Tag Archives: assessment

DeClassified: Why Proper Assessment Is Key

Copyright Trout Headwaters Inc 2013 YR (3)At Trout Headwaters we put a lot of emphasis on stream, wetland and habitat assessment.  Our unwavering belief in scientifically-sound assessments of natural resources and habitats led us to develop patented systems, process and methods RiverWorks Rapid Assessment System® and the environmental big data system EcoBlu Analyst.

As practicioners will attest, simple classification systems and models are no substitute for proven, thorough assessment techniques or good data or appropriate multi-disciplinary restoration design. Our streams, wetlands and other habitats are simply far too important.

A noteworthy 2005 article by several prominent scientists commenting on a then-popular classification system and restoration strategy concluded: “Practitioners concerned with professional liability and with the future of their professions would do well to provide design services based on peer-reviewed professional standards.”

We’d argue that the key to real restoration lies in removing human-caused disturbances and providing for sustainable, adaptive and long-term resource management. Successful projects start with thorough assessment.


Experience EcoBlu Questionnaire

Do you think that stream classification systems have been overused or misused?

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Have any recent findings or teachings changed your approach to stream restoration?

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Are you seeing more field assessment work done now than in the past, prior to any restoration, renewal or repair?

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Assessment and Monitoring – The Keys to Successful Restoration

THI on baseline assessmentA baseline assessment can best be described as the basis by which to judge the success of any action taken to conserve, protect, enhance or restore water resources or habitats. Monitoring, when properly executed, continues to evaluate the health of the resource after any action is taken in order to track results in a meaningful way.  This is the critical feedback loop to insure successful restoration and prudent adaptive resource management.

Trout Headwaters Inc performs baseline assessments to meet a variety of objectives, and to guide all restoration planning, design and installation. New technologies have made the assessment process quick and low cost – certainly the best investment toward a successful enhancement or restoration project.

Assessments can do the following:

  • Reveal ecological potential and challenges;
  • Answer project feasibility questions;
  • Uncover hidden problems before you renew, repair or restore;
  • Provide baseline data for permitting and for comparison over time;
  • Add value to property acquisition due diligence;
  • Prevent costly surprises.

 >Request our free Assessment FAQ

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From the Field Today – Red Eft


This eastern newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) is  common to eastern North America.  This land dwelling bright orange juvenile, known as a red eft, paid a visit to a Trout Headwaters technician during recent site work in North Carolina.  The newts frequent small lakes, ponds, and streams or near-by wet forests. They can coexist in an aquatic environment with small, noncarnivorous fish, as their skin secretes a poisonous substance when the newt is threatened or injured. They have lifespans of 12 to 15 years in the wild, and may grow to five inches in length.

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U.N. World Water Assessment Program Reports on Water, Energy, Ecosystems

The United Nations (U.N.) and lead author Rick Connor (above) report on our critical freshwater resources and energy development with the March 21 release of the 2014 World Water Development Report (WWDR). Produced by the U.N.’s World Water Assessment Program (U.N.-Water), WWDR 2014 is being released in conjunction with special events sponsored around the world as part of this year’s World Water Day celebrations on Saturday. >Read More via http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday/world-water-development-report/en/

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After Nearly 20 Years, Who Are THI’s Top EcoBlu Clients?

THI-TCN photo 1

After nearly 20 years in the steam, river and restoration industry, Trout Headwaters has developed a great appreciation for client relationships resulting in project outcomes that exceed expectations.  Our client-first philosophy means we give each and every project, regardless of size, scope, or location, our full commitment to client satisfaction.  Because some projects span many months or even years, good client relationships are critical to achieving the greatest potential for any given site.

Characteristics of Our Clients

Leadership, clear goals, and direct communication are the most important factors contributing to the success of our clients’ natural resource projects. A single, decisive, point of contact between our company and you or your representative makes for the most efficient and satisfactory outcomes. Our clients manage their resources based upon a mission that emphasizes environmental sustainability. They understand the immense value of freshwater resources, and that preserving and protecting these resources benefits all of us for generations to come. We grow and maintain professional relationships with resource owners and managers from the following sectors:

Recreational Ranch Owners

Rural landholders or recreational ranch owners may enjoy their property as a main residence, a recreational get-away, or a recreational business.  Whether a guest ranch or a real estate investment, we help to restore and optimize ecological potential.  Our firm helps to create an ecological environment that provides for unmatched recreational fishing, hunting, and wildlife viewing, thereby increasing real land values.

Agribusiness Owners

We see a changing paradigm for agribusiness. Agribusiness firms are now not just landholders, but also subject to new opportunities, liabilities, and regulations. This requires a unique set of expertise regarding water usage alternatives, and water quality and quantity protections. We understand where the value lies, whether improving water-use efficiencies or re-purposing water rights for alternative designations.

