There are times when reports seem to
contain everything but the kitchen sink.
Unfortunately, you only needed to wash dishes.
Find a particular indicator (a key part of
a resource or issue that can be measured) that generally reflects
impacts to an entire resource. For example, the amount of flows
at Hellfire Rapids may indicate rafting quality for the entire
Jordan River--or levels of Cladophora (blue green algae)
may show the relative abundanc e of native fish. Do a reality
check to ensure your indicators measure what you need.
Show why an indicator was chosen, how it interacts with
the resource as a whole, and then measure
impacts to it consistently under all alternatives.
Keeping frequency charts
can help determine which indicators to use. A matrix
table showing all indicators and alternatives provides the
public and decisionmakers with a quick way to determine which
alternative will have what impact on the resources.
Measure what will be significant
to the decision.
How to Develop Indicators
Depending on the complexity of issues,
break into small groups during one long meeting or plan
for two meetings to allow time for research.
TIP : Document this and use these explanations
as introductions to resources (e.g. Chapter 4, Impacts,
in an EIS)
1. Identify the action
and resources of concern.
The entire team gets together to:
- Define the proposed action in one sentence (e.g., Ensure
a stable water supply for the Crystal River Valley).
- Identifies the "resources of concern" to address. (This
may not be as obvious as it sounds. Review
Step 1, needs and Step 2, objectives
to determine what the needs and issues will be addressed.
Then use the lists of resources in Step
3 to help determine which resources match the needs and
issues. (e.g., water quality, water supplies, endangered species,
recreation, economic development).
2. Draft indicators for
The team leader identifies the spokesperson for each resource.
This spokesperson will document the decision process and the
assumptions made for his or her resource as they are developed
during this exercise.
The team members involved with each resource break into
small groups and determine indicators for impacts on their resource
from each alternative.
To do this:
- Develop an issue statement for the resourceto show its
importance and interrelationships (e.g., Drinking water standards
need to be met at Crystal Village. Purple cutthroat trout
and the blunt nose sucker fish depend on xx quality water).
- Determine potential impacts. (e.g., poor water quality
in the Crystal River will lower populations in Crystal Village,
create more demands on groundwater, may create groundwater
- Identify what indicators can be used to represent these
impacts (e.g., Selenium levels at the gauge above Crystal
- Determine if these indicators can reasonably be extrapolated
to represent impacts on the entire resource (e.g., Can water
quality at Crystal Village indicate water quality along the
Crystal River? Can impacts on cutthroat trout to represnt
impacts on all non-native fish?).
- Document the assumptions and rationale for the indicator
(Why do you feel it can represent the resource?)
- Test the indicators. Will they explain no action conditions
as well as future conditions under other alternatives?
- Determine measurement units that will readily describe
impacts (e.g., parts per million, parts per billion, survival
rates). If you have difficulties with this, step back and
re-evaluate the selected impact indicator.
- Develop an indicator statement. Explain the link between
the resource and the indicator. Show how this indicator will
answer the question: How would (the action) affect (the resource)?
3. Refine and Integrate
The entire team gets together to ensure that indicators
will be compatible. Resources and proposed indicators should
be listed on a sheet so all can see them. Each resource spokesperson
- The resource
- Resource issue
- How the resource relates to other resources
- Indicators of impacts
- Measurement units
- Assumptions made
The team then determines:
- Do indicators show the relationships between resources?
(explain contradictions --what is good for caddis-eating trout
is not good for ground-dwelling catfish)
- Will decisionmakers and publics be able to determine
relevant impacts from these indicators?
- Will these indicators provide a reasonable overall picture
of impacts from each alternative?
- Are measurement units compatible for comparisons (e.g.,
compare acre feet to acre feet, not cubic feet per second).
- Surface water (streamflow in cfs or stage)
- Groundwater (depletions in acre-feet)
- Floodflows (magnitude or frequency)
- Water quality (xxppb cadmium)
- Municipal and Industrial use (acre-feet)
- Onfarm use (value of crops)
- Stream sport fish (cfs, temperature at xx place, stage)
- Stream native fish (cfs, temperature at xx place, stage)
- Riparian habitat (acres, specific plants, mean annual
flow in cfs in selected reaches)
- Wetland habitat (acres, specific plants, mean annual
flow in cfs in selected reaches)
Special Status Species
- Species (roosting, feeding, nesting habitat)
- Stream use (annual visitor days linked to cfs or stage)
- Recreation economics ($)