Individual states develop guidelines to protect and manage forest riparian resources. A
review of 49 states’ forest riparian guidelines (e.g., BMPs, regulations) in 2000 revealed the
primary focus is to protect the quality of water adjacent to perennial and intermittent streams
and lakes. In only a few states do riparian guidelines address other riparian functions and
values beyond water quality protection (e.g., wildlife habitat). Riparian guidelines typically
contain three basic components: minimum riparian zone width, minimum residual trees for the
riparian zone, and other guidelines for modifying management practices within the riparian
zone. A commonly recommended riparian management zone is 50 feet wide with 50 - 75 percent
crown closure (or 50 - 75 ft2/acre of residual basal area), although the specific guidelines in
each state vary tremendously. While science cannot specify the management prescriptions
needed to protect all riparian functions across every site, understanding site-specific conditions
is critical to effective guideline implementation.
Research supported by the
University of Minnesota’s Department of Forest Resources, the University of Minnesota
Extension Service, the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station under Project MN 42-042,
and the Minnesota Forest Resources Council.
Blinn, Charles R.; Kilgore, Michael A..
Riparian management practices in the United States : a summary of state guidelines..
University of Minnesota.
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