Our Rivers: So Much More Than Water!

The forested land along rivers, streams, and lakes is known as the "riparian zone".  Riparian comes from the Latin word ripa, which means bank. Riparian zones are areas of transition between aquatic and upland ecosystems, and they offer numerous, yet often overlooked, benefits to wildlife and people.  Only within the past few decades have we come to realize the ecological value of riparian areas. In fact, until the late 1960s riparian and stream ecosystems of the eleven western United States were viewed as "sacrifice" areas, being dedicated primarily to providing food and water for domestic livestock. Stoddart, L.A., and A. Smith. 1955. Range management, 2nd edition. McGraw-Hill, New York, NY

Although they comprise a small proportion of the total landscape, they are among the most diverse biological systems on earth Naiman, R. J., H. Décamps, and M. Pollock. 1993.   The role of riparian corridors in maintaining regional biodiversity.  Ecological Applications 3:209-12., and they perform important services to people which no amount of human effort and technology can do as well.  As our population increases, there will be increased pressures to use riparian areas for a variety of commercial and recreational purposes.  It is vital that we all become involved in the conservation and restoration of these areas.

Big Darby Creek, Ohio


© Robert Carillio s_r_enterprises@hotmail.com and Jay DeLong thirdwind@att.net