Integrated Riverscape Management
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Because of the layering of authorities among governments, no one entity is responsible for, or funded to address the needs of, whole riverscapes. This page explores how the balkanization of governments potentially results in the incoherent application of resources and policies to the management aquatic ecosystems. Integrated Riverscape Management is a proposed alternative approach, whereby an integrated assessment of water systems at a local scale considers the full range of public trust interest, including farmland preservation, groundwater recharge, wetland functions, water quantity quality, salmon habitat, carbon sequestration and storage, and preservation of biodiversity. This approach presumes that developing local resources and capacities to develop multifunctional projects will result in more resources applied more efficiently to regenerate landscapes, that people care about.
The prescription to protect Riparian Buffering Functions are often contested. Aquatic habitat is critical for valued species like Salmon which are central to claims by Tribal Governments over Treaty Rights at Risk. Riparian zones are managed with Revegetation techniques, most of which are within Agroforestry practices, but where the products are Ecosystem Services rather than agricultural products. Riparian management is central to state and federal law, particularly the Shoreline Management Act, Critical Areas Regulation, and Forest Practices Act for the state, and Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act of the federal side. The Planning and Funding Systems which provides the resources to support the owner or manager of a particular buffer may support narrow activities or only support specific purposes. This complexity has resulted in overlapping layers of requirements and regulations and incentives that are difficult to analyze as a whole system. Integrated riparian buffer management is an attempt to organize the desired functions, regulations, measurements, funding, and opportunities in riverine landscapes, for the purpose of restoring and protecting ecosystem functions, goods and services.
The following efforts either support or may be supported by integrated buffer thinking:
- Integrated Floodplain Management efforts may contain the largest riparian landscapes, as floodplains by definition contain large interconnected riparian landscapes, and are highly regulated.
- Sno-Stilly Riparian Zone Management Strategy was an attempt to use GIS-based hydraulic modeling to better describe surface water flow pathways and features that could be used at a parcel or catchment scale to design buffer functions.
- Riparian Restoration and Protection Initiative was an attempt by NEP and Ecology to increase the rate and scope of buffer restoration.
- Working Buffer Pilot Project was initiated by Snohomish Conservation District and NOAA Restoration Center to evaluate landowner interest in buffer development, and pilot buffers that include agricultural products.
The following documents provide key information to inform an integrated approach to buffer management.