The SSHIAP approach to characterizing freshwater salmon and steelhead habitat conditions relies on information derived from 1:24,000-scale maps and GIS coverages, aerial photographs, field surveys, existing databases, historical records, and the expertise of tribal, state, and other biologists. Stored within a Microsoft Access database, the information can be queried and analyzed according to user-defined criteria. The database will be continually updated over time, and information can be retrieved by basin, watershed, individual tributary, species, or SaSI stock. Furthermore, SSHIAP’s data structure provides a common spatial framework for storing and relating different types of habitat information. Linkage of the database to a Geographical Information System (GIS) is in progress, thus enabling users to retrieve information using a map-based interface. GIS will also increase the ability of SSHIAP to integrate and analyze habitat information acquired from a wide variety of sources. The increase in GIS support will further allow for the creation of point layers that will more thoroughly depict elements such as fish distribution and fish passage barriers.

SSHIAP is designed to support regulatory, conservation, and analysis efforts such as Washington State Watershed Analysis, State Salmon Recovery, Habitat Conservation Planning, Ecosystem Diagnosis and Treatment (EDT), and others. There are four parts to the approach: (1) delineation of watersheds into discrete stream segments, (2) identification of current and potential fish distribution by SaSI stock, (3) quantification of obstructed and degraded habitat, and (4) quantification of historical habitat.