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Riparian Areas: Functions and Strategies for Management
political systems, but will require coordination of management policies and prescriptions.
States should administer the public trusts in water and state-owned submerged lands to protect the public interests in properly functioning and ecologically healthy riparian areas. States are obligated to protect public interests in recreation, fisheries, water yield, and other values and services of state waters, a responsibility that cannot be carried out without regard to riparian functioning. Each state has the authority to decide how it will administer these trusts, subject to judicial review according to standards established by the respective state and by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Instream flow laws can help protect riparian areas if river and stream flows are managed to mimic the natural hydrograph. Water allocation has historically favored human claims to water over using it for environmental needs. Recently, the needs of natural systems have been addressed in some cases by preserving minimum stream flows. Because riparian functioning is dependent on the full range of variation in the hydrologic regime, the reintroduction or maintenance of such flow regimes (in addition to minimum stream flow) is essential for restoring and sustaining healthy riparian systems.
Implementation of the CREP and TMDL programs has the potential to protect existing and restore degraded riparian areas nationwide. State involvement in CREP is increasing exponentially, with the potential for taking millions of miles of riparian land out of agricultural production. Many TMDL plans developed to date call for the restoration of riparian areas to reduce nonpoint source pollutant loadings and to restore streamside shading.
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