My Place on a Stream Developed by: Sherman Swanson, University of Nevada, Reno Susan Donaldson, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension UNCE, Reno, Nev.
Topics • What do you like about living near a stream? • What’s a riparian area and floodplain, and why are they important? • Signs of a healthy stream • Signs of an unhealthy stream • Tips on taking care of your stream and watershed
What’s a stream? • A body of water that flows year-round • Naturally occurring • May have been straightened at some point in the past to deliver irrigation water, but was not originally constructed to convey irrigation water (that’s a ditch!)
Why did you pay more for a property with a stream? UNR, Reno, Nev. Why should property in a floodplain cost less?
Flows vary with time • In your watershed, when are stream flows highest? Lowest? • Can you remember the last flood? Where did the water go? • Where does the water come from during dry weather?
Floodplains store water for later release USDA NRCS NRCS
Riparian areas support water-lovingplants and help recharge groundwater NRCS, Bozeman, Mont., adapted by A. Miller
Why are riparian areas important? • Reduced downstream flooding • Increased stream flows in dry weather • Sediment and pollutants are trapped • Nutrients are cycled USDA NRCS
Why are riparian areas important? • Vegetation provides shade to keep water cool • Stream and bank stability are increased • Provide habitat for fish and other wildlife UNCE, Reno, Nev.
Signs of a healthy stream • Vegetation present to protect and stabilize banks • There is a high water table with lots of water storage • The water quality is good • More consistent water temperature with shade • Longer or more consistent flows • Balance of water and sediment flowing through the system
A healthy, functioning stream Add photo Montana UNCE, Reno, Nev.
How do streams degrade? Leg 1: If streamside soils don’t retain enoughwater, they don’t grow the right kinds of plants Leg 2: If streams don’t floodonto their floodplains, they store little water and erode a lot Leg 3: If streams don’t sustain healthy riparianvegetation, they erode
How do streams degrade? • If streams erode too much, they lose access to their floodplain Too many have already done so! DNRC, Mont.
Signs of an unhealthy stream • Low water table and less water storage • Little shade and warmer water • Poor water quality • Little vegetation and roots to protect and stabilize banks • Poor floodplain access • Stream shape wrong for the setting
What signs of an unhealthy stream do you see? UNCE, Reno, Nev.
How do streams regain health? A. Miller
But what if I can’t spare the land? • Make a deal with your stream to give it some floodplain access and riparian vegetation for more long-term stability and less worry • Seek out professionals who understand: • upstream and downstream connections • proper functioning conditions • necessary tools
Legal aspects of working in riparian areas and streams • Federal permits (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 404 permits) • State authorities (pollution control, fish and wildlife agencies, etc.) • Local government (special use permits, grading and excavation, dust control plans, buffer zones, etc.)
So what do I do? Tips for: • Managing livestock near streams • Living near a floodplain • Designing in-stream projects • Building or fixing roads and bridges • Controlling pollution • Managing streams for wildlife • Enjoying your stream or riparian area
Manage livestock near streams Keep animal handling facilities away from the stream UNR, Reno, Nev.
Manage livestock near streams Use water gaps or ramps UNR, Reno, Nev.
Manage livestock near streams Armor for intense use USDA NRCS
Manage livestock near streams Water livestock off-stream USDA NRCS
Manage livestock near streams Don’t overgraze – leave some leaf area UNR, Reno, Nev. UNR, Reno, Nev.
Manage livestock near streams Monitor willows for proper grazing UNR, Reno, Nev.
Manage livestock near streams Build fences away from streams UNR, Reno, Nev.
Manage livestock near streams Place salt away from the stream UNR, Reno, Nev. UNR, Reno, Nev.
Living near a floodplain If possible, don’t live in a floodplain UNR, Reno, Nev.
Living near a floodplain If you live in a floodplain, get insurance UNCE, Reno, Nev.
Living in a floodplain Put flood-compatible uses in floodplains • Parks • Recreation • Open spaces • Agriculture • Wildlife habitat • Parking lots UNR, Reno, Nev.
Designing in-stream projects • Before starting a project, consult with others: • Neighbors who will be affected • Agencies: local, state, and federal • Watershed groups • Consultants • Etc. Avoid in-stream projects that change water flow
Designing in-stream projects Water flows faster along smooth surfaces - consider a bioengineering alternative UNR,, Reno, Nev.
Designing in-stream projects Keep ponds out of the stream channel UNCE, Reno, Nev.
Design water diversion structures carefully Design roads carefully UNCE, Reno, Nev. UNR, Reno, Nev.
Control pollution • Keep soil covered to prevent erosion • Manage manure • Read and follow the label on pesticide containers • Dispose of household hazardous wastes properly (don’t dump in a storm sewer, which often flows directly to a creek) • Maintain a riparian buffer strip
Enjoy your stream/riparian area • Relax near the sights and quiet sounds • Enjoy the wildflowers and other plants • Plant vegetation that attracts wildlife • Learn to identify birds and other wildlife • Orient windows, decks, etc. to see the beauty USDA NRCS
Inventory your riparian area • Identify areas with accelerated erosion • Note places where land use has removed or weakened the vegetation • Learn to identify key riparian plants • Draw or photograph your stream • Learn where flooding helps a stream slow velocity and store water by spreading out
Inventory your riparian area Note any channel/floodplain- altering projects, structures, or activities UNCE, Reno, Nev. Know your watershed groups and local experts about streams and floodplains in your area.
Homework • List goals for your creek and floodplain. • Encourage natural recovery. • Learn to live with floods. • List specific objectives. • Allow the stream to become lined with willows. • Give the stream room to move and flood on my property. • Help the watershed group with their cleanup project.
Homework • List actions to start or stop. • Graze the pasture only until livestock begin grazing on the willows, then move them. • Move the road away from the edge of the stream. • Attend public meeting about flood management projects.
Monitoring • List questions you have about your creek and the effects of your management. • Are these plants surviving? • What will happen to my creek when they build the subdivision upstream? • Is the erosion caused by my bridge about to stop? • Record what you (or others) do. • Three horses grazed from April 1 to May 1 and from mid-June to mid-July. • Record the effects. • Moving stock out of the pasture in mid-July allowed the willows to grow.
Monitoring • Take lots of photos, date and label them. • Record what happens in the long run. • After the floodplain and willows returned, the stream developed pools where fish like to hide. Follow these tips and you’ll enjoy your place on a stream for years to come.
So You Think You Want a Pond? Developed by: Susan Donaldson University of Nevada Cooperative Extension USDA NRCS
What we’ll cover • What is a pond? • Why have a pond? • Types of ponds • Pond requirements and issues • Site considerations • Water quality, vegetation and fish • Maintaining your pond
What’s a pond? • Lake: more than 10 acres • Pond: less than 10 acres • Pond: manmade • Arbitrary distinction - smaller than a lake! UNCE, Reno, Nev.
Why do you want to have a pond? • Irrigation water storage (is it legal?) • Stock watering • Aesthetics • Wildlife habitat • Fish production • Recreation • Fire suppression, etc. USDA NRCS
Pros and cons of pond ownership • Aesthetics versus ugliness • Water storage versus legal issues • Livestock watering versus water quality • Recreation versus public health, safety, risk management • Habitat versus nuisance species USDA NRCS
Ponds are a lot of work! UNCE, Reno, Nev.
Contemplating a pond? • Consider water sources • Surface runoff • Streams • Springs • Groundwater • Wells • Seeps USDA NRCS