A geomorphic assessment of the Middle Fork John Day Watershed, Oregon, USA, was used to generate a hierarchical, map-based understanding of watershed impairments and potential opportunities for improvements. Specifically, we (1) assessed river diversity (character and behavior) and patterns of reach types (and their controls); (2) evaluated the geomorphic condition of the streams; (3) interpreted their geomorphic recovery potential; and (4) synthesized the above into a hypothetical, strategic management plan. Collectively, these maps can set bounds and provide realistic guidance for river rehabilitation, design and implementation efforts. Fifteen distinct reach types were identified, two-thirds of which are found along perennial streams. On the basis of a variety of geo-indicators, approximately two-thirds of all perennial stream reaches were found to be in ‘good’ geomorphic condition, whereas one-third had departed to ‘moderate’ and ‘poor’ condition. Departures from ‘good’ condition were primarily related to riparian vegetation removal, conversion of floodplain to agricultural land uses (farming and grazing), logging, and channel bed dredge mining for gold. Encouragingly, the majority of reaches classified as being in moderate geomorphic condition were found to have high recovery potential. While our geomorphic assessment has practical utility for informing physically realistic expectation management for efforts like salmonid habitat restoration, the maps themselves are the key vehicle for communicating and visualizing among stakeholders.
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- salmonid habitat
- geomorphic condition
- geomorphic recovery
- river styles