Healthy Riparian Areas
Aug 14, 2023
Why Restore Your Riparian Zone?
There are many reasons to consider restoring creeks and streams on your property and many ways to get started. The simplest ways is to plant trees and shrubs that will have immediate and long lasting efforts on the health of the stream and the wildlife that lives there.
Riparian Zone - the areas along bodies of water (streams, rivers, wetlands, and lakes) that interact with the body water. These zones provide benefits to the aquatic and terrestrial organisms that live in the water and in the riparian zone. Riparian Zones may also be called buffers, corridors, or setbacks,
Restoration - the process of repairing an area to a natural state. Restoring riparian zones may include removing non-native vegetation, amending the soils, and planting native trees and shrubs.
View the My Healthy Stream handbook for more information.
Fish, Wildlife, and Water Quality Benefits
The roots, trunks, and branches of trees and shrubs growing in the riparian zone hold the soil along riverbanks in place and slow water down, reducing the potential for erosion. Erosion is a problem for fish and other aquatic organisms. It impairs water quality by adding silt and small particles to the water column, clogging fish gills and smothering their eggs.
Erosion is part of the natural process that occur in undisturbed streams. In many cases, erosion is exacerbated by human disturbances such as rip rapping (rocking) streambanks, mowing the edge of the bank and animal grazing. Be aware that upstream disturbances can affect downstream ares.
Get the advice of a fisheries biologist or habitat specialist to determine whether the erosion on your property deserves special attention. Always proceed cautiously when trying to address erosion concerns. Planting vegetation is the simplest and least invasive way to prevent erosion. Remember that the stream will eventually decide its own path, based on the topography and soils on the site. Giving the stream a sufficient buffer to hold high water flows and alter its' channel will lessen the degree to which it affects you land use goals.
Create Diverse Fish and Wildlife Habitat
A diverse assortment of trees and shrubs including evergreen trees, deciduous trees and berry-producing shrubs will provide habitat for a variety of birds, mammals, amphibians, and insects. Riparian Zones provide corridors and refuges for these animals in human dominated landscapes. Snags provide habitat for woodpeckers and cavity nesting birds. Downed wood provides valuable habitat for amphibians and insects. Leaves and twigs that fall into the water are the base of the food chain for aquatic organisms. They are eaten by aquatic insects that in turn feed fish, birds, and a host of other creatures.
Livestock with unrestricted access to a waterway increase erosion, prevent the establishment of trees and shrubs, and impair water quality. If your livestock have access to a stream or wetland, you should fence them out. Alternate watering sources are easy to install. Please ask CCD staff about water options and cost share availability.
Are there any regulations to be aware of?
There are no regulations concerning the planting of trees shrubs next to a stream of waterway, but permits are required for in-stream work or for moving large amounts of soil.
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|Saturated||Wet||Moist||Well Drained||Dry||Full Sun||Partial Sun||Full Shade|
|Big Leaf Maple||Acer Macrophyllum||x||x||x||x|
|Black Cottonwood||Populus Trichocarpa||x||x||x|
|Douglas Fir||Pseudotsuga Menziesii||x||x||x|
|Red Alder||Alnus Rubra||x||x||x||x||x|
|Vine Maple||Ace Circinatum||x||x||x||x||x|
|Western Hemlock||Tsuga Heterophylla||x||x||x||x||x|
|Western Red Cedar||Thuja Plicata||x||x||x||x||x||x|
|Sitka Spruce||Picea Sitchernsis||x||x|
|Black Twinberry||Lonicera Involucrata||x||x||x||x||x|
|Douglas Spirea||Spiraea Douglasil||x||x||x||x||x|
|Indian Plum||Oemleria Cerasiformis||x||x||x||x||x|
|Mock Orange||Philadelphus Lewisii||x||x||x||x||x|
|Pacific Ninebark||Physocarpus Capitatus||x||x||x||x|
|Red Elderberry||Sambucus Racemosa||x||x||x||x||x|
|Red Osier Dogwood||Cornus Stolonifera||x||x||x||x||x||x|
|Tall Oregon Grape||Mahonia Aquifolium||x||x||x||x||x|
|Wild Rose||Rosa Nutkana||x||x||x||x||x|