Management of riparian areas

Key components to management of riparian areas are directly linked to maintaining good soil and water conservation practices across the landscape and preserving, as much as possible, the integrity of the natural riparian zone. Specific land management practices that protect riparian areas include:

  • Maintaining a vegetative cover over the soil throughout the year
  • Minimizing animal trampling or vehicle traffic on wet soils or in riparian areas
  • Avoiding overuse of fertilizers or manure that may be transported into riparian areas
  • Avoiding disposing of toxic substances on soils
  • Protecting against loss of plant diversity and vitality in riparian areas
  • Protecting against the establishment of exotic or non-water-loving species in riparian areas
  • Avoiding or minimizing practices that artificially alter stream flow

In some cases, the condition of the riparian area has diminished to the point that it may require some investment to bring the area up to a healthier or proper functioning condition. Contact with Fisheries and Oceans Canada for advice on management strategies in or near riparian areas is strongly advised and encouraged. Stewardship groups, watershed groups, roundtables, industry initiatives such as the BC Cattlemen’s Association’s Farmland - Riparian Interface Stewardship Program have resources and expertise that can be coupled with beneficial management practices to maximize riparian and farm benefits. These groups have experience working with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and can provide complimentary approaches.

Riparian Management Field Workbook

This publication has been developed to support the protection and voluntary restoration of riparian and stream-based fish and wildlife habitat in agricultural areas. It is an assessment and improvement tool and is part of the Environmental Farm Planning Program.

Planning buildings in riparian areas

An overview on building setback standards from watercourses and wetlands in farming areas and the importance of riparian vegetation.

Monitoring riparian areas

Monitoring is an important component of any grazing management plan. It provides measurables that allow you to determine whether the objectives of these plans are being met. Without it, you have no ability to determine whether your grazing practice has positively or negatively influence the functionality of your riparian area.

Livestock watering in riparian areas

It is important to consider access to water for livestock while also protecting riparian areas.

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Winter feeding stewardship

Livestock seasonal feeding areas must be selected with care to ensure the well-being of the herd and the health of production areas are maintained, and to minimize the risk of environmental impacts.

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Riparian pasture design

When designing riparian pastures, it is important to consider practical issues such as fence lines, number of corners, access to water and season of use. An assessment of the vegetation both within the riparian area and on the upland area is also a necessary consideration.

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Effects of cattle grazing near streams, lakes and wetlands

The Forest Practices Board completed an assessment and report on the health of riparian areas subject to cattle grazing on Crown land across four forest districts in the southern half of B.C. Read about this results-based assessment of range practices under the Forest Practices Code in maintaining riparian values. Ten indicators of riparian health were measured at 391 sites in Cranbrook, Kamloops, Horsefly and Penticton districts. Half the sites were on streams and half on wetlands and lakes.