An Evaluation of Land Cover Change from 2006 to 2009 and the Effectiveness of Certain Conservation Land Use Tools Within Lake Washington/Cedar/Sammamish Watershed (WRIA 8) Riparian Buffers
Jensen, Katrina Conlon
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Riparian areas are fundamental to the ecological health for salmon recovery in the Pacific Northwest. Efforts to protect riparian areas for salmon recovery have typically focused on public land acquisitions and habitat restoration projects to meet near-term goals. This study evaluates the effectiveness of regulatory and voluntary conservation land use tools used for protecting riparian areas in the Lake Washington/Cedar/Sammamish watershed (Water Resource Inventory Area 8 [WRIA 8]) based on the presence or absence of land cover change. Aerial imagery from 2006 to 2009 and a vegetation change model developed by Kenneth Pierce with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife were used to characterize land cover change. In the last decade, new and more stringent land use regulatory tools and voluntary land use incentives have been established to help advance long-term strategies, such as conservation easements, transfer of development rights, Urban Growth Areas (UGA), and Critical Areas Ordinance (riparian buffers). The absence of land cover change in the riparian areas of parcels with conservation easements and TDRs are positive indicators that these conservation land use tools can be an effective alternative approach for advancing salmon recovery efforts. The presence of land cover change due to development and transportation projects associated with public and private lands inside the UGA was more than expected. Evaluating the effectiveness of riparian buffers administered by the local jurisdictions of WRIA 8 proved challenging, as jurisdictions and landowners are allowed to mitigate the riparian buffer width permitting variations. There is still much to learn on how jurisdictions are applying these new land use tools and how well they are working.
- Urban planning