A Newsletter from StreamNet
A Fish Data Delivery Project for the Pacific Northwest
Issue #13 - May 16, 2011
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Welcome to the thirteenth StreamNet News!
In the time since the last StreamNet Newsletter we have made significant improvements and changes in the data available, your online experience, and the behind-the-scenes programming that makes it possible. This newsletter tells about some of these significant changes.
Table of Contents
- New Feature in the Online Query System
- StreamNet Data Store News
- StreamNet Supporting Coordinated Assessments
- An Update on Montana's Crucial Areas Assessment and Planning System
- Microsoft Access Version of the StreamNet Database Updated
1. NEW FEATURE IN THE ONLINE QUERY SYSTEM
We have added a new way to select a stream or dam for which you want data.
Previously when using StreamNet's query system to select a stream or dam by name, a web browser would be unable to display the many thousands of names that could sometimes be returned by the query system. Therefore the list had to be narrowed down by selecting other criteria before a web page could be sent to you. We initially required that the list be under 500 streams before you could select a stream. When computers became faster in recent years we increased that maximum to 1000 streams.
We have implemented a new approach that eliminates this issue.
Today if you attempt to select a stream of interest and the matching list is over 1000 streams, you will be presented with a box in which you can type the name of the stream of interest. Once you type in the first 3 letters you will be presented with a list of streams that match what you have typed. Continue to type to further refine the list. To help you find the correct stream, matches are grouped by state, and we show what body of water each match flows into, as well as what body of water that flows into. For example, "Salmon River, trib to Snake River (which is a trib of the Columbia River)". To see it in action, begin a query by selecting the "Stream" criterion first. When the text box shows, begin to type in a common stream name such as "Rock Creek" or "Meadow Creek" or "Salmon Creek". The list that shows up will easily let you find the exact one you are interested in. Streams for which we have data show up as links, while streams for which we do not have data show up as regular text.
The same functionality has been added to the Dams criterion.
We hope these changes help to simplify use of the query system and help you more quickly and easily find the data of interest to you.
2. STREAMNET DATA STORE NEWS
Despite the existence of various regional-scale fish data sharing projects in the Pacific Northwest, there are many types of data for which no regional system is specifically designed. Examples of regional data sharing systems include:
- The Regional Mark Processing Center, which deals with anadromous salmonids that have had coded wire tags implanted and with hatchery releases, and serves an international audience of researchers and managers concerned with salmon and steelhead harvest.
- PTAGIS, which manages PIT tag data in the Columbia River system.
- The Pacific Northwest Water Quality Exchange, which is for sharing water quality data.
- And StreamNet's main database, which contains a variety of types of data, many dealing with fish abundance and distribution.
But where can you store, and find, data sets that don't fit in any of the regional databases?
The StreamNet Data Store is an excellent place to archive and share fish-related data sets that do not fit in any of the standard regional data systems. For example, recent additions to the Data Store include trout genetics data from Montana, fish population surveys in Montana, and a Washington State University innovative project to store winter precipitation. The Data Store can be found at http://old.streamnet.org/datastore_search.cfm. For projects with a contractual obligation to share data sets, the StreamNet Data Store lets you fulfill this requirement quickly and easily. This is becoming more common for projects funded by the Bonneville Power Administration and other funding entities.
The Data Store was recently improved in three ways.
The first improvement makes it easier to send data sets to the Data Store. The Data Publishing Service, which is used to describe a data set and send it to the Data Store, previously was a Windows program that had to be installed on a computer. The need to install the program caused problems for employees of agencies which do not allow the installation of outside software by employees. The new version -- which came out March 24 -- is Internet-based, so there is nothing to install. The new version also provides greater flexibility in how files are submitted to the Data Store. It also provides greater control over data set files and data set descriptions, allowing you to update files or descriptions easily.
The second improvement speeds the process of describing the data. Users whose email address is in BPA's CBFISH (Taurus) system will find that their contact information has already been entered for them in the required format.
The third improvement is somewhat esoteric, but important and very useful. When describing a data set, information such as the type(s) of data, the geographic scope covered, species described by the data set, and contact person for the data set are recorded. Such information that describes a data set is called "metadata." The old Data Store and Data Publishing Service did not quite meet federal standards for data set descriptions (the "FGDC metadata standard"). The new Data Publishing Service guides you through completion of data set descriptions that fully meet FGDC standards, and provides some tools to quicken the process. Understanding and using the FGDC metadata standard for biological data sets can be a daunting task and usually requires a several-day training course to accomplish, as well as specialized software. The StreamNet Data Publishing Service is designed to meet the needs of most biologists: those of us who are not GIS or metadata experts, and who need to describe a biological, physical, or chemical data set rather than a GIS layer, and do so in a reasonable amount of time. The Data Publishing Service guides you through filling out the most important aspects of the data set descriptions, while the complexities are kept hidden. The many non-required and conditionally required items found in the FGDC metadata standard that are not applicable to fisheries data sets are avoided, while some of the complex items are simplified. People who have used the Data Publishing Service usually report that it takes only 15 to 20 minutes to complete a data set description and send the data set to StreamNet's Data Store.
If you have a requirement to share data sets, or if you simply wish to archive one or more data sets and make them available to all so they are not lost, the StreamNet Data Store and associated Data Publishing Service is an excellent resource for you.
