Riparian Conservation: A Landowner Guide
What is a riparian area?
Riparian areas are the transition zones of vegetation between water bodies and the surrounding drier uplands. These areas are linked to water quality and function to:
- Reduce erosion
- Recharge the water table
- Stabilize the streambank
- Provide wildlife habitat
- Filter sediment
What can landowners do to improve riparian areas?
Livestock exclusion fencing, off-channel watering, bank stabilization and tree-planting: it’s this combination of on-the-ground restoration projects and community collaboration that improves riparian conditions, water quality, and fish habitat. Private landowner participation is vital to the success of riparian conservation. Together we’ve conducted 74 on-the-ground projects, and protected nearly 100 kilometres of streambank and over 17,000 acres of riparian habitat.
Riparian Management Techniques
1) Streambank Fencing
Fencing is a management tool that allows riparian areas to be managed as buffers.
Riparian pasture is a stream corridor that has controlled grazing so that the riparian vegetation can perform its normal duties. Exclusion fencing means the livestock access is prohibited from the riparian area. Alberta Conservation Association offers funding to landowners that covers up to 75 percent of streambank fencing project costs.
2) Off-Site Watering
An alternate watering source eliminates the need for livestock to access the stream and may result in an overall improvement in herd health. Dugouts, nose pumps, gravity fed systems and portable solar-powered systems are all alternatives to watering livestock in a natural water body. Alberta Conservation Association offers watering systems for riparian landowners to use for demonstration purposes and offers funding of 50 percent toward the purchase of systems.
3) Bank Stabilization
Bioengineering refers to a method of bank stabilization using only natural materials. Regeneration of tree cuttings (in the structures), produces roots that bind the stream bank together.
For more information, contact:
John Hallett, Alberta Conservation Association
Peace River, AB