RiverRAT: a tool for river restoration

RiverRAT is a comprehensive resource and guide for river restoration project development and review of restoration project proposals.

The River Restoration Analysis Tool (RiverRAT) was developed for NOAA Fisheries and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to facilitate consistent and thorough evaluation of the potential impacts of proposed projects on river habitat and function, particularly for species listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The tool is supported by a science base document that provides a comprehensive synthesis of watershed and river sciences relevant to restoration planning and design, a checklist of project information for review, and a screening matrix for determining an appropriate level of review

2010 RiverRAT Framework

The goals of this joint project were to enable project reviewers to:

  • Understand the connections between physical processes and aquatic habitat.
  • Understand the connection between common management actions, effects, and associated risks to protected species and habitat.
  • Understand alternatives that can minimize project-related risks to protected species and habitat.
  • Provide science and understanding that promote the design of sustainable projects, resilient to physical processes and changing environmental conditions.
  • Document and streamline project review, and foster consistency among project reviewers.
  • Promote effective post-project appraisals, leading to more effective future river management.

While an emphasis on salmonid recovery and ESA context in the Pacific Northwest and California is inherent in this NMFS-led effort, the resources and tools have broader utility and could easily be adapted to other agencies jurisdictions, other geographic regions, and specific ecological resources

Project Screening Matrix


For more information a complete description and documentation, including training opportunities, please go to:



Skidmore, P.B., C.R. Thorne, B.L. Cluer, G.R. Pess, J.M. Castro, T.J. Beechie, and C.C. Shea. 2011. Science base and tools for evaluating stream engineering, management, and restoration proposals. U.S. Dept. Commer., NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-NWFSC-112, 255 p.