that may involve habitat creation, rehabilitation, enhancement, or true historical restoration) in an accurate and cost-effective manner is a critical need for effective conservation and adaptive management in river-riparian ecosystems throughout the western United States and beyond. We initiated a pilot study on the Guadalupe River (San Jose, CA) to compare standard field survey methods for monitoring vegetation with methods based on remote sensing data (multispectral imagery and LiDAR) for a variety of riparian habitat mitigation sites of varying ages (from recently implemented sites to some that are now over 20 years old) and sizes (from individual sites of a few acres on up to reach and river corridor scales that may cover 100s of acres or more). Aside from our general interest in exploring more cost-effective approaches that combine field data collection with remote sensing to assess performance metrics, this pilot project was motivated by challenges associated with the pandemic that prevented access to some sites that were required to be monitored in 2020. 
Given the various objectives for the long-term monitoring program, the focus of the pilot study was on testing and comparing methods for monitoring changes in shaded riverine habitat (aquatic habitat shaded by overhead riparian vegetation) and riparian vegetation and habitat (e.g., plant cover, canopy height, and vertical vegetation structure that affects habitat suitability for key focal species). In addition, we are exploring the ability of high-resolution aerial LiDAR to detect ground disturbance, and artificial structures associated human recreational use and encampments. We will discuss our preliminary findings and ideas regarding the costs and benefits associated with field surveys and remote sensing, with the goal of finding more optimal combinations of both approaches for monitoring at various spatial and temporal scales. 

RiversEdge West's

mission is to advance the restoration of riparian lands through collaboration, education, and technical assistance.



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