Trees, shrubs, and other plants that grow directly on the bank of a river are called riparian vegetation. If the area in which riparian vegetation exists is large enough, this area can be considered a riparian buffer. Studies show that riparian buffers significantly reduce pollutant runoff into the river and provide shelter for many animals. Riparian buffers interrupt the flow of surface water runoff into a river, forcing water to slow down and soak into the soil.
In some forms, nutrient pollutants that soak into the ground can then be used by plants for growth. In addition to reducing pollutant runoff, the roots of various plants provide structural support for river banks by holding the soil together.
As a citizen you can find information about how to help establish and maintain riparian buffers by contacting local agencies such as the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, or River County Resource Conservation and Development Council. If you or someone you know owns land along the Lower Chippewa River, you may also want to remove some or all of your lawn, or change the way you care for it. Replace lawn directly on the riverbank with native vegetation. Only water an existing lawn when necessary and avoiding using pesticides and herbicides, especially if no riparian buffer is present. It is important that we maintain riparian buffers so that they can continue to minimize pollution, reduce erosion, and provide habitat for wildlife within the Lower Chippewa River State Nature Area.