What Are Riparian Zones? The importance
of riverside vegetation.
MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP - Riparian is defined as, "of, relating to, or situated on the banks of a river." That being said, riparian lands specify the area near the edges of any river.
These lands, or zones, are the areas of vegetation that lie between the river and the rest of the land. Typically between the river and a field or a lawn.
These zones are used as a buffer for rivers, and other waters, to keep pollution from agricultural, urban, or residential use from running directly into the river. This helps keep the water quality from diminishing.
We need healthy riparian lands so that they absorb sediments, as well as chemical nutrients and other pollutants. They also help to control, or slow, the erosion process.
These zones, when they're in good condition, can help offer diverse habitats for all sorts of important critters. Such as fish, and other wildlife.
Now that we've covered the importance of riparian zones, we should probably talk about what you can do to help protect the water edge.
If you can, keep a buffer between your lawn and the river. A good fifteen to twenty-five feet would be ideal. The vegetation there, even if it doesn't look perfect, is there to provide stability for the rivers edge via a complex root system.
If you do feel the need to tear down what's growing beside the river, be sure to plant native Michigan plants. They help improve water quality, and they can look attractive. These native plants have deep roots which help to absorb runoff and break down pollutants.
That's not all you can do to help keep our water clean though, you can reduce turf grass. When turf grass is planted by the shoreline it's roots aren't deep or strong enough to stabilize the stream banks, or shorelines. Meaning, that in the future you could face some serious issues with erosion.