Paper No. 99013 of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association. Discussions are open until April 1, 2001.
GRASS VERSUS TREES: MANAGING RIPARIAN AREAS TO BENEFIT STREAMS OF CENTRAL NORTH AMERICA1
Article first published online: 8 JUN 2007
JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association
Volume 36, Issue 4, pages 919–930, August 2000
How to Cite
Lyons, J., Thimble, S. W. and Paine, L. K. (2000), GRASS VERSUS TREES: MANAGING RIPARIAN AREAS TO BENEFIT STREAMS OF CENTRAL NORTH AMERICA. JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 36: 919–930. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-1688.2000.tb04317.x
- Issue published online: 8 JUN 2007
- Article first published online: 8 JUN 2007
- aquatic ecosystems;
- land use planning;
- nonpoint source pollution;
- riparian vegetation;
- stream restoration;
- watershed management
ABSTRACT: Forestation of riparian areas has long been promoted to restore stream ecosystems degraded by agriculture in central North America. Although trees and shrubs in the riparian zone can provide many benefits to streams, grassy or herbaceous riparian vegetation can also provide benefits and may be more appropriate in some situations. Here we review some of the positive and negative implications of grassy versus wooded riparian zones and discuss potential management outcomes. Compared to wooded areas, grassy riparian areas result in stream reaches with different patterns of bank stability, erosion, channel morphology, cover for fish, terrestrial runoff, hydrology, water temperature, organic matter inputs, primary production, aquatic macroinvertebrates, and fish. Of particular relevance in agricultural regions, grassy riparian areas may be more effective in reducing bank erosion and trapping suspended sediments than wooded areas. Maintenance of grassy riparian vegetation usually requires active management (e.g., mowing, burning, herbicide treatments, and grazing), as successional processes will tend ultimately to favor woody vegetation. Riparian agricultural practices that promote a dense, healthy, grassy turf, such as certain types of intensively managed livestock grazing, have potential to restore degraded stream ecosystems.