3. STREAMNET SUPPORTING COORDINATED ASSESSMENTS
The state and tribal fisheries management agencies in the Columbia Basin are currently working collaboratively to develop a coordinated approach to anadromous fish population monitoring. In support of that effort, the Coordinated Assessments project is assisting the agencies to determine their current capability for providing three Viable Salmonid Population (VSP) indicators to support regional reporting under the hydrosystem Biological Opinion (the "BiOp"), ESA recovery assessments and other regional reporting mechanisms, and to plan for improved indictor reporting in the future. The project is being led by the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority (CBFWA) and the Pacific Northwest Aquatic Monitoring Partnership (PNAMP), with StreamNet playing a significant supporting role.
StreamNet, with support from BPA, has hired ten temporary data specialists who are currently working with nine state and tribal fisheries management programs to determine the availability of the three selected VSP indicators, obtain those indicators where they are readily available, describe data pathways within the respective agencies, assist the agencies to identify gaps and needs for reporting these indicators, and assist the agencies to begin developing data sharing strategies. StreamNet's organizational approach to data acquisition by supporting data management staff within its partner agencies dovetailed well with the needs of the Coordinated Assessments.
Progress toward obtaining the indicators and describing the data flow and analysis pathways was presented to a Coordinated Assessments workshop held by PNAMP and CBFWA on April 21. With the Coordinated Assessments project near its midpoint, ongoing work will include increased emphasis on describing the gaps and needs agencies will need to overcome to make sharing of these indicators a routine business practice, and to assist the agencies as they develop strategies for satisfying those needs.
StreamNet is pleased to be able to use its relationships with PNAMP, CBFWA, the state fish and wildlife agencies, the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, and the tribal fisheries programs to assist the Coordinated Assessments. Our intent is to help upgrade data management capacities within the region's fisheries management agencies so that regional data sharing can be improved.
4. AN UPDATE ON MONTANA'S CRUCIAL AREAS ASSESSMENT AND PLANNING SYSTEM
Montana's Crucial Areas Assessment and Planning System (CAPS) is a mapping service created by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks aimed at future planning for a variety of development and conservation purposes so fish, wildlife, and recreational resources can be considered earlier in land management planning and decision making. CAPS won a special achievement award from the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. CAPS was created by many people in Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, including StreamNet's Montana Project Leader. Fisheries data available from CAPS were generated from the Montana Fisheries Information System (MFISH), Montana's StreamNet component. CAPS can be found at http://fwp.mt.gov/wildthings/conservationInAction/crucialAreas.html.
Since its creation, CAPS has already:
- Created digital GIS-layer maps depicting important species and habitat information.
- Assessed risks to fish, wildlife, and their habitats.
- Created management guidelines and examples for residential development, energy development, and transportation projects.
- Developed partnerships with government, industry, county planners, and non-government organizations to develop implementation strategies and facilitate integration of CAPS into their planning processes.
Local, regional, and statewide decision makers, developers, and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks staff understand that it's important to have easy access to practical tools and information early in the planning process. CAPS helps make this easier.
5. MICROSOFT ACCESS VERSION OF THE STREAMNET DATABASE UPDATED
An updated Microsoft Access version of the StreamNet database was posted on December 29, 2010, and again on May 3, 2011. Both versions include twelve example queries that demonstrate how to dereference coded information with lookup tables, but users will typically want to customize these queries for their own interests and for building specific reports. Note that the Access database does not have a user interface or dynamic features like those that are part of the online query system and interactive mappers found on the StreamNet web site. It is primarily intended for use by "power users" engaged in regional scale analyses. Use of this database requires significant experience using Access, and most users will find the online systems more suited to their needs. You can find this updated database, as well as previous versions, on our database download page at http://old.streamnet.org/downloaddatabase.html.
Both updates include new count data; the May 3 update includes an updated Reference table. The December 29 update was a milestone, being the first georeferenced to the latest mixed scale hydrography (version 2) used on the online query system. These versions also contain updates to some LocationID values, so users will need to be careful if integrating a new database with a data set developed from a previous version.
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ABOUT THE STREAMNET PROJECT:
StreamNet is a cooperative, multi-agency effort among the Columbia River Basin's state, tribal, and federal fisheries agencies, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (NPCC), the Bonneville Power Administration, and the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission to compile fish-related data. We compile and make available on our web site information intended to be useful to fisheries managers and researchers, land managers, planners, and others. We acquire, regionally standardize, and georeference data from multiple sources on a number of topics, including fish distribution, fish abundance trends, hatchery returns, harvest levels, migration barriers, hatcheries, and dams. We provide a catalog of photographs relevant to fish species and facilities in the region. Through our "Data Publishing Service" and "Data Store" we archive and provide access to stand-alone data sets created by other entities. We maintain a standard GIS hydrography layer for the Pacific Northwest. We maintain the official list of stream reaches the NPCC has recommended be protected from dam construction. We provide pre-made maps and let you make maps interactively from data in the StreamNet database to meet your needs. We continually work to update these resources, so new information becomes available several times each year. We also provide customized data-related services for participants in the NPCC's Fish and Wildlife Program.
You can learn more about StreamNet at http://old.streamnet.org/about.html. We exist in order to bring useful information to people such as you, and we welcome your questions, feedback, and suggestions. We also hope you will inform your colleagues about the resources available at StreamNet (http://old.streamnet.org).
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