Riparian Program

Riparian areas, rangeland watersheds, and streams are a major source of water for Texans. Management of these areas directly influences the well being of the local landowner and downstream users. The health and condition of each riparian area influences water quality and quantity, peak and base flow rates of streams and rivers, and rate of recharge to aquifers and lakes. Riparian areas are important buffer zones for removing sediment, nutrients, and other potential contaminates originating from upland watersheds and in-stream flood events. Riparian areas are some of the most productive vegetation types found in rangeland watersheds. They are highly prized for their forage, recreational, fish and wildlife, water supply, cultural/historic and economic values.

Riparian area degradation is evident throughout rural and municipal landscapes in Texas. In many cases riparian areas are purposely degraded or even channelized, especially in urban areas, to quickly allow storm water to move downstream and reduce local flooding. Degraded and/or channelized riparian areas have resulted in reduced recharge of ground water, reduced sustained base flow, increased peak flow, and subsequent downstream flooding. The potential for damage to other riparian areas and local communities may also be increased. Healthy riparian areas absorb the impact of flood waters, increase local recharge of shallow and aquifer water tables, and provide valuable green space for urban citizens and productive areas for landowners. A concerted educational program is necessary to prevent further degradation, to restore, and maintain healthy rangeland riparian systems in rural and urban areas in Texas.

Here are three related articles:

1. Ripping & Water Harvesting – A Tool for Reversing the Desertification Process (PDF)

2. Indicators of Healthy Aquatic Systems (PDF)

3. A Texas Field Guide to Evaluating Rangeland Stream and Riparian Health


Riparian Notes
by Steve Nelle, NRCS Texas

The original intent of “Riparian Notes” was to be a very informal in-house NRCS educational tool. The idea was to provide some very basic riparian information in a digetible one page format. The natural resource community in Texas (landowners, land managers, interested citizens, NGO and government agency workers) in general are not very aware of riparian issues. The range discipline in Texas until very recently, has ignored the importance of riparian areas and we have unintentionally treated them like sacrifice area.

The desire for the notes is to increase the awareness and appreciation of the function and the values of creeks and riparian areas and to foster a better understanding of the connection between uplands, riparian areas and water resources. Sort of a Riparian 101 class broken down into a new and different way, and to incorporate creative management to help restore and maintain them.

Click here for the Riparian Notes

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