We used digital data sets, aerial photos and direct field observations in a geographical information system to evaluate the stream habitat in an Idaho watershed affected by agriculture. We found that the scale of the digital data sets affected the outcome of the assessment due to the presence of dewatered stream channels in the drainage. We analysed the spatial configuration of irrigation canals in the watershed to determine if the contemporary stream network connectivity could be attributed to human- caused or to natural hydrological processes. Many irrigation canals were significantly longer than would have been expected if these canals were constructed to capture water from the closest portion of the abandoned stream channels. Our findings provide evidence that some of these tributary streams had reaches that were likely ephemeral or intermittent at the time of canal construction. Our approach for assessing stream and irrigation network connectivity in pastoral and agricultural lands should aid managers in prioritizing the effective and appropriate reconnection efforts. Published in 2008 by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. ?? 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.