RELATED ECOLOGY PROGRAMS
Puget Sound Characterization Project
What is a â€˜characterization?â€™
We use the term 'characterization' to describe the results of integrating information from several environmental assessments to provide an ecosystem view of the landscape. A characterization and other science-based information is useful for helping local governments develop:
Puget Sound Characterization
The Puget Sound Characterization is a regional-scale tool that highlights the most important areas to protect, and restore, and those most suitable for development. The program, funded by an EPA grant, is a collaborative effort between Ecology, the Puget Sound Partnership, and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The Characterization covers the entire Puget Sound drainage area — from the Olympic Mountains on the west to the Cascades on the east, including the San Juan Islands.
The Characterization includes watershed assessments of:
The assessments prioritize small watersheds, or habitat areas, relative to one another for their protection and restoration value.
Try out the new beta-website and web map application to learn more about Puget Sound Watershed Characterization.
The program uses a Watershed Characterization Technical Assistance Team to help guide planners on the interpretation and application of the assessment results in the Puget Sound region. This will ultimately improve land use decisions and conservation strategies for the protection, restoration, and conservation of the Soundâ€™s natural resources by providing:
The water flow and quality assessments for each of the large Puget Sound watersheds, or Water Resource Inventory Areas (WRIAs), are complete. Maps of the results and data for the water assessments are available for download on Ecology's GIS page for this project. The files are contained in a geodatabase that includes:
For a general introduction to the water assessments, see our guide for local planners: Puget Sound Watershed Characterization: Introduction to the Water Flow Assessment for Puget Sound, July 2010. This document provides examples of how planners can use the information for planning decisions and how it is currently being applied. It contains a general description of:
For a detailed description of the Characterization, see the final technical document: Puget Sound Characterization - Volume 1: The Water Resource Assessments (Water Flow and Water Quality). This document describes methods, models, and analyses for the water flow and water quality assessment of Puget Sound WRIAs, as well as methods and guidance for applying the model results.
The habitat assessment for the Puget Sound Basin are complete, and include models for:
The final document describing the habitat assessment methods, models, analyses, and guidance for application of results to Puget Sound watersheds was published in December 2013. See the final technical document: Puget Sound Watershed Characterization - Volume 2 (A Coarse-scale Assessment of the Relative Value of Small Drainage Areas and Marine Shorelines for the Conservation of Fish and Wildlife Habitats in Puget Sound Basin). Maps of the results and data for the habitat assessment are available for download on Ecology's GIS page for this project.
The Watershed Characterization Technical Assistance Team
With ongoing support from the Environmental Protection Agencyâ€™s National Estuary Program, an inter-agency group of technical experts and scientists from the Washington State Departments of Ecology, Fish & Wildlife and Commerce has been formed to:
Colin F. Hume, Coordinator
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