Habitat Analysis

Environmental Analysis Services

Habitat Analysis is more than a single species suitability profile.

Environmental Planning services offered by D&D Larix, LLC, address a broad range of planning needs using a variety of assessment tools. We deliver to you efficient and results-oriented planning sessions to meet your needs.

Resource Analysis Services

  • Endangered Species Assessments
  • Wetlands Analysis
  • Hydrologic Analysis
  • Watershed and other natural Resource Management Plans
  • Vegetation Mapping
  • Anadromous Fisheries Habitat Investigation
  • Forest Management Planning
  • Timber Volume Mapping
  • Wildlife & Fisheries Habitat Analysis and Reporting

Environmental analyses take on a different task for each organization seeking insights. Sometimes the focus might be on anadromous fisheries habitat sustainability or recovery, but secondary attention might be given to stream water-flow characteristics for downstream drinking water, or about riparian vegetation maturity.

In order to accomplish environmental resource analysis projects, we utilize analysis tools including field assessments & sampling, integrated planning committee collaboration, geospatial analysis, and econometrics. Planning projects involve integrated interactions with our clientele through team meetings, planning committee meetings, and strategic planning sessions. Our staff completes field data collection and integrates data collected by our clients and others, with detailed measurements of resource components (e.g., wildlife usage areas, plant species presence and coverage, soil mapping, wetlands extent, improvements, habitat suitability, and wildlife and fisheries usage).

Here are some examples of the projects we have implemented for clients, showing how resource characteristics were combined with scientific analyses, to reveal management opportunities.

Pacific Lamprey Habitat Suitability & Recovery

This analysis was conducted to assess usable spawning and rearing habitat for Pacific lamprey (Entosphenus tridentatus, formerly Lampetra tridentata) in Asotin Creek, Washington, a tributary to the Snake River. This analysis used an explicit geospatial model to quantify and qualify suitable habitat characteristics. Characteristics of usable habitat for Pacific lamprey were determined from a review of published literature for multiple species of lamprey, and through the assessment of juvenile Pacific lamprey in Asotin Creek during electrofishing surveys. All site visits were positionally recorded using Global Position System location recorders.

Geospatial data assembled for this project were analyzed using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT ver 2005) through an interface of the Automated Geospatial Watershed Assessment (AGWA) Tool (ver 2.0) within ESRI ArcMap/ArcINFO (ver. 9.3.1). These data and analyses tools provided estimated discharge for ungauged streams, sedimentation, siltation and nutrient rates, stream bed structure, geologic parent materials, and other components. These data were combined with habitat projections derived from existing geospatial data, spatial modeling results, and field observations. The analysis resulted in a combination of databases showing critical habitat features, maps showing the juxtaposition of favorable habitat within the Asotin Creek watershed, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data, and incorporated physical barriers to Pacific lamprey upstream passage.

SWAT software was used to predict the effects of management decisions on water, sediment, and nutrient yields. The SWAT model analysis was conducted using historical daily weather data (75 years), Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) soil survey data, US Geological Service (USGS) digital elevation model data (10 meter resolution), and vegetative cover to predict stream reach characteristics (width, depth, and velocity), sedimentation (and source contribution areas), surface runoff, return flow, percolation, evapotranspiration, transmission losses, reach routing, nutrient loading, and water transfer. Results were combined with gauged river basin data to calibrate the model.

This analysis was conducted to assess usable spawning and rearing habitat for Pacific lamprey (Entosphenus tridentatus, formerly Lampetra tridentata) in Asotin Creek, Washington, a tributary to the Snake River. This analysis used an explicit geospatial model to quantify and qualify suitable habitat characteristics. Characteristics of usable habitat for Pacific lamprey were determined from a review of published literature for multiple species of lamprey, and through the assessment of juvenile Pacific lamprey in Asotin Creek during electrofishing surveys. All site visits were positionally recorded using Global Position System location recorders.

