Riparian Management

 Knowledge Nuggets | Fact Sheets | Research Papers

.Knowledge Nuggets

  • Riparian areas are extremely productive parts of a grazing program. However, because riparian areas are also important areas for protecting water quality, they are very sensitive to uncontrolled grazing. With proper grazing management cattle, grass and streams can coexist in a long-term sustainable ecosystem.
  • A riparian grazing plan must meet the needs of each specific riparian area, be compatible with the entire ranch operation and have the commitment of the operator/manager to achieve riparian objectives.
  • Healthy riparian areas trap sediment, build and maintain streambanks, store flood water and energy, recharge the aquifer, filter and buffer water, reduce and dissipate stream energy, maintain biodiversity and create primary productivity.
  • Vegetation plays a critical and complex role in filtering and slowing runoff, capturing sediments during flooding and building the capacity for storing and releasing groundwater and maintaining streamflow.
  • Unhealthy riparian areas contain weeds, low forage production, damaged shrub growth, down cutting and erosion of the channel, slumping banks, soil exposure, low water table and decreased storage capacity with few fish or wildlife present.
  • Early and mid-summer use can be detrimental to riparian areas unless grazing is limited in duration and frequency so that plants can recover.
  • Grazing can work well when grazing duration is managed to minimize browsing, rubbing and trampling of shrubs and small trees.
  • Fall and winter grazing can work when forage is sufficient for grazing through the snow, when enough residue is left to slow the water flow from next spring's runoff, when supplemental feeding sites are far enough away from the riparian area and cattle are discouraged from resting there.
  • The easiest riparian zone to deal with is one that is large enough to be fenced and used as a separate paddock where control of livestock entry and exit is possible.
  • Rest from livestock grazing is needed to reestablish a healthy stand of shrubs in degraded riparian areas. Shrubs grow rapidly when riparian areas are protected.
  • In cases of uncontrolled access, cattle will concentrate in a riparian area because of water, salt, hot weather and shade, better forage or animal habits.
  • Healthy riparian areas can be a safety net during drought where riparian areas are often the only green place remaining.

Conservation Easements - available in PDF format only

Field Guide: Identification of Common Riparian Plants of Saskatchewan - available in PDF format only

Grazing Streamside Pastures

Health of Riparian Areas in Southern Saskatchewan - available in PDF format only

Lowland Forages: Recycling Plant Nutrients - available in PDF format only

Managing Saskatchewan Wetlands - Landowner's Guide - available in PDF format

Management of Ponds, Wetlands, and Other Water Reservoirs to Minimize Mosquitoes - available in PDF format only

Natural Values: Linking the Environment to the Economy

Salt Cedar - Have you seen this shrub? - available in PDF format only

Saskatchewan Water Security Agency

Streambank Stewardship Factsheet - available in PDF format only

Training Livestock to Leave Streams and Use Uplands - available in PDF format only

Wetlands and Agriculture Should Coexist - available in PDF format only

Research Papers

Can Cows and Fish Coexist?

Livestock Grazing and Riparian Areas: A Literature Review

Source tracking fecal bacteria in water: a critical review of current methods

Quality of deferred forage from waterfowl nesting sites on the Canadian prairies
  For more information about the content of this document, contact Grant Lastiwka.
This document is maintained by Linda Hunt.
This information published to the web on October 30, 2003.
Last Reviewed/Revised on April 26, 2017.

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