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Environ Monit Assess. 2001 May;68(2):99-125.

A stream visual assessment protocol (SVAP) for riparian landowners.

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Department of Geography, University of Georgia, Athens, USA.


A user-friendly Stream Visual Assessment Protocol (SVAP) was recently developed in a joint effort by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Georgia. SVAP was designed to be an introductory screening-level assessment method for people unfamiliar with stream assessments. It was designed for use by NRCS field staff who work with agricultural landowners. NRCS is in a key position to influence conservation practices since the organization works with private stakeholders, maintaining more than 2000 field offices throughout the U.S. with a central office in each state. The SVAP measures a maximum of 15 elements and is based on visual inspection of the physical and biological characteristics of instream and riparian environments. Each element is assigned a numerical score relative to reference conditions and an overall score for the stream reach is calculated. A qualitative description of the stream reach is made based on overall numerical score. While SVAP is not intended to replace more robust stream assessment protocols, it provides quick and reliable information for use in NRCS farm assistance programs. It is also an educational tool through which landowners can learn about conservation of aquatic resources. An abridged copy of SVAP is attached as an appendix to this article and the complete document can be found on the web at

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