Geospatial data assembled for this project were analyzed using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT ver 2005) through an interface of the Automated Geospatial Watershed Assessment (AGWA) Tool (ver 2.0) within ESRI ArcMap/ArcINFO (ver. 9.3.1). These data and analyses tools provided estimated discharge for ungauged streams, sedimentation, siltation and nutrient rates, stream bed structure, geologic parent materials, and other components. These data were combined with habitat projections derived from existing geospatial data, spatial modeling results, and field observations. The analysis resulted in a combination of databases showing critical habitat features, maps showing the juxtaposition of favorable habitat within the Asotin Creek watershed, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data, and incorporated physical barriers to Pacific lamprey upstream passage.

SWAT software was used to predict the effects of management decisions on water, sediment, and nutrient yields. The SWAT model analysis was conducted using historical daily weather data (75 years), Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) soil survey data, US Geological Service (USGS) digital elevation model data (10 meter resolution), and vegetative cover to predict stream reach characteristics (width, depth, and velocity), sedimentation (and source contribution areas), surface runoff, return flow, percolation, evapotranspiration, transmission losses, reach routing, nutrient loading, and water transfer. Results were combined with gauged river basin data to calibrate the model.

 

 

Anadromous Fisheries Habitat Analysis of Asotin Creek for Pacific Lamprey

Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska: Forest Volumetric Analysis using Remote Sensing

Tribal Allotments in Southeast Alaska are scattered over 39 million acres of southeast Alaska intermixed with USFS managed lands, State lands, private lands, and forest industry holdings. Most sites are accessible by boat only, and forest inventory data is non-existent on most of the parcels. The Central Council and the BIA wished to develop forest management standards to suit the needs of allotment holders and sustainable resource values for the Tribes.

Forest inventory data about each allotment was needed in order to accomplish both short-term and long-term goals. During the 2007 Intertribal Timber Council meeting in Polson, Montana, Randy Henry, of CCTHITA attended a session taught by Dr. William Schlosser, about Kriging and Variography used to make forest volumetric interpretations of forestlands over large areas using plot data, GIS-based resource information, and satellite imagery.

D&D Larix, the BIA, and the Central Council discussed the work plan and the needed outputs, then launched into an inventory analysis effort beginning in July 2008 and ending in December 2008 as we analyzed 48 million forestland acres.

The project resulted in creation of aerial imagery from the LANDSAT 7 ETM satellite, covering all of Southeast Alaska in 9 reflectance bands (including visible ‘aerial imagery-like’ scenes). These bands were combined with forest inventory plots collected over a 25 year period, to create ‘control’ points where satellite imagery could be combined with soil type, slope, elevation, and distance from streams, to estimate standing volume of timber by species. Extensive site data was used to ‘train the imagery’ by integrating over ¼ million tree records from USFS point sampling. These databases were imported into the Landscape Management System 3.1 for volumetric analysis from inventory date (1980-2006) to the analysis time (2008) using Forest Vegetation Simulator (SE Alaska variant).

Temporal linking of the site forest inventory tree data processed through the biometric Growth & Yield program created linkages to confirm tree species, density, and timber volume expected across this region, and specifically on tribal allotments.

Deliverables

  • Timber Volume by Species Predictions for each allotment
  • Total BF Volume (SE +/- 17%)
  • Species Composition for Hemlock & Spruce (SE +/- 25%)
  • Satellite imagery in color and IR mosaics for most of SE Alaska
  • Shreve Stream Order network for SE Alaska
  • A USGS generated soil layer in GIS linked to Site Index (Farr) by Geospatial Resource Analysis
  • USFS Plot data linked to locations (~36,000)

This process was necessary to account for the widely distributed Indian Allotment lands of Southeast Alaska, scattered over 49 million acres, and mostly only accessible by boat or helicopter. This ‘high elevation fly over’ approach provided the tribes and the BIA with the ability to target areas with predicted high timber volume for further ‘on the ground’ sampling efforts. It served as a first approach to land management analysis.

