Riparian Restoration in the Southwest – Species Selection, Propagation, Planting Methods, and Case Studies

Dreesen, D., J. Harrington, T. Subirge, P. Stewart and G. Fenchel

Publication Date:

Riparian plant communities, though small in overall area, are among the most valuable natural areas in the Southwest. The causes of degradation of southwestern riparian zones range from excessive cattle and elk grazing in montane watersheds to invasive woody exotic species and lack of natural flooding in the cottonwood forests, “bosque”, of low elevation river valleys. Goals of riparian restoration include erosion control, channel stabilization, runoff reduction, and enhancement of wildlife and fishery habitat. Plant species and stock types selected for restoration efforts must be appropriate for the site characteristics. Relevant site characteristics include elevation, soil texture and chemistry, and depth to water table. Vegetative propagation methodologies including pole cutting production, mound layering, and large containerized stock have been developed to provide cost effective plant production of riparian species. Plant materials and planting methods range from dormant pole cuttings placed vertically or horizontally to unusual container stock types such as 30 inch tall pots. Case studies are presented on the restoration of the cottonwood forests along the middle Rio Grande and Gila River and of montane riparian areas in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests.

Resource Type:
Technical Document

Natural Resource Conservation Service