Riparian Habitat

Why focus on riparian protection and recovery?

riparian-billy-quoteRiparian ecosystems perform important functions that affect salmon and other aquatic and terrestrial wildlife. Riparian forests filter sediment and pollutants from stormwater runoff that would otherwise enter the stream system. The forest also reduces erosion – the roots hold soil in place, and the forest reduces flooding by slowing the flow of rain and flood waters. Riparian forests provide nutrients and food (by dropping organic matter), and shade to streams (through overhanging vegetation). As trees die, the forest contributes large woody debris to the river system. Cold, clear water is essential for Pacific salmon survival.

It is important to understand the complexity of healthy stream systems essential to salmon during their freshwater stages of life. Stream health is closely and intricately tied to the surrounding area, the riparian habitat. The aquatic habitat interacts with its healthy riparian corridor within the watershed, in turn promoting ecosystem diversity within its healthy stream habitat.

Native riparian vegetation protects the stream from erosion, temperature extremes and pollutants. Marine nutrients from migrating salmon are used by preying species and insects, benefiting both terrestrial and aquatic food webs. Healthy native riparian areas provide vegetation and large woody debris that create protection and feeding areas, and resting pools for salmon.

The Stream Table

salmon-defense-stream-table-water-festivalThe Salmon Defense interactive “Stream Table” is designed to teach how a river system functions and to see how human activities change the river and its ability to support fish, clean water and a functioning ecosystem.

The Salmon Defense “Stream Table” can be found at various community events. Recently events include:

  • Stillaguamish Tribe’s Festival of the River and Pow Wow. This is a wonderful event initiated by the Stillaguamish Tribe 24 years ago to help people who live and work in the surrounding regions understand how their actions can help make their environment healthier for people, fish and wildlife. It is a celebration of the river and its people.
  • Salmon Homecoming Celebration
  • Kennedy Creek Salmon Trail