Mount Edgecumbe, Alaska

Plummer Creek Watershed Nutrient Management Plan Analysis

Completed in April 2009, this project was conducted in a cooperative effort of D&D Larix, LLC, and TerraGraphics Environmental Engineering, Inc., for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. Resource Analysis conducted the physical site attributes of the watershed investigation, nutrient contributions from soils, and estimated historic and potential future nutrient cycling to compare with the current site characteristics. These tools were integrated into GIS mapping results and tabular data for management recommendation purposes.

The City of Plummer is located within the Plummer Creek Watershed, within the western uplands of the drainage. This community is home to approximately 980 people living in roughly 380 households (Census 2009). Plummer is also the location of the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Headquarters and the Bureau of Indian Affairs offices. The City of Plummer is bisected by State Highway 95 running in a general north/south trajectory.

Purpose

The purpose of the Plummer Creek Watershed Nutrient Management Plan was to characterize the nutrient loading sources in the watershed and to identify target areas and land uses for nutrient and sediment loading reductions. Previous studies have documented dissolved oxygen concentrations violating Tribal and State water quality standards and high phosphorus levels (<5 µg/L to 88 µg/L) in the impounded area of the St. Joe River and its lateral lakes including Chatcolet Lake. Possible sources of the oxygen-demanding materials and high nutrient concentrations in Chatcolet Lake have been identified as adjacent tributaries, including Plummer Creek. The Plummer Creek Nutrient Management Plan allowed the Coeur d’Alene Tribe to update the current understanding of nutrient loading sources within the watershed and to delineate appropriate nutrient loading controls in the form of prescribing Best Management Practices (BMPs) for targeted subwatersheds and their land uses.

D&D Larix, LLC, derived a computerized spatial model of the Plummer Creek Watershed to aid in the determination of current loading and to identify relative reduction targets and target areas within the watershed for water quality improvement projects. The model included characterization of land uses within the watershed and focused on non-point sources of nutrient loading to Plummer Creek and Little Plummer Creek.

The City of Plummer is located within the Plummer Creek Watershed, within the western uplands of the drainage. This community is home to approximately 980 people living in roughly 380 households (Census 2009). Plummer is also the location of the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Headquarters and the Bureau of Indian Affairs offices. The City of Plummer is bisected by State Highway 95 running in a general north/south trajectory.

Watershed Description

The Plummer Creek watershed, with a drainage area of approximately 111.0 square kilometers (km2; equivalent to 42.9 square miles) and draining to Chatcolet Lake (and thus to Coeur d’Alene Lake). The watershed is located in Benewah County and Kootenai County, Idaho, as well as in the central portion of the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation. It includes two streams: Plummer Creek which is approximately 13.2 kilometer (km; equivalent to 8.2 miles) long, and Little Plummer Creek which is approximately 14.2 km (8.8 miles) long (Coeur d’Alene Tribe, 2009). The confluence of Little Plummer Creek and the mainstem of Plummer Creek is located approximately 3.7 km (2.3 miles) upstream of the mouth where Plummer Creek discharges to Chatcolet Lake. Elevations in the watershed range from approximately 649 meters (2,129 feet) at the mouth to 1,263 meters (4,144 feet) at Plummer Butte. General vegetation types in the watershed include approximately 85.1 km2 (32.9 square miles) of woods/forest or shrubs (76.1%), 18.8 km2 (7.26 square miles) cultivated wheat and bluegrass production (16.8 %), 5.3 km2 (2.0 square miles) of grasslands (4.7%), and 2.7 km2 (1.0 square mile) of developed land (2.4%).

Geospatial Resource Analysis used several analysis tools bound within the ArcGIS (ArcINFO) framework to complete these analyses, including the Automated Geospatial Watershed Assessment Tool (AGWA), spatial analyses, Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT), Shreve Stream Layer analysis tools, and combined them with onsite observations, measurements and analyses to derive the results used for this Nutrient Management Plan.

As a standard practice, all derived geospatial data were delivered to our client, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe at the conclusion of the project.