This project identifies priority areas in the Columbia Plateau Ecoregion to implement conservation strategies for riverine and riparian habitat. This is tailored towards the Arid Lands Initiative (ALI) conservation goals and objectives, and provides the foundation for adaptation to a changing climate. This project adopts a “zoned” approach to identifying focal areas, connectivity management zones and zones for riparian habitat and ecological representation. Through a series of workshops and webinars, the ALI articulated its freshwater conservation goals and targets. Key aspects of these goals included: a focus on non-anadromous salmonid (salmon and steelhead) species, include riparian birds and waterfowl as key species in freshwater zones, and making ecological representation of different riverine types part of the project. The methods to spatially identify a conservation design in pursuit of the ALI’s goals was developed through a series of one-one-one interviews with freshwater scientists across multiple agencies, universities and NGOs. The spatially-explicit conservation planning tool, Marxan, was used to identify areas that are irreplaceable to meet ALI goals in an efficient solution. The results of the Marxan analysis were further classified to identify focal areas, connectivity zones and riparian and representation zones. The results of this analysis can be used to complement the ALI’s prioritization of terrestrial systems.
As an alternative approach to visualize the analysis results, Figure 12 was simplified by representing major river as lines, rather than polygon Assessment Units. This provides an output that is more readily understandable from a riverine and riparian standpoint. Also, this will provide more digestible cartographic output when overlaid with the terrestrial priority area (Figure 13, below). This map also excludes some of the smallest tributaries.