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Jan 22

The Role of Riparian Enhancement

Posted on January 22, 2019 at 1:41 PM by Elissa Gavette

volunteers planting trees along a waterway

Every winter, volunteers show up in the cold and wet to plant native trees and shrubs along Eugene’s waterways. A minimum of 200 trees are planted along Amazon Creek or one of its tributaries annually and another 7,000 linear feet of Eugene’s waterway are planted with native trees and/or willows, either with volunteers or a contract crew. 

These native trees and shrubs play a very important role along our urban waterways. Once mature, trees and larger shrubs will shade the creek during the growing season and helping to maintain lower water temperatures. The root structure that results from riparian trees and shrubs holds soil in place and prevents erosion during winter high waters. Tree roots, shrub roots and above ground parts also play an important role in filtering out pollutants in stormwater run-off. 

While the stormwater benefits of trees and shrubs is vital, one benefit that Eugene’s human residents appreciate most is the healthy habitat that streamside vegetation provides to native species. Dense native vegetation provides food and cover for insects, song birds, raccoon and other small mammals. Cool, clean water is enjoyed by ducks and geese, beaver, mink, and even river otter. 

These planting efforts represent the combined planning and implementation efforts from Parks staff across a variety of teams, including: Eugene Outdoors, Ecological Services Team, and Natural Area Operations. While these plantings allow the City to meet certain regulatory obligations, the value that these planting provide to Eugene’s waterways and local residents is immeasurable.