Bainbridge Island Land Trust - Working together to protect the Island's natural resources
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The Bainbridge Island Land Trust protects and preserves private property as well as acquires land for parks and trails.
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The Bainbridge Island Land Trust protects and preserves private property as well as acquires land for parks and trails.

WFC Stream Type Assessment

Bainbridge Island Stream Type Assessment 

Where are the streams on Bainbridge Island and what fish can be found in them?  What about these streams make them so special, or what efforts need to take place to help them regain their full capacity to thrive as healthy natural systems?  In an effort to help answer these questions, and to guide our protection and restoration efforts with landowners and others, the Land Trust has taken the lead and worked in partnership with others to implement two stream focused projects on Bainbridge Island.
A new map of Bainbridge Island streams and our fish resources is now available online HERE!

Stream Type Assessment

In 2014, in partnership with the Land Trust, Wild Fish Conservancy (WFC) conducted a stream type assessment (inventory) of the island's watersheds as part of a regional effort to more accurately assess and identify fish bearing streams and their habitat.  For the Land Trust, understanding where these valuable natural resources are on the island is an important tool needed to guide strategic restoration and protection efforts in cooperation with landowners and other partners. The effort was funded by the state Salmon Recovery Funding Board, in recognition of the importance of protecting or restoring these fish resources.

Watertyping (stream typing) classification was originally developed for forest practices and then was subsequently adopted by most local governments to identify and protect critical areas. Most streams were not "typed" based on physical features of the stream or on-site inspection, but instead from a coarse statewide remote mapping process.  The result has been that many streams were incorrectly classified (fish or non-fish bearing), mismapped, or were not on the maps at all.

Beginning February 2014, WFC and the Land Trust sent over 1025 postcards to Island landowners adjacent or in close proximity to streams (as mapped in the past) asking for permission for a survey team to enter properties to inventory the stream - real boots on the ground to physically document the features of our streams and to see who was living in those streams.  While 520 landowners did not respond, we received permission from over 340 landowners (thank you!). 

Water Type Assessments and Interactive Maps

Wild Fish Conservancy's field biologist Aaron Jorgenson led stream-typing efforts on Bainbridge Island with the assistance of Molly Esteve, 2013-2014 BILT AmeriCorps member and Deb Rudnick, BILT board member and BI Watershed Council Chair. From March to June, 2014 we successfully:

  • Collected over 720 GPS points
  • Took over 2,500 photos
  • Typed approximately 47 stream miles
  • Inventoried over 300 in-stream structures (such as culverts and diversion dams)
  • Caught and released over 100 fish, including Coho, Chum, Cutthroat Trout, Rainbow Trout, Stickleback and Sculpin. 
The result of all these efforts is displayed on easy to view maps on Wild Fish Conservancy's website.
You can navigate the map to view typed streams in Kitsap County, including Bainbridge Island. For more information on specific typed streams, simply click on the reach you'd like to know more about. Click on photos on the left hand side for specific information on observed fish barriers and other stream features.
The chart below shows the original number of Island stream miles as mapped using the old technique (WA Dept. of Natural Resources Maps), and the results from the 2014 WFC survey.

  Department of Natural
Resources (DNR)
Wild Fish Conservancy  % Increase 
 Stream Miles  26.6  47.3  79%
 Fish-Bearing Stream Miles  19.3  38.2  98%
 Non-Fish Stream Miles  7.3  9.1  25%

Why Stream Typing?

In 1975, the Washington Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) developed the process of water typing, classifying streams into one of five types depending on their physical, biological, and human-use characteristics. Fish-bearing stream reaches are classified as Type 1, 2, or 3 according to fish abundance and physical characteristics of the stream channel; Type-4 and Type-5 streams are considered non fish-bearing.

Accurate water typing is essential to protecting fish and their habitats because Type classification guides the proximity of allowable human activity to streams and other surface water. Riparian buffer zones required on Type-2 streams, for example, are broader than those required on Type-4 streams.

In 1997, WDNR revised its criteria for classifying streams as fish-bearing and upgraded protections for waters identified as non fish-bearing. Current DNR watertype maps many times under-represent the upstream extent of fish and fish habitat, and many streams are mapped incorrectly or not at all, and therefore streams may not receive adequate protection from water quality degradation associated with adjacent land use practices.

Under its Habitat Lost & Found program, Wild Fish Conservancy has, since 1994, been performing field surveys on streams throughout Washington.  Visit their website to learn more about their organization.  


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