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Riparian Areas: Functions and Strategies for Management RIPARIAN AREAS Functions and Strategies for Management Committee on Riparian Zone Functioning and Strategies for Management Water Science and Technology Board Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology Division on Earth and Life Studies National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C.
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Riparian Areas: Functions and Strategies for Management NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20418 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. Support for this project was provided by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management under Contract No. PAA007017, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation under Contract No. 99-FG-81-0-0154, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service and Forest Service under Contract No. 68-3A75-0-170, the National Science Foundation under Contract No. DEB-9909095, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under Contract No. CR 826316-01-0, and the U.S. Geological Survey under Contract No. 98HQSA0429. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. International Standard Book Number: 0-309-08295-1 Library of Congress Control Number: 2002105957 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Box 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet <http://www.nap.edu>. Copyright 2002 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America
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Riparian Areas: Functions and Strategies for Management THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES National Academy of Sciences National Academy of Engineering Institute of Medicine National Research Council The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Wm. A. Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.
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Riparian Areas: Functions and Strategies for Management COMMITTEE ON RIPARIAN ZONE FUNCTIONING AND STRATEGIES FOR MANAGEMENT MARK M. BRINSON, Chair, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina LAWRENCE J. MacDONNELL, Vice Chair, Porzak, Browning & Bushong, Boulder, Colorado DOUGLAS J. AUSTEN, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Springfield ROBERT L. BESCHTA, Oregon State University, Corvallis THEO A. DILLAHA, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg DEBRA L. DONAHUE, University of Wyoming, Laramie STANLEY V. GREGORY, Oregon State University, Corvallis JUDSON W. HARVEY, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia MANUEL C. MOLLES, Jr., University of New Mexico, Albuquerque ELIZABETH I. ROGERS, White Water Associates, Inc., Amasa, Michigan JACK A. STANFORD, University of Montana, Polson NRC Staff LAURA J. EHLERS, Study Director ANITA A. HALL, Senior Project Assistant
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Riparian Areas: Functions and Strategies for Management WATER SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY BOARD RICHARD G. LUTHY, Chair, Stanford University, Stanford, California JOAN B. ROSE, Vice Chair, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg RICHELLE M. ALLEN-KING, Washington State University, Pullman GREGORY B. BAECHER, University of Maryland, College Park KENNETH R. BRADBURY, Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, Madison JAMES CROOK, CH2M Hill, Boston, Massachusetts EFI FOUFOULA-GEORGIOU, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis PETER GLEICK, Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security, Oakland, California STEVEN P. GLOSS, U.S. Geological Survey, Flagstaff, Arizona JOHN LETEY, Jr., University of California, Riverside DIANE M. McKNIGHT, University of Colorado, Boulder CHRISTINE L. MOE, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia RUTHERFORD H. PLATT, University of Massachusetts, Amherst JERALD L. SCHNOOR, University of Iowa, Iowa City LEONARD SHABMAN, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg R. RHODES TRUSSELL, Montgomery Watson, Pasadena, California Staff STEPHEN D. PARKER, Director LAURA J. EHLERS, Senior Staff Officer JEFFREY W. JACOBS, Senior Staff Officer WILLIAM S. LOGAN, Senior Staff Officer MARK C. GIBSON, Staff Officer M. JEANNE AQUILINO, Administrative Associate ELLEN A. DE GUZMAN, Research Associate PATRICIA JONES KERSHAW, Study/Research Associate ANITA A. HALL, Administrative Assistant ANIKE L. JOHNSON, Project Assistant JON Q. SANDERS, Project Assistant
