Fact Sheet No. 18:
Stream Channel and Riparian Area Monitoring for Ranchers (1)
It is important for landowners to monitor the stream channel and adjacent riparian area to assess whether their streamside land uses are affecting water quality. The two monitoring forms in this fact sheet were acquired from Montana and Wyoming and may be useful on your ranch. In addition you should always take photos of the stream channel and riparian area at the same time and location each year.
After collecting several years of data, you should be able to determine if the stream channel and riparian area are on an upward, stable, or downward trend. If you observe a widening channel, channel downcutting, more than 10% eroding banks, increasing frequency of new streambars, noxious weeds or unvegetated streambanks, encroaching upland shrub species, lack of shrub and tree regeneration, and/or hedged shrubs, you may need to review grazing and other ranch management practices.
Consistency is the key to obtaining useful information; it is extremely important that the same person collects the information at the same location and at the same time each year. Monitoring should be done immediately after livestock grazing in the streamside area. If you rest the pasture, collect the information at about the same time of year as you did the previous year. If the pasture is very large or if stream characteristics vary considerably, try to sample two or more stream lengths, If possible, compare your finding with an ungrazed part of the same stream.
These forms are not intended to replace monitoring forms used by state and federal agencies on grazing allotments. It is suggested that you coordinate your monitoring efforts on grazing allotment with the permitting agency.
1Montana Riparian Association Education Committee (8/18/92)
Stream Channel and Riparian Area Monitoring
Stream name ____________________________________
Sampling site location (select a 1000' length of stream to monitor)
Permanent photo points (describe locations)
(1) Channel cross-section ______________________
(2) Channel and riparian area overview (take from high point)
Current year weather conditions:
I. Stream Channel Characteristics (complete every 3 years)
II. Riparian Vegetation Information
III. Utilization Information
B. Predominant Bank Condition
C. Streambed Material
D. Bank Vegetation Amount
E. Degree of Eroding Banks
Does the stream run year-round?
|F. Primary Floodplain Plants
H. Width of Floodplain
I. Water Width in September
J. Source of Water
|Diagram below may help in assessing stream in question.
2Robert Rudd, Wyoming Stockgrowers Association, Casper, Wy