The Role Of Riparian Zones On Water Quality And Wildlife Habitat

2672 Words Jul 17th, 2015 11 Pages
The role of riparian zones cannot be understated in relation to water quality and wildlife habitat. A riparian zone refers to stream bank system, including the stream, soils, flora, and fauna within it. Riparian buffers, specifically, are one of the most significant structures to implement along streams and rivers because of the structure’s many functions and abilities. Riparian buffer zones act as a canopy to shade and cool stream temperatures, as a filter strip to attenuate sediment, pollutant, and nutrient runoff, and as a wildlife habitat, all wrapped into one. Riparian buffers also act as corridors, connecting one forest segment to another, which aids in the movement of migratory wildlife and those with larger home ranges. To explore the significance of these areas, one must look at how they function simultaneously to serve as wildlife corridors, filters, and stream shade. Under most circumstances, managing for wildlife should include the following criteria: Managing riparian vegetation, preventing pollution and sedimentation of water, and ensuring proper vegetation and forest type are the primary focuses of management. Since the first European settlement, over 70% of wetlands in the United States have been destroyed, mostly due to agriculture, mining, and urbanization. (Kelly, 2014) The Illinois Department of Natural Resources Land Reclamation Division ensures that all active mining sites in Illinois are reclaimed and properly restored in order to promote wildlife…

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