What is a Riparian Zone?

A Riparian Zone is the vegetated transitional area between a waterway and the surrounding lands. It includes the stream banks, side channels, floodplains, and lake edges-anywhere vegetation grows along waterways.

Why Do We Need Them?

Riparian Zones are important natural bio-filters that protect and stabilize stream banks, reduce erosion, reduce polluted surface runoff, and flooding. Research shows riparian zones play a major role in maintaining clean water. Riparian areas provide shelter and food for many animals. Stream side trees, especially conifers, provide shade to keep stream temperatures cool. Riparian Zones play an important role in supporting a wide variety of living organisms, including fish, amphibians, birds, mammals, and plants. Trees along streams reduce flooding and provide hiding places, pools and nutrients essential for aquatic habitats and fish. Riparian areas mimicking natural processes can be engineered using large wood and root wads for habitat restoration and bank stabilization objectives. Waterways are often protected from certain clearing or development activities. Contact your County Planning Department for specific information.

Healthy Riparian Zones Can Help:

  • Reduce flooding by absorbing excess moisture
  • Reduce stream bank erosion
  • Filter stormwater to prevent it from running directly into streams
  • Improve water quality by keeping streams shaded and cool in the summer.
  • Provide habitat for fish and wildlife