Remotely sensed land cover/land use information from satellite spectral data offers the greatest potential for monitoring riparian conditions consistently across the United States on a frequently recurring basis. Satellite data extending back to the early 1970s provide a 20- to 30-year record of changes in riparian resources. Future development of analytical techniques and refinement of classifications can be reapplied to historical satellite data in order to take advantage of future advancements in remote sensing. Increasing the availability of remotely sensed information on riparian conditions would allow citizens and management authorities to assess environmental status and track changes in this critical resource.
Although land-use changes have had and will continue to have the greatest effect on riparian areas in the near and medium term, global climate change is likely to exacerbate stressors on riparian areas rather than counteract them. Thus, land owners and managers should continue to strive for land uses that are consistent with protecting and restoring riparian areas in the absence of definitive information about how climate changes may be influencing those systems. This includes reducing stressors from localized human activities such as water withdrawals, flow regulation, continued land drainage, excessive sedimentation, nutrient loading, excessive grazing, and introduction and spread of exotic species.
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