Identifying Habitat Loss, Prioritizing Restoration

The Takeaway: Local partners are working together to restore and preserve natural habitats.

The nonprofit Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership—supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program, the states of Oregon and Washington, and other entities—is working to preserve and restore the natural ecological habitats of the Lower Columbia River. An important initial step was to inventory the current quality and distribution of these habitats and compare this information against historical conditions.

NOAA’s coastal land cover data (C-CAP) was used for this purpose. The results provided useful insight into the extent of change and significant declines in vegetated tidal wetlands, and revealed that conversion of land for agriculture and urban development was the cause for most habitat loss. The partnership was able to identify various habitat types for recovery and protection for each portion of the river according to their relative extents of loss and their value in supporting various species. (2016)

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Partners: Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership, Sanborn Map Company