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Riparian Areas: Functions and Strategies for Management BOARD ON ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES AND TOXICOLOGY GORDON ORIANS, Chair, University of Washington, Seattle JOHN DOULL, Vice Chair, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City DAVID ALLEN, University of Texas, Austin INGRID C. BURKE, Colorado State University, Fort Collins THOMAS BURKE, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland WILLIAM L. CHAMEIDES, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta CHRISTOPHER B. FIELD, Carnegie Institute of Washington, Stanford, California J. PAUL GILMAN, Celera Genomics, Rockville, Maryland DANIEL S. GREENBAUM, Health Effects Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts BRUCE D. HAMMOCK, University of California, Davis ROGENE HENDERSON, Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, Albuquerque, New Mexico CAROL HENRY, American Chemistry Council, Arlington, Virginia ROBERT HUGGETT, Michigan State University, East Lansing JAMES H. JOHNSON, Howard University, Washington, D.C. JAMES F. KITCHELL, University of Wisconsin, Madison DANIEL KREWSKI, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario JAMES A. MACMAHON, Utah State University, Logan WILLEM F. PASSCHIER, Health Council of the Netherlands, The Hague ANN POWERS, Pace University School of Law, White Plains, New York LOUISE M. RYAN, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts KIRK SMITH, University of California, Berkeley LISA SPEER, Natural Resources Defense Council, New York, New York Staff JAMES J. REISA, Director DAVID J. POLICANSKY, Associate Director and Senior Program Director for Applied Ecology RAYMOND A. WASSEL, Senior Program Director for Environmental Sciences and Engineering KULBIR BAKSHI, Program Director for the Committee on Toxicology ROBERTA M. WEDGE, Program Director for Risk Analysis K. JOHN HOLMES, Senior Staff Officer RUTH E. CROSSGROVE, Managing Editor
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Riparian Areas: Functions and Strategies for Management Preface Lands next to water are fundamental to the livelihood of many species of plants and animals, including humans. Birds and other wildlife aggregate in riparian areas, often in great abundance. At the same time, society values riparian areas for production of food and fiber, access to transportation, opportunities for recreation, and natural scenic beauty. This report examines the structure and functioning of riparian areas, how they have been altered by human activity, their legal status, and their potential for management and restoration. The committee assembled to write this report represents diverse backgrounds, among them various aspects of ecology, hydrology, environmental engineering, and water resources law and policy. Further, committee members come from different geographical areas and have had varied research and management experiences. The group met five times over a period of two years. This study is an outgrowth of the National Research Council (NRC) report Wetlands: Characteristics and Boundaries. The 1995 study recognized that floodplains of rivers in very different climates had similar functions, but that only those in humid climates were wet enough to be designated as wetlands. It became apparent that wetlands were being defined by the presence of a minimum amount of soil saturation necessary to select for plants capable of tolerating oxygen deficiency in the rooting zone—a definition that excludes many riparian areas. Riparian areas on the other hand are primarily defined by their position as those lands bordering streams, rivers, and lakes. (And there is no justifiable reason to exclude shorelines of estuaries and marine coasts.) Although wetlands and riparian areas provide many of the same environmental functions, the differences between their definitions are reflected in vastly different levels of protection.
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Riparian Areas: Functions and Strategies for Management The current legal and regulatory status of riparian areas is amazingly diverse. There are significant differences in how riparian areas are treated depending on whether they are publicly or privately owned; whether they are under federal, state, or local jurisdiction; and whether the land is agricultural, silvicultural, rangeland, or urban. This is in stark contrast to the situation with wetlands where a federal presence has provided some stability to local practices for more than two decades. Largely because of the geographic diversity of riparian areas, it is unrealistic to expect that one approach for restoration, or a handful of legal strategies, can resolve the multitude of problems and issues that face riparian areas. In spite of that, many of the recommendations in this report are derived from the fundamental principle that riparian areas are driven by hydrology, and that hydrologic alterations are among the most pernicious impacts. For a variety of reasons, the committee did not specifically treat economic issues, although several guest speakers provided economic perspectives and analyses. The costs and benefits of managing and protecting riparian areas weighed heavily in our deliberations. This is especially evident in the section on legal and social issues, both inherently economic topics. Any study of this scope should be comprehensive and