Natural Riparian Resources

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					    Natural Riparian Resources


Landscape & Soil
Riparian/Wetland Vegetation Groups

Stabilizer group

 Establish along streams, rivers,
 lakes, ponds, springs, & seeps
 Strong, fibrous, deep root system
 Provide protection against water’s
             Root Length
             Manning, M.E., et al, 1989

Root Mass
Sedges (Carex) “Sedges have edges”
 Leaves 3-ranked      Stem Triangular
                  Beaked Sedge
                  (Carex utriculata)
                  (Carex rostrata)

Typical Habitat
Saturated Soils
Nebraska sedge
(Carex nebrascensis)
Emery Creek
Panicled bulrush (Scirpus microcarpus)
Rushes (Juncus) “Rushes are Round”
Solid and Round
or Compressed
Leaves Alternate or
                         Baltic Rush or Wire Grass
                         (Juncus balticus)

Typical Growth Pattern
Baltic Rush
Grasses               Stem Hollow
Leaves 2-ranked   Nodes and Internodes
                       Fowl Manna Grass
                       (Glyceria striata)

Blue Joint Reedgrass
(Phalaris arundinacea)
Little Wood River
Woody Species
(Willow, Alder, Birch, etc.)
Roots              Birch



                 Red Osier Dogwood

Plants that are considered colonizers
   Establish on freshly deposited soil or
    disturbed sites
Have intermediate root systems
Can result in proper functioning condition
Spike Rush
Coyote (Sand Bar)
Willow (Salix exigua)
Teton River
Arroyo Willow
(Salix lasiolepis)
(Populus spp.)
South Fork Snake
Cottonwood Roots

 First to establish
   freshly deposited soil
   shallow open water
   barren areas

 Root systems
   stoloniferous or rhizomatous
   shallow and relatively weak

 Critical to recovery
Brook Grass             Water-cress
(Catabrosia aquatica)   (Rorippa nasturtium-
Short-awned Foxtail
(Alopecurus arundinaceus)

Replaces stabilizers species as a result of
Shallow, less massive root systems
Less protective of streambanks against
water’s energy
Noxious weeds
Kentucky Bluegrass
(Poa prentensis)
East Fork Castle Creek

                         (Agrostis gigentea)
                         Formerly A.
                         stolonifer and alba
Leafy Spurge

               Purple Loosestrife
Standard Checklist (lotic)
6) There is diverse age-class distribution of
riparian-wetland vegetation (recruitment for
Purpose: To determine if the number of age classes that
provide recruitment to maintain an area or to allow an
area to recover are present. Multiple age-classes usually
indicate that riparian-wetland areas can recover or
maintain themselves.
   Need to determine if reach has potential for woody
    vegetation and if it is necessary for functionality
   At least 2 age-classes should be present
   One of the age-class should be young
   Older age classes can persist in degraded conditions
   This is presence/absence issue, not an amount
   Closed canopy/late seral types may have limited age-
    class diversity but still should have some
Wolf Creek Colorado – absolutely
requires willow to function
Are there two or more age classes of stabilizer
riparian/wetland species present within the riparian area?
Are there two or more age classes of stabilizer
riparian/wetland species present within the riparian area?
Sufficient Herbaceous “Age-Class”
Diversity – Nebraska sedge
Sufficient willow & herbaceous age-class
diversity – Yes
“Yes” Sufficient willow age-class diversity
– system “likely” needs willow &
herbaceous veg to recover
“No” Insufficient willow age-class diversity
(all mature) system needs willow to function
“Yes” Sufficient age-class diversity –
  Narrowleaf Cottonwood (Populus
7) There is diverse composition of riparian-wetland
      vegetation (for maintenance/recovery)

     Purpose: To determine if the existing species
     composition is sufficient for maintenance or
     recovery. Diverse composition of riparian-
     wetland vegetation (relative to the site’s
     potential), is necessary to provide stability to
     the site.
         Not all species a site is capable of producing need to
          be present, but more than two are common and
          required in most cases
         This is a presence/absence question not amount
         At least stabilizing species present (upland plants do
          not count)
         Addresses entire riparian area (not just
Are there at least two stabilizer riparian/wetland
species present within the riparian area?
Are there at least two stabilizer riparian/wetland
species present within the riparian area?
Are there at least two stabilizer riparian/wetland
species present within the riparian area? There are
two but dominated by one (CAAQ)
Castle Cr Utah – functioning well with
herbaceous species (2 species of sedge)
“Yes” system needs to recover & has
adequate R-W vegetation diversity to do it
“No” Species composition is JUBA and
POPR (with some other UPL grasses)

Sand + Popr + Upland Grasses + JUBA
patches = Vulnerability to rapid channel

    8) Species present indicate
maintenance of riparian soil moisture
Purpose: To determine if the water table level
is being maintained or raised as indicated by
the presence of riparian-wetland vegetation.
Maintenance of an existing water table or
restoration of a former one is vital to the
functionality of the system.
   Flow regime will dictate the kind and extent of
    riparian-wetland plants – need to understand site
   Obligate & Facultative Wetland plants must
    dominate the reach in order for a yes answer to be
Indicator Categories
In: National List of Plant Species that Occur in Wetlands (USFWS)
website --