Alternative Energy Developers

We work with alternative energy supply companies to ensure compliance with water regulatory concerns.  We use tools like conservation banking to provide mitigation credits to developers when needed. We help reduce risk by providing the expertise and oversight needed to protect and conserve water resources within a particular service area.

Land Developers

Building sustainable, green developments means recognizing the natural capital of the land.  Valuable natural assets like streams, rivers, ponds and lakes, once thought of as wastelands, are now highly sought-after amenities.  From consulting to design, to installation, we work to make comprehensive green development a proven strategy for developers. We help create value in regulatory driven markets, developing innovative asset/liability strategies to attract new customers and retain existing environmentally conscious customers.

Natural Resource Investment Managers

Natural resource investment managers manage natural resources, and natural-resource related investments for public and corporate pension plans, corporations, foundations, endowments and high net worth individuals.  Their holdings may be domestic and/or international. We help by providing attractive risk management, and asset management plans to ensure quality and value in natural resources throughout the investment cycle.

Conservation Organizations

Conservation organizations are highly varied in size, structure and area of emphasis, but the common goal is to protect and preserve the natural resources we all share. An example is a nonprofit working to restore healthy floodplains and the priceless ecological services these areas provide. We provide a turnkey approach from consulting to design to installation on projects of all sizes and scopes to create a proactive, sustainable, restoration strategy tied to the goals of your organization.


Since 1995 we have worked with government agencies to help green the policies of stream and river restoration.  We’ve completed successful demonstrations of softer, green restoration technologies to replace hard structures like riprap.  The work we do is reliable, sustainable, and maintenance-free. The treatments we develop and apply are natural, and more cost-effective than traditional hard engineering. When riparian areas and wetlands are restored instead of restrained, they are free to provide valuable ecological services we all need.

Are you interested in THI’s products and services for freshwater resource renewal and repair?  We’d love to hear from you.  Contact us today to discuss your project ideas.

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Wildfire and Water: Post-Fire Assessments Provide Quick Answers

Six Months of Fires in North America - NOAA

Satellite fire data from NOAA/NESDIS. Six months of fires burning in North America.

The fire is out, but the damage is still ongoing.  When wildfires burn an area, the exposed land that has lost most of its vegetation is very susceptible to soil loss.

In a short amount of time rain can cause severe erosion affecting structures, hillsides, roads, trails, and especially the health of streams, rivers, and wetlands.  Channels filled with sediment can quickly become a new flood hazard; aquatic life can be severely impaired; and streambanks can become vulnerable to accelerated erosion and sloughing.

Although wildfires occur naturally, several human-caused factors make wildfires increasingly catastrophic.  Stream dewatering is a massive problem in the West.  Streams that used to persist during dry spells, now dwindle to a trickle or completely dry up. And once-saturated riparian areas burn instead of protecting streams and providing natural firebreaks.  Human-manipulated fire regimes cause some areas to be overloaded with understory fuels, or attempts at controlled burns get out of control.  We also can’t ignore that weather patterns are changing, and droughts may occur more frequently and last longer. With these environmental events likely becoming more severe in the coming decades, the impact of wildfires is expected to steadily increase.

Trout Headwaters’ post-fire assessments can provide a clear view of what type of repair is needed to help your property quickly recover from wildfire.  Our full-service company can then apply the appropriate natural treatments that will help nature help herself in the recovery process.   Healthy riparian areas and floodplains can provide a wonderful, natural buffer against the effects of wildfire on your property and from the future effects of unmitigated damage on surrounding properties.

At THI we provide:

  • Prompt, post-fire assessments, including impacts and potential hazards;
  • Repair to stop immediate soil loss, including natural soil-stabilizing mats, mulches, quick seeding techniques, and more;
  • Restoration, including long-term soil stabilization, reseeding, transplanting;
  • Monitoring to insure your property is recovering to its fullest potential.

If your property has been affected by wildfire, please contact THI today to discuss our low-cost, rapid, post-wildfire assessment services.

You may also like: Wildfire: A Friend or Foe to Streams and Rivers?  and Paradise Valley Heats Up: How Healthy Streams Can Help Mitigate the Impacts of Wildfire

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Flooding and Floodrisks Defined at FloodSmart.gov

Anywhere it rains, it can flood. Many conditions can result in a flood: hurricanes , overtopped levees, outdated or clogged drainage systems and rapid accumulation of rainfall.

Just because you haven’t experienced a flood in the past, doesn’t mean you won’t in the future. Flood risk isn’t just based on history, it’s also based on a number of factors: rainfall, river-flow and tidal-surges, topography, flood-control measures, and changes due to building and development.

FloodSmart.gov provides flood-hazard maps to show different degrees of risk for your community, which help determine the cost of flood insurance.  We suggest you check  these maps annually as they do change.

