A Riparian area is the area along the edge of a body of water (stream, river, pond, bog, marsh etc) that is influenced by that water body. Riparian areas can be identified by the presence of wetland plants that are able to grow there thanks to the presence of that water body. Functioning riparian habitats have healthy vegetation populations of native tree, shrub, and herbaceous plant, are regularly flooded in the rainy season, and shift as the edges of a water body shift such as when a stream naturally migrates. Our work focuses mostly on stream and river adjacent riparian areas.
Why (re)plant along streams?
Healthy riparian areas serve very important functions for Salmon and other fish species. They shade streams and rivers, keeping the water cool. When they flood they slow water flow, mitigating downstream flooding and allowing for groundwater recharge. A riparian area’s vegetation and leaf litter support populations of aquatic insects that are important food sources for juvenile Salmon. Finally, the trees that grow in a healthy riparian area eventually fall into the stream or river, whether due to age or bank erosion. The fallen trees provide important in-stream habitat diversity and more (link to In Stream Enhancement description).In the Nehalem Watershed, development has impacted riparian areas to the detriment of humans, fish, and wildlife. The removal of trees and shrubs from those areas causes warming of streams and rivers by the sun, negatively impacting juvenile Salmon growth and development. Additionally, removing these trees and shrubs reduces leaf litter in the streams which reduces forage for the aquatic insects juvenile Salmon eat. Invasive plant species like Himalayan blackberries and Japanese knotweed also move into these areas, dominating them and preventing native trees and shrubs from reestablishing. The thin and shallow root systems of these invasive plants also makes stream banks more susceptible to erosion. Without native trees and shrubs growing the benefits of a healthy riparian area are lost.
How do we (re)plant riparian areas?
We regularly partner with landowners to explore replanting of existing riparian zones on their property. If you’re a landowner interested in a property visit, please give us a call. (contact us link). With support from grant funds and in partnership with the Back Yard Planting Program (BYPP) our goal is to replant riparian areas with native trees and shrubs and restore riparian areas into a balanced state. We look forward to working with you!
If you would like to be involved with a riparian planting on your property, please reach out at email@example.com.