Obligate Wetland (OBL): Occur
almost always in wetlands.
Facultative Wetland (FACW): Usually
occur in wetlands but occasionally in
Facultative (FAC): Equally likely to
occur in wetlands or nonwetlands.
Indicator Categories

Facultative Upland (FACU): Usually
occur in nonwetlands.
Obligate Upland (UPL): Occur in
wetlands in another region, but occur
almost always in nonwetlands.
Coyote willow - (FACW)
Nebraska sedge - (OBL)
No, little or no OBL & FACW species present --
streambank is dominated by FAC & UPL plants
“No” – Stream incised/incising – water table
being abandoned – OBL and FACW species
being replaced by facultative species
Yes, species present indicate maintenance
of riparian soil moisture characteristics at
new elevation

                     Yellow willow

 9) Streambank vegetation is comprised of
those plants or plant communities that have
 root masses capable of withstanding high
            stream flow events
Purpose: To determine if the right kinds of plants or
plant communities (deep rooted) occur on the
streambank. Deep rooted plants are necessary for
long-term streambank stability.

   Streambank is the part of the channel between the scour line
    and the first terrace (usually “bankfull” elevation)
   Not a quantity question per se
        Presence or absence
   Most obligate wetland or facultative wetland plants have root
    masses that stabilize streambanks
   Focus is on the streambank – are the streambanks comprised
    of at least patches of recognizable plant groupings?
Winward, 2000
             Root Length
             Manning, M.E., et al, 1989

Root Mass
Channel Stability Rating
                           Adequate Root

                                 Winward 2000
                                 Appendix B
No, streambank is comprised of shallow
rooted FAC & UPL species
Yes, streambank is comprised of stabilizers
(Beaked sedge & Nebraska sedge)
No, although streambank is dominated by
an obligate species (spikerush) but it is not
a deep rooted stabilizer
Streambank comprised of stabilizers?
10) Riparian-wetland plants exhibit
            high vigor
 Purpose: To determine if riparian-
 wetland plants are healthy and robust.
 Item is important but difficult to answer
    Look for obvious indicators of plant vigor
     (plant growth form, leaf color, plant size,
Plant Vigor-Leaves
and Roots
Caring for the Green Zone, Riparian Areas and
Grazing Management
Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Project,
“Cows and Fish Project”
        Low vigor of
       Nebraska Sedge

Are the herbaceous stabilizer (late seral) species obvious individual plants?
Are there new stabilizing herbaceous plants around the perimeter of the
Yes, obviously high vigor (herbaceous &
Low Plant Vigor (Arizona willow)
11) Adequate riparian-wetland vegetative
   cover present to protect banks and
   dissipate energy during high flows
  Purpose: To determine if there is an
  adequate amount of riparian-wetland
  vegetation cover. It is crucial for the
  banks to have enough R-W vegetation
  to be able to function properly.
     This item deals with amount while items 6-
      10 deal with other aspects of vegetation
                                 Key to Greenline Riparian Capability Groups (Winword 2000)
                    Percent gradient and substrate classes modified from Rosgen (1996).
                                                                                          USDA Forest Service Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-47. 2000

                                                Abbreviations Used:

                                                Sl ......................Silt ...............................<0.02 mm
                                                C ......................Clay .............................0.02-0.05 mm
                                                S ......................Sand ...........................0.05-2.0 mm
Values in parentheses refer to percent of the
                                                GR ...................Gravel .........................0.2-76 mm ....................08-3 in
greenline that should be represented            CB ...................Cobble .......................76-250 mm ..................3-9.8 in
by late seral community types or                BD ...................Boulder ......................>250 mm ......................>9.8 in
anchored rocks/logs when riparian               Consol. ...........Consolidated Material
areas fitting each capability group are         Non-Consol. ..Non-Consolidated Material
functioning properly.
                                                (Co Consolidated material refers to situations where at least one major soil horizon with within the
                                                root rooting zone consists of strongly compacted, cohesive, or Ce cemented particles.
No, inadequate amount of riparian-wetland
vegetation cover
No, inadequate amount of riparian-wetland
vegetation cover
Adequate amount of riparian-wetland
vegetation cover “No”
Yes, adequate amount of riparian-wetland
vegetation cover
Adequate amount of R-W veg cover ? No –
right bank is dominated by kentucky

Presence of riparian-wetland species
(item 8)? Yes (CANE)

Streambanks comprised of stabilizing
plants (item 9)? Yes
    12) Plant communities are an adequate
     source of coarse and/or large woody
     material (for maintenance/recovery)

Purpose: To determine if streamside
trees are present in adequate amounts
to be incorporated into the channel to
aid in energy dissipation.
 First must determine if large wood is
  necessary for functionality (many systems
  in the intermountain west do not require
  large wood for functionality)
 Sufficiently large to act as a hydrologic
Coarse/large wood is present and assisting
in stream function but is it necessary for
physical function?
Coarse/large wood is present and assisting in stream
function but is it necessary for physical function?
Hanna Creek, Black Hills
  Natural Riparian Resources


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