Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Watershed Sciences

Committee Chair(s)

Scott W. Miller (Committee Chair)


Scott W. Miller


Charles P. Hawkins


Sarah Null


Taxpayer dollars can be used more efficiently by land management agencies to monitor streams if agency-wide monitoring protocols are adopted. To address this issue, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) developed the National Aquatic Monitoring Framework (NAMF) to implement standardized assessments of stream condition and trend in the Western United States. As one of the first applications of the NAMF I sought to develop and apply an analytical framework to determine the biological condition of streams, extent of instream stressors and their impact on biological condition, and anthropogenic sources of stressors in Northeast California and Northwest Nevada over three years at a cost of $80,000. I measured biological, chemical, and physical attributes to determine the condition of streams at 70 spatially distributed random locations. I found 45% of BLM stream km in the study area have degraded biology, 68% have excessive total nitrogen (TN), 43% have canopy cover below expected conditions, and 37% have excessive total phosphorus (TP). Excessive TN and TP and degraded riparian complexity (RC) were most strongly related to degraded biological conditions. The occurrence of excess TN and TP was most associated with livestock grazing. RC was identified as a stressor, but was not associated with land uses. This study provides an example of the data and analytical approach needed to help the BLM adaptively manage streams and rivers in compliance with federal regulations while efficiently using taxpayer dollars.