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Intensively Monitored Watersheds


An Intensively Monitored Watershed (IMW) is an intensive watershed-scale research and monitoring effort. While a project-level effectiveness monitoring study might include a single restoration action implemented in several locations across the state, an IMW looks at an entire suite of restoration actions at a larger watershed scale. It achieves the level of sampling intensity necessary to evaluate the biological and physical responses to a set of management and restoration actions. This information is used by decision-makers in an effort to describe the relative success of programs and to inform future decisions about funding techniques and strategies.

IMWs are designed to answer questions such as:
  • Does the collective effect of restoration and/or management actions result in an improved watershed condition or population parameter of interest? Why or why not?
  • What are the causes of responses to restoration and/or management actions?
  • Are certain combinations of restoration and/or management actions more effective than others at delivering the intended responses?
  • Does the implementation sequence of restoration and/or management actions affect the attainment of the objectives?

OWEB has been working with the Pacific Northwest Aquatic Monitoring Partnership (PNAMP), the Oregon Plan Monitoring Team, state and federal agencies, and local groups to establish the appropriate mix of IMWs in Oregon and throughout the northwest.

Middle Fork John Day River IMW


OWEB in conjunction with tribal entities, state and federal agencies, and private organizations began an Intensively Monitored Watershed (IMW) in the upper Middle Fork of the John Day River. This IMW is aimed at determining the combined effects of different types of restoration actions on the physical and biological functions and processes of a watershed. The idea of an IMW requires a large amount of coordination from the constituents that are completing restoration and subsequent monitoring of these actions.

Middle Fork John Day River IMW Fact Sheet

Middle Fork John Day River Website

Project Summary

In 2007, discussions about forming the IMW study plan began and in 2008 data collection began. Initial monitoring activities were focused around Steelhead and Chinook salmon, stream temperature, riparian condition, and stream channel morphology. Socio-economic indicators were added in 2009. The plan was to conduct this monitoring for at least 10 years to identify a clear trend in the watershed. Results will be provided each year over the life of the project.

10-Year Final Summary Report

A Final Summary Report was completed in December 2017 that summarizes data collected from 2008 to 2016. This report represents 10 years of work by numerous agencies, organizations, and individuals conducting restoration, research, and monitoring activities in the upper Middle Fork John Day River. Each principal investigator and their co-authors wrote a final report, which represents the culmination of their research and monitoring. The reports were compiled, along with pertinent background information, into this final Summary Report. An extensive overview of MFIMW activities, key findings, and recommendations can be found in the Executive Summary.

For full details about a specific monitoring project including methods, analyses and results, readers can refer to Appendices B-M, which are compiled in a separate document. Links, bookmarks, and navigation have been provided, where possible, to ease in viewing this document electronically.

MFJDR IMW Final Report

Appendices B-M

Going Forward

OWEB will use information gathered from the efforts of the IMW to prioritize the frequency and distribution of restoration activities to protect and restore healthy watersheds.

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