Learn more about what stream enhancement is and how we do this valuable work in our community!
What is a stream enhancement project?
A streamside (or riparian) enhancement project is an effort to remove invasive, weedy plants and restore native vegetation to improve stream and habitat health.
A “buffer” refers to the vegetation along streams. We measure buffer width starting from the top of the streambank. The landowner can choose the desired buffer width to enroll in the program (between 30 and 180 feet).
What does a healthy streamside area looks like?
Streamside areas around Washington County may vary considerably in their appearance depending on the specific conditions in that area (elevation, stream type, management, etc.). All healthy streamside areas share similar characteristics though:
- A thick growth of plants with many species of grasses, small plants called forbs, shrubs, and trees that cover the streambanks and provide shade.
- Land next to the streambanks usually remains wet throughout most of the year on many sites.
- Stream flow levels vary only moderately throughout the year.
- Streamwater is relatively clear but contains debris from streambanks (leaves, twigs, or logs) that create pools and other habitat for fish and aquatic insects.
- A diversity of wildlife including fish, aquatic life, mammals, and birds. (Source: Ohio State online)
Why plant buffers?
Planting trees and shrubs along streamside areas:
- Shades the stream, keeping water cool.
- Helps stabilize the bank and reduce erosion.
- Slows and filters run-off.
- Increases food and shelter for wildlife and pollinators.
- Slows the spread of invasive weeds.
Before we start work on a project, we meet with the landowner in a site visit. This helps us get to know the property and to make a plan that is specific to your needs, as well as to ensure we are selecting the most beneficial projects. After a site visit, time is spent planning the project and getting necessary agreements in place.
The District hires professional restoration contractors who will use a combination of herbicide application and mowing/cutting to control weeds and therefore allow for the success of native plants. A typical project will receive 3 to 4 weed treatments per year.
We plant a variety of trees and shrubs native to the Willamette Valley. Some examples include Douglas-fir, bigleaf maple, red alder, snowberry, red-osier dogwood, and a few different willow species. There are many others to choose from. We will work with you if there are certain species you’d like to plant or avoid.
The District maintains the plants and controls the weeds in the project for the remainder of the contract. After the project ends, re-enrollment in the program may be available.
Learn more about how our Stream Enhancement Programs can help you control weeds, plant natives, and secure these valuable benefits.