The land adjacent to a stream is called the riparian zone. Riparian forests are an important part of Pacific Northwest watersheds and the riparian ecosystem performs 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 (by dropping organic matter), cover (through overhanging vegetation) and shade to streams. As trees die, the forest contributes large woody debris to the river system.
According to the annual State of the Salmon in Watersheds report*, Puget Sound “has experienced substantial loss and degradation of native ecosystems types over the last 150 years” including 50% loss in riparian forest cover and 90% loss in old-growth forests. With help from dozens of local partners, public and private landowners, and thousands of volunteers, Sound Salmon Solutions is working to restore riparian habitat in the Snohomish, Stillaguamish, and Island County watersheds. We work on private and public land, and work with agricultural and residential property owners to control non-native, invasive vegetation and plant native trees and shrubs.
Visit our Volunteer page to see how you can participate in riparian restoration!
*To access the full report, please visit: http://www.rco.wa.gov/salmon_recovery/gsro.shtml