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Case studies of riparian and watershed restoration in the southwestern United States—Principles, challenges, and successes

July 18, 2017

Globally, rivers and streams are highly altered by impoundments, diversions, and stream channelization associated with agricultural and water delivery needs. Climate change imposes additional challenges by further reducing discharge, introducing variability in seasonal precipitation patterns, and increasing temperatures. Collectively, these changes in a river or stream’s annual hydrology affects surface and groundwater dynamics, fluvial processes, and the linked aquatic and riparian responses, particularly in arid regions. Recognizing the inherent ecosystem services that riparian and aquatic habitats provide, society increasingly supports restoring the functionality of riparian and aquatic ecosystems.

Given the wide range in types and scales of riparian impacts, approaches to riparian restoration can range from tactical, short-term, and site-specific efforts to strategic projects and long-term collaborations best pursued at the watershed scale. In the spirit of sharing information, the U.S. Geological Survey’s Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center convened a workshop June 23-25, 2015, in Flagstaff, Ariz. for practitioners in restoration science to share general principles, successful restoration practices, and discuss the challenges that face those practicing riparian restoration in the southwestern United States. Presenters from the Colorado River and the Rio Grande basins, offered their perspectives and experiences in restoration at the local, reach and watershed scale. Outcomes of the workshop include this Proceedings volume, which is composed of extended abstracts of most of the presentations given at the workshop, and recommendations or information needs identified by participants. The organization of the Proceedings follows a general progression from local scale restoration to river and watershed scale approaches, and finishes with restoration assessments and monitoring.

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