The Importance of Riparian Areas
Well over 300 species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians depend on California's riparian habitats. "Riparian" refers to the unique ecosystems that surround the banks of river and streams. The individuals in a riparian community have specific adaptations for living in repeatedly flooded environments. Riparian forests provide critical wildlife habitat for migratory songbirds, waterfowl, Chinook salmon, steelhead, and a host of other species.
Riparian corridors are highly favorable for wildlife. They are the areas with the most water and the densest plant cover, providing predator protection, shade, breeding and nesting areas, and food sources.
Intact rivers and riparian areas attract more than wildlife. People hike, boat, fish, hunt, and explore these areas, bringing tourism dollars into the local economy. Healthy riparian areas improve water quality, reduce erosion, attract beneficial insects, and enhance a variety of recreational opportunities. For their lushness and productivity, many consider riparian areas "The rainforests of California."
Unfortunately, less than 5 percent of riparian forests remain in California's Central Valley. Although progress in restoration and protection has been made in the last 10 years, threat to these valuable habitats continue, and as many as 25 percent of the species dependent on these area are now at risk of extinction.
Many of our projects target these at risk species: