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3383. Jennings, M.D. and J.P. Reganold. 1988. Policy and reality of environmentally sensitive areas in Whitman County, WA.. Environmental Management, 12(3):369-380.
A representative watershed within Whitman Co. was used as a case study to identify areas which would qualify for ESA status. In these areas, specific soil, water, and biological characteristics or resources were identified as sensitive to certain common land uses. Significant differences were found between state and county policies regarding ESA's and actual conditions within the watershed. On-site impacts from erosion in the watershed have caused loss of agricultural productivity, water quality, and natural habitats. At least 7.2 T/ha soil eroded for each T grain or pulse produced in Thorn Creek watershed. Average annual suspended sediment loads in surface waters of the Palouse river basin (including Thorn Creek) were 2950 mg/l between 1961 and 1965. 87% of soils within Thorn Creek watershed meet criteria for highly eroded land. Less than 10% of Thorn Creek watershed supports native or exotic noncrop vegetation. Conversion of the watershed to croplands has resulted in a well-defined pattern of upland islands (eyebrows) and wetland corridors, which are the only places where plant and animal species diversity can occur. Existing natural areas within the watershed are degraded in terms of original ecosystem structure, function and size. Effective legal conservation-related land-use considerations should be made if soil, water, and natural habitat resources as identified in this study are to become sustainable. T: T values and percent area for major soil series in Thorn Creek watershed. Features of Thorn Creek subwatersheds.