regionally balanced. However, much of the imagery generated during riparian discussions at a national level had the western states as a backdrop. Further, the topics of dry-land irrigation, water law, and livestock grazing on public lands are strongly associated with the term “riparian.” Although these same topics apply in other regions of the country, they are nowhere as obvious (and in need of attention) than in the American West where so much land is held in the public trust. Where federal policies have caused problems, in most cases federal policies must be invoked to fix them. The committee would like to thank those who participated in its deliberations. Presentations from sponsoring organizations were made by Joe Williams, John Meagher, and Steve Schmelling from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Gail Mallard and Jonathan Friedman from the U.S. Geological Survey; Mitch Flanagan, Dennis Thompson, and Dave Seery from USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; Don Prichard from the Bureau of Land Management; and Jerry Christner and Jim Sedell from the U.S. Forest Service. Invited presenters also included Anne Hairston-Strang from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources; Juliet Stromberg and Robert Ohmart from Arizona State University; Patrick McCarthy from The Nature Conservancy; David Kovacic and John Braden from the University of Illinois at Urbana; Joe Colletti from Iowa State University; Mike Dosskey from the U.S. Forest Service National Agroforestry Center; and Chuck Elliot and Dennis Peters from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The committee was fortunate to have taken several field trips in conjunction with committee meetings. The following individuals are thanked for their partici-
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Riparian Areas: Functions and Strategies for Management pation in organizing and guiding these trips: Robert Parmenter, Cliff Dahm, and James Gosz from the University of New Mexico; Richard Schultz, Tom Isenhart, and Bill Simpkins from Iowa State University; Jerry Hatfield and Dana Dinnes of the U.S. Agricultural Research Service; Wayne Elmore of the Bureau of Land Management; Susan Holzman of the U.S. Forest Service; and John Anderson, retired. Committee members are grateful to the leadership provided by Laura Ehlers of the National Research Council in serving as the institutional memory of the committee, organizing committee meetings, and synthesizing, coordinating, and editing the report. Anita Hall was instrumental in creating problem-free arrangements for our meetings. More formally, the report has been reviewed by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the authors and the NRC in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The reviews and draft manuscripts remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: Robert Adler, University of Utah College of Law; Paul Barten, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Nancy Grimm, Arizona State University; Clayton Marlow, Montana State University; Robert Naiman, University of Washington; Brian Richter, The Nature Conservancy; Richard Schultz, Iowa State University; and Juliet Stromberg, Arizona State University. Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Wilford Gardner, University of California at Berkeley. Appointed by the NRC, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the NRC. Mark M. Brinson, Chair
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Riparian Areas: Functions and Strategies for Management Contents Summary 1 1 INTRODUCTION 23 Historical Use of Riparian Areas, 24 Definition of “Riparian,” 29 Distinguishing Riparian Areas from Other Areas, 34 Scope of the Study, 43 Conclusion, 46 References, 46 2 STRUCTURE AND FUNCTIONING OF RIPARIAN AREAS ACROSS THE UNITED STATES 49 Fluvial Processes and Sediment Dynamics, 49 Hydrologic and Biogeochemical Processes, 58 Regional Climate and Resulting Riparian Vegetation, 77 Riparian Areas as Habitat, 109 Environmental Services of Riparian Areas, 120 Conclusions, 123 References, 127 3 HUMAN ALTERATIONS OF RIPARIAN AREAS 144 Hydrologic and Geomorphic Alterations, 145 Agriculture, 161 Industrial, Urban, and Recreational Impacts, 177
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Riparian Areas: Functions and Strategies for Management Current Status of Riparian Lands in the United States, 199 Conclusions and Recommendations, 207 References, 211 4 EXISTING LEGAL STRATEGIES FOR RIPARIAN AREA PROTECTION 225 Protection of Privately Owned Riparian Areas, 227 Protection of Federal Lands, 250 Protection of Water Resources, 266 Critical Evaluation of the Potentially Most Influential Programs, 276 Conclusions and Recommendations, 291 References, 295 5 MANAGEMENT OF RIPARIAN AREAS 299 Goals of Management, 300 Tools for Assessing Riparian Areas, 317 Management Strategies, 352 Conclusions and Recommendations, 407 References, 409 APPENDIX A: COMMITTEE MEMBER AND STAFF BIOGRAPHIES 425