Tuesday, May 31, 2011

three levels of stream restoration & riparian buffers

Stream restoration images (before and after) from Natural Resources Conservation Services Website (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture)

Three Levels of Stream Protection:

1. To restore a stream means to re-create meanders, stabilize soil and install gently sloping stream banks. Stream restoration is not always possible due to constraints such as utility crossings, structures or roadways.

2. To enhance a stream is to attempt meanders and gentle slopes where possible and to stabilize the soil.

3. To stabilize a stream is simply to secure the stream banks from further erosion because constraints limit other degrees of stream protection.

From: Charlotte-Mecklenburg website

Riparian Buffers:

A riparian buffer is the forested area next to a body of water that serves as a protective strip against pollutants and erosion. The establishment of a riparian buffer is actually one of the most effective and important steps to restoring a stream and should be incorporated in stream restoration projects whenever possible. Many considerations should be taken into account when implementing a riparian buffer, but with some small amount of guidance, the average homeowner can improve the short-term and long-term health of a stream greatly and with less of a monetary investment than other stream restoration techniques.

When designing a riparian buffer, consideration should be made to use native, site-appropriate species (fitting light, soil and moisture requirements). Also, the riparian buffer should be designed to include all levels of the forest canopy (this includes large trees, shrubs, herbaceous material and native grasses). Riparian buffers serve many functions for a stream such as reducing nutrient inputs, reducing stream bank erosion and the subsequent sedimentation, reducing thermal pollution, providing habitat to aquatic and terrestrial species, and providing a food source for aquatic macro-invertebrates. While serving all of these functions, riparian buffers can also be aesthetically pleasing, incorporating wildflowers and budding trees.

Riparian buffers can provide many long-term ecological functions for a stream ecosystem while requiring minimal effort to implement.

From Wildlands Conservancy website.

P.S. Check out my latest "urban wild" nature blog: Wild. Here. (2016 update)

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