Capstone projects for 2014-2015 are sponsored by King County and Seattle City Light. For each project, a professional liaison from a sponsoring organization works with a team of three to five students and a faculty advisor over the course of an entire academic year. Students develop a written proposal during the fall quarter and then a final project report during spring quarter. Brief descriptions of 2014-2015 projects are provided below.
Project ENSC 15.1: Assessment of Data Sources for Monitoring Cedar/Sammamish Chinook Recovery
Sponsor: King County
The project team will develop a strategy for incorporating existing environmental data collection efforts into a program for monitoring Chinook salmon recovery in the Cedar/Sammamish River watershed. Data sources should be capable of meaningfully describing changes to physically measurable parameters that affect habitat quality. These may include sediment substrate composition, peak flow hydrographs, distribution of large wood in rivers and streams, extent of riparian vegetation, water quality (including temperature, dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll a, fecal coliform, turbidity, etc.), channel/floodplain connectivity and extent of side channels, extent of bank armoring/natural shoreline, and tributary connectivity/fish passage barriers. Initial project work will involve cataloging potentially relevant data already being collected at the state, county, or local level. Students will describe data collection and validation procedures for each potential source, and then evaluate appropriateness in the context of monitoring goals, spatial and temporal completeness, and by determining whether commitments have been made to update and maintain the datasets. Students will also report on the potential usefulness of derived GIS products for evaluating changes in watershed health. Recommendations will be made for closing the most significant data gaps either through remote-sensing or field-based approaches.
Project ENSC 15.2: Identifying and Mapping Non-Native Maples Near Newhalem, Washington
Sponsor: Seattle City Light
The project involves identifying and mapping non-native maples that have colonized portions of the riparian area along the Skagit River near the town of Newhalem, WA, using hand-held GPS and aerial photography. The team will submit a final report discussing the ecological impact of non-native maples in various habitat types present near Newhalem. The report will provide a list of the tree species documented in Newhalem and the associated riparian area and the dispersal distances and colonization pathways of these species. It will also include a discussion of management implications and possible controls.