Riparian Program I

Statewide Riparian and Stream Ecosystem Education Program I

The Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI) has partnered with the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB), Texas Riparian Association (TRA), Texas A&M Forest Service (TFS), Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Nueces River Authority (NRA), Texas A&M AgriLife Research – Ecosystem Science and Management Department (ESSM), and the Texas Tech University Llano River Field Station (TTU-LRFS) to conduct Riparian and Stream Ecosystem Education programs across the state.

Project Goals:

  • Facilitate the promotion of healthy watersheds and improve water quality through the delivery of riparian and stream ecosystem education programs with a focus on priority watersheds.
  • Increase citizen awareness, understanding, and knowledge about the nature and function of riparian zones, their benefits, and BMPs to protect them and minimize NPS pollution.
  • Enhance interactive learning opportunities for riparian education across the state and establish a larger, more well-informed citizen base working to improve and protect local riparian and stream ecosystems.
  • Connect landowners with local technical and financial resources to improve management and promote healthy watershed and riparian areas on their land.

Program Tasks:

  • Deliver a minimum of 25 riparian education programs to participants in prioritized watersheds, typically watersheds with watershed planning or total maximum daily load efforts due to impaired water quality.
  • Coordinate 3 Proper Functioning Condition (PFC) trainings to agency personnel and water professional
  • Coordinate 2 Statewide riparian conferences

Riparian degradation is a major threat to water quality, in-stream habitat, terrestrial wildlife, aquatic species, and overall stream health. Conversely, proper management, protection, and restoration of riparian areas decrease bacteria, nutrient, and sediment loadings to waterbodies; lower in-stream temperatures; improve dissolved oxygen levels; improve aquatic habitat; and ultimately improves macrobenthos and fish community integrity. Elevated bacteria, low dissolved oxygen, and degraded habitat and aquatic communities account for 70% of the impairments (436 of the 621) on the 2010 Texas Integrated Report.

To improve the management of these sensitive and vital ecosystems, riparian education programs are needed regarding the nature and function of riparian zones, their benefits, and BMPs for protecting them. This will not only reduce NPS pollution, it will provide tremendous ecosystem service benefits and direct economic benefits to the community.

Funding  provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board.