“I want to be able to see my stream (or river) from my house” is a phrase the habitat specialists here at the Conservation District hear a lot. As humans, we feel a connection with nature and a sense of peace at being able to view it (over a cup of coffee from our kitchen table). Unfortunately for the stream and the wildlife that depend on it, clearing the vegetation alongside your stream is detrimental to the stream’s health. Being good stewards of our land means caring for it in ways that allow it to remain healthy so both you and future generations can enjoy it. This may mean viewing it from a bench in the forest alongside the stream instead of from your kitchen table.
Trees and shrubs along your stream provide the following benefits:
- Trees shade the stream and keep the water cold during the summer so juvenile fish can survive.
- Vegetation soaks up pollutants that come from neighboring yards and roads, keeping it out of the water.
- Roots of trees hold the soil in place and slows streambank erosion.
- Trees eventually die and fall into the stream where they provide important habitat for wildlife, slow the flow of water, and protect against bank erosion.
- Vegetation soaks up excess water running off the surface of the land, to reduce flooding downstream.
- Vegetation creates healthy soils, which hold more water and allow it to infiltrate into the groundwater instead of contributing to flooding.
What can you do to improve the health of your stream?
The answer is simple. Care for the existing vegetation and plant more. The Conservation District has resources that can help you acquire and plant vegetation so please contact a habitat specialist if you are interested. Our annual Plant Sale is a great source of inexpensive native plants.