August 19, 2009

New monitoring system used by USDA

The Wildlife Conservation Society says a monitoring system it uses to measure stream habitat has been adopted by a U.S. agency working to restore waterways.

The conservation group said the technique, used in a study to rapidly measure stream habitat, has been adopted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resource Conservation Service to assess streams across the United States.

Society officials said their study, which looked at riparian areas in semi-arid eastern Oregon, examined two simple and quick vegetation measurements: the average height and width of woody vegetation such as willows along a flood plain.

The results showed that increases in woody vegetation led to a greater diversity and abundance of riparian birds, including yellow warblers and song sparrows, officials said.

The technique used in that study is now being used to restore and protect million of miles of streams that flow through private lands, the society said.

The system and the study were reported in the July issue of the journal Environmental Management.