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Riparian Ecosystem Creation and Restoration:
A Literature Summary


Goals and Objectives

The first step in most plans is to set goals and objectives to give the project direction and commitments, which regulating agencies can evaluate (Miller 1988). A general goal is to reverse (or mitigate) the damage that has or will occur to a wetland, and to answer regulatory concerns. Goals are usually broad and not site specific. Goals direct the project to restore and improve wetland functions, such as flood storage, sediment trapping, food chain support, community diversity, biological productivity, and fish and wildlife habitat. Objectives, on the other hand, are more site specific and direct the actions of the project (e.g., to revegetate disturbed areas with native trees and shrubs to provide wildlife food, cover, and nest sites; to provide an additional 1 acre-foot of storage capacity within the wetland to function as a storm water retention/detention basin).

The goal of a project may not be to reestablish the former riparian situation, if that situation is degraded, such as in an incised channel. The goal should be to establish a new equilibrium condition that supports a viable riparian zone (Van Haveren and Jackson 1986). The overriding consideration in planning a riparian ecosystem rehabilitation program may be to determine the rehabilitation potential of the target area and identify the root causes of the degraded condition. Causes must be resolved before an improvement project is initiated. Stream riparian zone rehabilitation should not circumvent the real causes of stream degradation. Natural recovery processes must be understood and incorporated in the rehabilitation. Objectives of the rehabilitation program should consider existing and future watershed condition, hydrologic regime, and the desired rate of recovery.

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