Over the last decade, private landowners have joined with NRCS, USBR, USFWS, USFS, OWEB, and many other restoration partners to implement restoration actions that benefit both landowners and aquatic and riparian ecosystems. The goals has been to use the best available science to guide restoration actions and the adhere to priorities outlined by federal and state agencies. These priorities consist of improving fish passage and reducing entrainment, restoring natural stream processes, improving management of riparian areas, reducing nutrient enrichment from agricultural operations, reconnecting springs, and recreating lake-fringe wetlands.
The ecological benefits of watershed restoration are well documented. Communities benefit from restoration with improved water availability, water quality, and ecosystem function. Landowners benefit with more efficient irrigation systems, the capturing of surface water runoff that improves groundwater recharge, more abundant wildlife and improved efficiency of land management systems. Restoration projects employ consultants and contractors who purchase equipment and hire employees, providing a benefit to local economies.
Riparian zones in the Klamath Basin are important for their high productivity, diversity, as well as their ecological roles that are integral to the functioning of both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Riparian plantings reduce erosion potential, filter waterways, and moderate water flow which helps to prevent flooding. Improvement of natural conditions along rivers and streams can provide shade which cools the water, benefitting fish populations. Wetlands improve water quality by capturing nutrients and breaking down chemical contaminants.
Within the aquatic community, habitat is key. Rivers and streams that have lost natural riparian vegetation can benefit from restoration projects designed to improve habitat conditions instream. Logs strategically placed instream can provide habitat and food sources for aquatic organisms. Juvenile fish and fry need cover to grow and develop, adult fish need spawning areas, and instream restoration can create improved growing conditions for all life stages. Ultimately instream restoration can contribute to the terrestrial food web, with higher productivity of fish benefitting both man and beast.