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Why Restore?

 
Invasive plants degrade rivers and collectively reduce the ecologic, economic, and social values that rivers provide. 
 
Often referred to as “ribbons of life” to emphasize their great importance in sustaining life for those that call it home, riparian environments support biodiversity, help to conserve the soil and have a tremendous impact on wildlife.
 
Roughly 1% of land in the United States is considered riparian, yet 80% of all wildlife species depend on this habitat for food and shelter at some point in their lifetime. To that end, it is critically important that these riparian areas are healthy and contain the native plant species that wildlife needs to survive. 
 
Invasive Plant Impacts
Today, many western riverside lands are increasingly threatened by invasive, non-native trees and shrubs. Invasive, non-native plants, often referred to as noxious weeds, are plants that are not native and are able to establish on many sites, grow quickly, and spread to the point of disrupting native plant communities or ecosystems. 
 
A few examples of non-native, invasive riparian plants include tamarisk (also referred to as saltcedar), Russian olive, tree of heaven, and Siberian elm. Many of these areas are also co-dominated by invasive grasses and forbs, including, cheatgrass, giant reed, Russian knapweed, hoary cress (whitetop) and kochia.  
 
The dense growth patterns of invasive plants
  • crowd out native plant species along rivers and streams - reducing plant and wildlife diversity,
  • block river access for recreation and agriculture,
  • create hazards for river runners,
  • invade popular campsites,
  • channelize waterways, and; 
  • increase the frequency and severity of wildfires.
Along with displacing native vegetation, the water usage by these plants can also be substantial; most notably in areas where these species displace less thirsty plants, such as sagebrush and rabbitbrush.
 
While invasive plants may never be completely eradicated from riparian areas, RiversEdge West works to keep them at a manageable level so native plants can thrive. 
 

Before - with invasive plants

After - restored with native plants

Pictured above:
In 2008, invasive Russian olive (trees on left bank), outcompeted native plants and dominated the riparian corridor along the Escalante River in Utah. 
Pictured above:
The same canyon in 2010 after invasive Russian olive had been removed. The diverse array of native plants shown here re-established on their own after the Russian olive was removed and now provides critical habitat and forage for wildlife. 
Photos by Bill Wolverton
 
RiversEdge West works with partners to restore riparian areas by: 
  • Planning and fundraising for riparian restoration - this includes securing long-term funding for restoration projects and developing well-rounded restoration and monitoring goals, 
  • Strategically removing invasive plants and replanting these areas with native species,
  • Building and supporting restoration partnerships, 
  • Promoting the research of native plant restoration and novel approaches for adapting to climate change,
  • Evaluating project success, 
  • Finding and sharing resources to improve riparian restoration work with the land managers and landowners working on-the-ground,
  • Hosting educational conferences and workshops that connect land managers and landowners with the latest knowledge, science, and lessons learned in the riparian restoration field, 
  • Inspiring communities to be stewards of the land and water through community outreach events and classroom education
In doing so, we play an integral role in improving fish and wildlife habitat and enhancing the agricultural, economic, cultural, and recreational opportunities for the communities in which we work.
 
 
Your support will help restore riverside lands
We invite you to support the restoration of these riverside areas for the betterment of our local economies, recreational opportunities, and our natural heritage for future generations.  
 
Become a member, make a donation, or learn about other ways to give. 
 
Benefits include discounted registration to our annual conference, Raft the River, training and workshops, and other special RiversEdge West events, as well as recognition on our website and in our annual report.
    
 

RiversEdge West's

mission is to advance the restoration of riparian lands through collaboration, education, and technical assistance.

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