Riparian and Wetland Management


Riparian areas are lands adjacent to creeks, streams, lakes, and rivers that support vegetation dependent upon free water in the soil. They are sometimes called "Ribbon-of-Green" because the vegetation on waterway banks forms a ribbon-like pattern when seen from the air. These areas, containing water and vegetation in the otherwise arid Western United States, are important to fish and wildlife species, as well as to livestock. Since they dissipate water energy and filter the water flowing through them, riparian-wetland areas can affect the health of entire watersheds. Wetlands are generally defined as areas inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support vegetation this is typically adapted for life in saturated soil. Wetlands include bogs, marshes, shallows, muskegs, wet meadows, estuaries, and riparian areas.

Wetland Health

A riparian-wetland area is healthy and functioning when adequate vegetation, landform, or large woody debris is present to dissipate energy associated with high water flow. A healthy riparian-wetland area exhibits certain characteristics, such as:

Technical Guidelines

The BLM's National Science and Technology Center in Denver has a The technical reference library with a listing of available publications for integrated resource management, inventory and monitoring classification, riparian area management, stream channel surveys, and rangeland inventory monitoring and evaluation.

The Reference Guides section of this website has documents concerning wetlands identification, activities, and financial and technical assistance for conservation and management.