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Guidelines for locating data on "Salmon Supporting Waters" as defined by the court in the pesticide spraying case


A January 22, 2004 ruling by the United States District Court, Western District of Washington, at Seattle, established rules for use of pesticides near "Salmon Supporting Waters." It cited information on the StreamNet web site as the definition of these waters for Oregon and Washington. (Further information is provided by the Washington State Department of Agriculture and the Oregon Department of Agriculture's Pesticide Division.)

While the court cited StreamNet as the source of information on "Salmon Supporting Waters," we do not have data specifically intended for that purpose. What we do have is information on salmon and steelhead distribution, broken down by life stage (i.e., spawning, rearing, migrating). This information indicates areas where salmon and steelhead occur for at least a portion of the year and what they are doing there. We presume these occupied streams would fit under any definition of "Salmon Supporting Waters" as intended by the court. This information is the best place to start to find waters that support salmon or steelhead, as described below.

However, be aware that the information in the StreamNet database, while extensive, is not exhaustive. If a stream is included in the StreamNet anadromous fish distribution list, then that stream should be covered under the court's definition. But just because a stream is not included does NOT necessarily mean that salmon and/or steelhead do not occur there.

The primary reason this is so is that data in the main StreamNet database cover only those streams contained on maps at the 1:100,000 scale. [This was true at the time of the court ruling, and also as of November 2008]. However, we know that salmon and steelhead also occur in smaller streams that do not show up at that scale. These smaller streams can be quite valuable to salmon and steelhead. The Washington and Oregon fish and wildlife departments are currently working to develop information on fish distribution at a larger scale (1:24,000), and those data will be more inclusive. Even though that work is in progress and has not been completed, it might be useful to check to see what data are available at that larger scale. For Washington, go to, or contact Brodie Cox ( For Oregon, go to, or contact Jon Bowers (

Users of these data should also understand that it takes much more sampling to determine that a fish species does not occur at a site than to show that it does, but that higher level of sampling has been done in few places. And, fish distribution can shrink in years of low population size or low water and expand in years of high populations or high water. A "Salmon Supporting Water" designation would presumably relate to a stream's potential ability to support salmon, and not be diminished by a low population size or low water in some years.

We recommend beginning with data at the 1:100,000 scale from the main StreamNet database [again, as of November 2008] and refining that information at the larger scale as a second step.


The main StreamNet database contains information on the bulk of occupied streams, so that is the best place to start. There are two primary approaches to obtaining fish distribution information from the StreamNet database: 1) our main online query system (a tabular system which allows users to select criteria to locate information); and 2) an interactive map application that allows users to locate an area or stream on the map and then overlay fish distribution by species. The map approach also can show the individual Evolutionary Significant Unit (ESU) designations. We suggest that users become familiar with both methods, since people tend to have different preferences, and each approach has specific strengths. For example, the online data query (the tabular approach) would be best for obtaining a list of streams in a given area (subbasin, watershed [referred to by hydrologic unit code - HUC4], county, etc.), and a complete list can be downloaded for an entire state. The interactive map approach would be best for seeing which streams in an area have the fish, and where the various ESUs are located.

Click the 'Data' link on the left to get to the main data page. The 'Query Main Database' link on the 'Online Query Introduction" page is the online data query. At this point we suggest that new users click the link at the end of the first paragraph to read the Web Query System User's Guide, which will help explain how the query system works.

Online Data Query Method:

To obtain a list of salmon-bearing streams in an area, use the 'Standard Query Method' link. Begin by selecting criteria to locate information for your area of interest. Criteria can be selected in any order, but it might be best to start with the aspect you are most interested in. For example, if you are working in a specific county, you might want to select your county first. Click 'County' (or 'State' and then 'County'), and select your county. Then click 'Data Category' and select Fish Distribution. Next, select a species by clicking on 'Species' and selecting the species you want information for. You can click on 'Run' if you want to see distribution for only a particular run of a species. You will have to run queries for each listed species (chum, coho, Chinook and sockeye salmon and steelhead) in a given location to see whether it falls under the court ruling. A stream falls under the ruling if steelhead or any one of the salmon species occurs there and it is located in one of the ESUs listed in the ruling.

You could also start with a particular species and then select the other criteria to find the locations where that species occurs.

In all cases you will have to select Data Category = Fish Distribution at some point before you can view results. You could start with this criterion if you wish.

