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Policy and Management for Headwater Streams in the Pacific Northwest: Synthesis and Reflection

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The primary policy and management concern for headwater streams in the Pacific Northwest has been their potential influence on downstream water quality and fish habitat; and on federal lands, riparian wildlife habitat also has been a significant consideration. Regulations have been the primary policy tool used by state and federal agencies in the region to promote desired management for these areas, and to comply with federal laws for water quality and species protection. Management directives initially were relatively minor for headwater areas, but in recent years increased science assessments, research, and legal issues resulted in some notable policy proposals and changes for public and private lands. These measures focus on greater retention of riparian trees and other vegetation, an approach that for fish and wildlife habitat assumes significant ecological functions and benefits will follow over extended spatial and temporal intervals. Research continues to clarify ecological features and functions of headwater areas, but policy and management remain challenging because of highly variable observations downstream and because socioeconomic concerns are inconsistently addressed. Given these limitations, our policies may continue to confound decisionmakers and discourage many forest owners and managers, while also adding to an array of unintended local and global environmental consequences.

Keywords: federal laws; landowners; regulations; riparian buffers

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Paul W. Adams, Forest Engineering Department, College of Forestry, Oregon State University, 204 Peavy Hall, Corvallis, OR 97333—, Fax: (541) 737-4316, Email:

Publication date: 2007-04-01

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
    Ranking: 16 of 66 in forestry

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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