The following Questionnaire will assist you in determining what types of stewardship and recovery strategies relating to vegetation are the most applicable for your property.
Plant communities and the vegetation within them play many important roles along the stream and within your property. Not only can plants provide shade and pleasant scenery for you, but they can also provide wildlife habitat and food, streambank stabilization, boundaries for wildlife or properties and many other ecological benefits. On the other hand, some plants can be undesirable and even invasive. In this section, you will learn what you can look for on your property, as well as what types of stewardship and recovery strategies you can consider.
Along riparian corridors, vegetation can generally be grouped into three overall categories: wetland, riparian and upland vegetation. These categories transition from right along the stream/water (wetlands), to areas a little higher up and along the streambanks (riparian), to areas above the streambanks and further away from the active stream channel (uplands). Although you will find overlap between these areas, you should be able to recognize where the vegetation changes based on its distance from the stream. In this case, distance means both horizontal distance from the edge of the stream, as well as vertical distance from the surface of the stream.
All of these unique plant communities provide homes for a wide variety of animals. Providing a diversity of habitats on your land supports an intertwined collection of insects, reptiles, birds and mammals. For example, eagles and other raptors use large cottonwoods and other trees for nesting and as perching platforms to rest and survey for prey. Even dead trees are used by these birds because the lack of leaves allows for a clear view of the surrounding countryside. Songbirds nest in a wide variety of large to small trees and feed on chokecherries and other berry producing shrubs. Bears will also eat the berries in the fall when they are fattening up for winter hibernation. Deer and elk browse on shrubs such as mountain mahogany. Willow shrubs hanging over streams provide shade and shelter for fish and beavers. Wildflower strewn grassy meadows provide food and shelter for everything from bees to hummingbirds to rabbits. When assessing the vegetation on your property, it is important to consider the wildlife that calls it home. More specific details about wildlife habitat are discussed in the ‘NonAquatic Species’ Questionnaire section.