As landowners along the Little Spokane River Valley, we have a unique opportunity to help maintain and improve the health of the river and our riparian areas. A riparian area is the area adjacent to a stream, lake, or wetland. Most healthy, natural riparian areas have moist, fertile soils that support many types of moisture loving plants. These plants provide food and shelter to numerous fish and wildlife.
Healthy riparian areas include a variety of types and ages of plants, including trees, shrubs, grasses, and ground covers. Plants adapted to local rainfall, climate, insects, and soil conditions tend to be easier to care for and have a better chance to survive than non-native plants. Plants that are removed or damaged in riparian areas can cause harm to the river from an increase in runoff and sediment.
A healthy riparian area has the following benefits:
• Provide wood to streams, creating fish habitat and slowing the stream current during and after storms.
• Shade the stream in the summer. Cool water is healthier for many native fish species.
• Help prevent erosion by holding soil in place with their roots.
• Filter out sediment laden runoff, keeping it from smothering fish habitat.
• Allow rain to soak into the soil instead of running into the stream.
• Helps filter out pollutants such as fertilizers, pesticides, and animal wastes.
• Provides important food sources, homes, shelter, and travel corridors for wildlife, fish, and other aquatic organisms.
The bottom line is we all need to protect our riparian areas to help prevent flooding and erosion. This will produce cleaner water and a healthy habitat for wildlife and fish.
Information provided from
A Landowner’s Guide to Riparian Areas Oregon State University, University of Idaho and Washington State University