Quantifying the restoration success of wood introductions to increase coho salmon winter habitat
Large wood (LW) addition is often part of fish habitat restoration projects. However, there is limited information about the spatial–temporal variability in hydraulic changes after LW additions. We investigated reach-scale hydraulic changes triggered after the addition of LW that are relevant to juvenile coho salmon survival. We used Nays2DH, an unsteady two-dimensional flow model, to quantify the patterns and magnitudes of changes of stream velocity and shear stress in three alluvial gravel reaches. The study sites are located in low-gradient reaches draining 5 to 16 km2 in the Oregon Coast Range. Survivable habitat was characterized in terms of critical swim speed for juvenile coho and bed stability considering the critical shear stress required to mobilize the median bed particle size. Model predictions indicated that survivable habitat during bankfull conditions, measured as the area with velocity below the critical swim speed for juvenile coho, increased by 95 %–113 % after the LW restoration. Bed stability also increased between 86 % and 128 % considering the shear stress required to mobilize the median bed particle size. Model predictions indicated more habitat created in the larger site; however, considering that wood would move more frequently in this site there appears to be a trade-off between the timing and the resilience of restoration benefits. Overall, this study quantifies how the addition of LW potentially changes stream hydraulics to provide a net benefit to juvenile salmonid habitat. Our findings are applicable to stream restoration efforts throughout the Pacific Northwest.