Once you have selected the data category, location and species, you can click 'View Available Data' to see a list of all streams in that area (e.g., state, county, HUC4, or subbasin) that have the selected species/run. You can click 'Map' on the toolbar at the top of the page and see a map of all these streams at once. You can click 'Download' on the toolbar to download the table of streams in that county.

To see the extent of salmon or steelhead distribution in a single stream, click on that stream name in the table. This is important because the fish often do not occupy the entire stream. Penetration of the fish up the stream is listed as distance (miles) up from the mouth at mile 0.0. If you click the 'Map it' button under the information for a single stream, a map will show just that stream, but this may or may not be very useful, since on small streams it may be zoomed in too close to see the relationship to surrounding landmarks. If necessary, select the zoom out tool and click on the stream to see a wider view.

To obtain a list of salmon or steelhead streams for an entire state, select the state, Data Category = Fish Distribution, and the species of interest. The online query will only display up to 500 records, so for an entire state a message stating there are too many records will appear. Simply download the file ('download' button on the toolbar at top of page), and open the list in a spreadsheet program. Each species will have to be queried separately, but the data can be downloaded and combined into a single spreadsheet or database if a single list of steams containing any of the listed salmon or steelhead is desired. (Be aware of a problem with this approach! Multiple streams with the same name will likely appear, and there is no way to know if the "Rock Creek" listed is the Rock Creek you are interested in. If you can, you should retrieve data from smaller geographic areas. An alternate approach to obtaining a statewide list, which helps separate streams with the same name, is given at the end of this page.)

Interactive Map Query Method:

To view salmon bearing-streams and ESUs, and also access tabular data, use the Interactive Map Query Method link on the Online Query Introduction page. Select the "Pacific Northwest Mapper". To zoom in, hold the left mouse button down to draw a square around the area you are interested in. Or, center the arrow over the area of interest and click (repeat if necessary) to zoom in to the level of detail you need. As you zoom in, different features will become visible on the map. Use the tools at the top of the screen to change from zoom in to zoom out or to move around on the map. You can make map layers appear or disappear by clicking the 'Visible' box by each map layer and then clicking 'Refresh Map' above the Layers list. Of particular importance may be the ESU designation layers for the various species.

At some point it will help to use the map tool to review the extent of the ESUs, since not all salmon and steelhead ESUs are listed under the Endangered Species Act. The applicable ESUs are detailed in the court ruling.

To see where the species of interest occurs, click on the 'Show Fish Distribution' button to the right of the Tools. A new window will open and you can select one species at a time, or select the 'Combined Anadromous Distribution', which shows all salmon and steelhead at once. You can close or minimize this window to work with the map. To change species, click 'Show Fish Distribution' again if you closed the window, or go to the bottom of your screen if you minimized it. (If this window is minimized, it will not come up when you click the 'Show Fish Distribution' button, since it is already open). When viewing fish distribution, it may help to not have ESU visible on the map at the same time.

Zoom in or out to get to the area of interest. If you want to see the name of a stream, click the 'Active' (round) button next to 'Streams' on the legend. Then click the 'Identify' button on the Tools list (the 'i' inside a black circle). Then click on any stream of interest and the name will appear below the map.


To assist people working with this court ruling, we pre-sorted all streams in the StreamNet database that contain any of the listed species covered by the court order (as of the date of the ruling) and have placed them in a large Excel spreadsheet. In addition to stream names, the spreadsheet lists the waters they are tributary to, helping to reduce confusion over streams with the same name. Information for each stream includes HUC4, county, and other criteria that may be helpful in sorting the information. While this spreadsheet accumulates a lot of information in one place and allows users to sort on several attributes, it does not include all of the qualifying information contained in the StreamNet database. Thus, the online query approaches discussed above should be considered the most detailed and current source of information for this purpose.


GIS data for use in geographic information systems (shapefiles, coverages) showing the streams and lakes defined as "Salmon Supporting Waters" can be downloaded here.


These instructions should help you navigate through the StreamNet database and locate waters that currently support salmon and steelhead. We recommend that you experiment with both query approaches. It will help to spend a little time and review the User's Guide, since it does take some time to learn how the query works. If additional questions arise, click the 'Contact Us' button at the top of any page to send us a message or question. Either way, StreamNet staff will be happy to answer questions, and we are usually able to respond within one business day.