riparian buffers improve water quality and benefit surrounding wildlife
A variety of past and current land uses within the Hangman Creek, Little Spokane River, and Deep/Coulee Creek watersheds have contributed to a steady degradation in our local water quality. Unsustainable agricultural, forestry, and grazing practices combined with urban development have resulted in erosion and sedimentation, nutrient loading, riparian buffer loss, wetland destruction, and contaminated stormwater runoff. As a result, water bodies in these watersheds do not meet Washington State water quality standards for parameters such as fecal coliform, dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, and temperature.
In order to improve water quality and public health in these degraded watersheds, The Lands Council is recruiting private landowners interested in implementing riparian restoration activities on their properties or farms; and providing information on proper household fertilizer use and disposal, septic system maintenance, pet waste management, and lawn clipping disposal. We’re also facilitating field-based water quality educational programming with secondary school students in these watersheds and guiding public/elected officials on place-based, informational kayak tours. Our comprehensive, multi-year native plant restoration program – which targets high-risk tributaries and confluence areas – will result in optimum age class, density, species diversity, and canopy cover to stabilize streambanks, filter pollutants coming off the land, and reduce elevated stream temperatures.
The Lands Council’s intention with its riparian restoration is a phased approach – working on riparian health and landowner education now will prepare these watersheds for beaver reintroduction in suitable reaches later to attenuate flows; reduce the magnitude of flashy spring runoff events; maintain higher water levels in the critical summer period; and create wetlands and fish and wildlife habitat.