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Riparian Rehabilitation

Crew treating noxious weeds

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Riparian areas are the interface between water and land

Riparian areas are crucial ecosystems that create habitat, filter water, and support healthy streams. Over time, and because of development, noxious weeds (also known as invasive species or nonnative species) have been introduced into these ecosystems where they did not evolve. To restore the native plant community, various restoration actions help invasive species management in the riparian areas of Rogue River watersheds. 

Treating noxious weeds and successfully restoring natural ecosystems is a long-term commitment. Therefore, most of our projects follow a 5-year timescale with the majority of in-stream restoration and riparian rehabilitation occurring in the first 1-2 years, followed by 3-4 years of continued stewardship and project maintenance. During this stewardship phase, we continue treating the noxious weeds to help provide the best chance of recovery for the native plant community. 

Native plants stabilize streambanks and help prevent unnatural erosion by slowing down floodwaters. 

Native trees, shrubs, and flowers are a crucial food source for diverse animal species including birds, mammals, and insects. 

Native trees, shrubs, and flowers are a crucial food source for diverse animal species including birds, mammals, and insects. 

Wildlife-friendly fences


Riparian Health

Wildlife-friendly fences significantly limit livestock access to the riparian forest and creek. When livestock have unimpeded access to graze the native riparian plant community, trample the banks of the creek, and stand, drink, and lay in the water, water quality is impaired. The results can lead to increased sedimentation from erosion, increased water temperature from solar exposure, and nutrient loading from excrement. Continuous grazing of the native plant community impedes natural succession and growth, allowing for noxious weeds to further exacerbate the degraded riparian forest. The other passive restoration strategy we use is expressed through encouraging the natural recruitment and growth of the existing native community and seed bank. We do use this passive restoration in combination with active restoration through the removal of noxious weeds to assist in recovering the diverse native riparian forest.

Aerial view of cattle exclosure





water quality


of riparian plant


Livestock access through gated fence

"Release & Recruit"

RRWC is pioneering a riparian rehabilitation strategy called “Release & Recruit” to treat noxious weeds in streamside areas. This approach involves controlling weeds with chemical and mechanical methods (Release) while preserving the existing native plant community. Once the competition between noxious weeds and native plants for light and nutrients is minimized, those native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers can thrive again (Recruit).

Step 1: Release

Noxious weeds, like Armenian (Himalayan) blackberry, poison hemlock, etc., overgrow and out-compete the native plant species in the riparian forest, depriving them of nutrients, water, and light. In the Release stage, noxious weeds are strategically treated both chemically (with herbicides) and mechanically (with chainsaws, loppers, ring trimmers, and machines). These actions occur over the course of five to ten years and release the native plant community from suppression by the noxious weeds.

Crew flay-mowing noxious weeds

Rehabilitation contractors mechanically treat noxious weeds.

Step 2: Recruit

Buried in the riparian forest soil is a seed bank of diverse native plant species. A seed bank is exactly as it sounds; a collection of seeds that have been naturally saved over time in the soil. The focus of our riparian rehabilitation is to employ noxious weed treatments, while preserving the existing and sprouting plant community, allowing for that community to naturally recruit diverse species back in locations where they will survive best.

Mock orange growing from dead blackberries

Unplanted/naturall-recruited native Lewis' mock orange (Philadelphus lewisii) grows among the dead Himalayan blackberry canes that were treated. 

"The most important benefit of this strategy is the forest community itself dictates where species grow and survive the best, in turn, building in more resiliency into the forest. The seed source is adapted to the localized place, and the plant densities are appropriate and often higher than could be planted."

Lance Wyss, RRWC Restoration Biologist

"Release & Recruit" in Action


Native plants love growing on RRWC restoration projects

Camas (Camassia quamash ssp)

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