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Riparian Planting Effectiveness Monitoring
Program At-a-Glance
Riparian Planting Effectiveness Activities At-a-Glance (Word)

Many areas of the state have identified the lack of healthy stream side vegetation as one of the limiting factors related to the decline of water quality and fish habitat.  Early on, before OWEB was a state agency many riparian planting and fencing projects were implemented under the Watershed Health Program and Governor’s Watershed Enhancement Board (GWEB).  These riparian restoration projects were designed to improve riparian vegetation conditions and in turn help restore water quality and fish habitat.  Riparian planting projects use native shrubs and trees to stabilize stream banks, displace invasive species, provide stream shade, and provide habitat and food sources for fish and wildlife species.  Mature trees that fall into the stream also provide hiding and resting places for fish and other aquatic species.  Riparian fencing projects are designed to exclude livestock, and in some cases wildlife, from riparian areas when overuse is potentially damaging to sensitive stream banks and the stream bed.
In 2009, OWEB contracted with Demeter Design, Inc. to conduct a retrospective analysis of a representative sample of riparian restoration and fencing projects in basins located in the South Coast and Grande Ronde areas of Oregon. 
Effectiveness monitoring for riparian restoration and fencing projects is based upon determining whether these investments 1) still exist on the landscape; 2) if projects are meeting the original objectives to a) increase riparian cover, b) increase stream shade, c) reduce livestock pressure on the riparian area, d) increase stream bank stability and e) reduce stream bank erosion; 3) evaluate the current riparian vegetation structure.
/OWEB/MONITOR/PublishingImages/riparian_2.jpgProject Summary
Using information obtained from project files and benefitting from the support of watershed councils, soil and water conservation districts and other local partners, 77 projects implemented between 1995 and 1998 by GWEB were visited during the summer of 2009 to collect field data.  Finding project locations was challenging, and resulted in being able to locate and gain landowner permission on less than 20% of the total implemented projects.  Projects were compared, in some cases, to the riparian vegetation conditions that existed on the opposite side of the stream from the original project location.  Projects were also compared to local “reference stream reaches” which are designed to reflect a minimally disturbed condition. 
When data from the completed projects were analyzed results indicate that:
  • Completed project sites have less riparian canopy cover compared to local, reference stream reaches.
  •  Completed projects sites have similar riparian shrub and tree species as the local, reference stream reaches but are not yet mature enough to provide increased stream shade in the South Coast.
  • Compared to the opposite stream side, riparian vegetation conditions on completed projects is generally similar.  In the South Coast, there was increased percentage of grasses and forbs on the project site which may lead to an exclusion of invasive species. 
  • Riparian fencing status was evaluated on forty-nine completed projects and had a failure rate of 83% in the Coquille basin and 54% in the Grande Ronde.
A few lessons learned from the project are:
  • Accurately defined project locations were, in some cases, deficient in the original project plans and led to poor success rates when attempting to re-locate project locations. 
  • Continued maintenance of both riparian plant establishment and riparian fencing may need to be evaluated over time to ensure project success.
How will OWEB use this information?
  • This information will help guide future riparian planting and riparian fencing projects and provides a good starting point to evaluate additional areas of the state for these restoration actions over time.
  • Recently, OWEB has devoted resources, in some cases, strictly to riparian plant establishment which should lead an increased likelihood of success for riparian plant establishment restoration actions.
  • OWEB is also providing state of the art GIS and information management tools that are available for grantees to use when reporting on completed projects and also allow for increased accuracy and accountability in project tracking and reporting.