Bear Creek is the home to several species of native fish and other animals. These animals require cold, clean water to thrive. By keeping our streams shaded with trees, we keep the hot summer sun from further increasing the temperature of the stream water. These heavily vegetated areas along streams or riverbanks are called riparian zones. Trees and shrubs in healthy riparian zones buffer homes against floodwaters, secure the stream bank with their roots preventing bank erosion, and filter out pollutants, as well as provide critical shade and wildlife habitat.
By removing non-native and invasive plants, planting native tree and shrub species, and maintaining the plantings with some summer irrigation for the first few years, we increase the likelihood that our local streams will remain viable fish habitat and more healthy for all of us to live near for many generations. That is Stream Smart!
NOTE: Always contact your local jurisdiction before working along the stream. Even if you are planning to benefit the stream, there are regulations and ordinances about how that can be done. If you live in a city, contact either the Planning or Public Works Department of your town. If you live in the Jackson County jurisdiction, contact Jackson County Development Services.
These people are planning on maintaining their streamside vegetation to benefit water quality and native fish.
It is a real commitment to adopt a section of streamside vegetation for restoration. Weeds, often tenacious blackberries, can be hard to eradicate and keep from taking over. New plantings must receive a little water for their first few summers in our region. But by keeping the invasive weeds at bay, we can allow natives to flourish, providing shade on the stream, protecting the bank and stream channel, and providing habitat. These resources can provide more information:
Plant a tree. No matter where you live in the watershed, a tree makes a difference. Trees intercept and slow stormwater runoff allowing more water to soak into the ground and recharge the groundwater supply. As a result, pollutants that might have flown into streams and rivers are instead absorbed into the soil where they are slowly broken down. Trees also act as natural air conditioners and keep the air and water cool. If you go out for a walk on a hot day you know how nice it is to find a big shade tree to rest under. Additional information on the benefit of trees.
Participate in streamside restoration projects. Even if you do not live next to a stream there are many opportunities to volunteer to improve our watershed. Check out the upcoming Events for the valley.
Remove Invasive species. Invasive plants are plant species that can spread aggressively, rapidly and widely affecting our agricultural and forest economies and other resources such as fish, wildlife, recreation and overall watershed health. By removing and properly disposing of invasive species we are preventing their spread and impact, allowing desirable native plant species to thrive. The Oregon Department of Agriculture maintains the official state noxious weed list for Oregon, which consists of species that are specifically monitored due to their effect on agriculture, wildlife, public and recreation. More information is available on the Oregon Weeds List.