Trout Headwaters advocates for, and works to restore healthy functioning floodplains, which can slow and filter floodwaters, reducing flood damage.  You may want to read our recent article: “Know Your Risk: Floodwaters Can Transform Small Streams into Raging Rivers,” and call our offices if you own, or are thinking of investing in, streamside or river front property.

Read more: http://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/flooding_flood_risks/ffr_overview.jsp

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Know Your Risk: Floodwaters Can Transform Small Streams into Raging Rivers

Montana floodwaters

photo courtesy of Montana DNRC

All streams and rivers are subject to flooding.  In mountainous areas, it’s typically annual spring flooding.  But other regions experience heavy rain events at other times of the year that can very quickly turn a peaceful stream into a raging torrent.  At THI we often help prospective landowners determine if buildings are in jeopardy, or help landowners make decisions about where to site homes and other improvements.

Before you build in or very near a floodplain, please consider the following: A stream or river is constantly adjusting itself. This is nature’s balancing act between the amount of water and gradient in the channel, and the amount and size of the sediment within the system. Any disturbance, either natural or human-caused, will change this balance. Activities such as building within the floodplain, constructing roads in riparian areas, or removing vegetation can limit a stream’s ability to maintain a healthy balance.

Residential or commercial construction within the floodplain does have an impact, as does protecting property by constructing dikes, levees, installing riprap, or eliminating overflows into side channels. The effects of these impacts within the floodplain can include increased peak flood levels, increased energy during a flood event downstream, increased bank and bed erosion on neighboring property, reduced habitat and reduced recreational values.

To limit or eliminate these impacts, avoid construction in the floodplain where possible; do not restrict floodwater access to side channels; and ensure construction within the floodplain minimizes disturbance of soils and vegetation.  Contact THI to Learn More or Request a Free Report Titled: Building Near Streams or Rivers.

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What Your Stream Assessment Report Should Tell You

Assessment and MonitoringIt’s impossible to know where you are going without understanding where you stand right now. Unfortunately, in the relatively new industry of stream, river and wetland restoration, there are individuals and companies making recommendations, and even performing work, without properly evaluating the current condition of the resource.

Baseline assessment can best be described as the basis by which to judge the success of any action taken to conserve, protect, enhance or restore water resources.  Monitoring is performed on a regular basis following implemented management changes and/or treatments to continue to measure the health of the resource.

THI performs baseline assessments to meet a variety of objectives, and to guide all restoration planning, design and installation. New technologies have made the assessment process relatively quick and low-cost – certainly the best investment toward a successful enhancement or restoration project.

 Assessments are used to:

  • Provide baseline data for permitting or for comparison over time;
  • Determine the ecological health of a stream, river or wetland system;
  • Reveal ecological potential;
  • Answer project feasibility questions;
  • Uncover hidden problems before you build (or before you buy);
  • Add value to due diligence;
  • Prevent costly surprises.

To learn more or receive our free Assessment and Monitoring Fact Sheet contact Trout Headwaters today.

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Trout Verified: Assess Water Resources Prior to Purchase

A scientifically-based assessment takes the guesswork out of property valuation.

A scientifically-based assessment takes the guesswork out of property valuation.

While few people would ever consider buying a building without understanding the physical condition of the structure, many valuable properties along rivers and lakes, or with private streams or wetlands, are being purchased with little investigation into the quality or values of those resources.

Depending on the property specifics and region, often much of the land value is tied to its water resources.  Surprisingly, even a sophisticated buyer sometimes overlooks proper due diligence in regard to those resources.  This  can be an expensive gamble for buyers.

As any good real estate professional will tell you, there are few properties without some hidden defects and the sooner those are understood in the purchase process, typically the better the experience for both buyer and seller.

Complex amenities like streams, lakes or wetlands may appear “fine” at certain times during the year, but actually may be plagued with hidden problems such as severe disturbances in the watershed, high water temperatures, excessive sediment, dangerous contaminants, dewatering problems, or prior “treatments” that damaged the health of the system.

Ponds, lakes and wetlands can have a myriad of problems, which can result in a virtually dead system, save the algae and pond scum that blooms in abundance every year.

The Function of Diligence is to Verify, Verify, Verify

While anecdotal opinions like “it’s a great fishery” or “the stream is in great shape” or “the lake is just beautiful,” have their place in marketing literature and casual conversation, this type of information does not replace appropriate professional diligence.  Neither do pictures of big fish caught “just last week.”

By developing technologies tailored specifically for assessment of freshwater resources, THI is now able to offer the low-cost, reliable water-resource due diligence assessments with the fastest turn-around time in the industry.  These services are available for all U.S. property owners, buyers and real-estate professionals.  >Contact Us

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