Ecology and Conservation of Coastal California's Riparian Areas


Thursday, May 12, 2005
8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Moss Landing Marine Laboratories
Moss Landing
Lunch will be provided



Instructor Information

Mr. Tom Gardali
Director of the Pacific Coast and Central Valley Group
Point Blue Conservation Science

Serge Glushkoff
Environmental Scientist, Central Coast Region
Department of Fish & Game

Ms. Donna Meyers
Conservation Collaborative

Kristen Schroeder
Fisheries Resource Planner
Santa Cruz County Planning Dept.


Grey Hayes
(831) 274-8700



See also: Riparian Conservation and Ecology, Habitat Restoration

The conservation and thoughtful management of the riparian areas that line our rivers and streams is an important area of concern for many citizens and agencies in the central coast. Riparian areas have long been recognized as important habitat for birds, fish, amphibians, and many other species. Due to development, increased water use, introductions of invasive species, and other factors, the historic extent of this habitat type in California has been greatly reduced over the past 100 years. Therefore, on May 12, 2005 over 90 researchers, regulators, consultants, land managers, and others interested in the ecology and conservation of coastal California�s riparian areas met at Moss Landing Marine Labs for a workshop put on by the Coastal Training Program. This workshop served as a unique forum for a diverse group of people and agencies to come together and share information and experiences with one another. The goal of the workshop was to promote a better understanding of the ecology, conservation, and regulation of riparian areas to help guide planning and management decisions. This was the first in a series of workshops focused on riparian systems. Grey Hayes from the Elkhorn Slough Coastal Training Program (CTP) opened the workshop with a brief introduction of CTP and the services it provides to local decision makers to help them make better decisions in the conservation and management of the natural resources of the central coast. He then gave a short explanation of the importance of riparian areas for flood protection, habitat for wildlife, our economy and quality of life. Donna Meyers from the National Marine Sanctuaries Program (NOAA) was the first presenter of the day and she gave a presentation on the importance of riparian areas in maintaining healthy watersheds. Her presentation began with an introduction to the many different definitions of riparian habitat and how the definition that is used can affect management and regulatory decisions. One of the main points of Donna's presentation was the importance of recognizing that there is a fundamental interrelationship between the river system and the riparian system and both systems need to be addressed concurrently for management to be effective. Donna also introduced some of the current challenges facing riparian areas such as habitat loss, stream canalization, and agricultural run-off. Kristen Schroeder from the Santa Cruz County Planning Department followed with a presentation titled "Connecting Salmonid and Riparian Habitats". She began with an overview of Coho salmon and steelhead life history and distribution, during which she discussed their anadromous life history, spawning practices, and migration times. The presentation gave a clear demonstration for the importance of diverse habitat types for different life history stages of these fish. This made it easy to understand why a structurally diverse riparian habitat can increase the survivorship of these species. Kristen also explained the negative impacts that can result from development in the riparian zone including removal of vegetation, bank erosion, water quality impacts, and stream diversion, to name a few. One alteration to stream and riparian habitat that received particular attention was stream crossings. She concluded with a short discussion of the regulations that relate to riparian habitat in Santa Cruz county and the strengths and weaknesses of these policies. After the break, where workshop participants were able to visit with each other to build connections and develop new contacts that will hopefully lead to a continued sharing of information and discussion, Tom Gardali from PRBO Conservation Science gave a presentation on the conservation biology of riparian-associated songbirds along California's central coast. He began with a description of who PRBO Conservation Science are, what they do, and some of the resources and information they provide on their website. One of the activities that has recently been completed by PRBO is the production of a riparian bird conservation plan. This plan documents the current status of several migratory songbirds and measures that can be taken to ensure their conservation. Tom described a number of the sampling methods used to collect bird data for the plan and detailed the types of results you can obtain from the different data collection methods. He focused on mist netting, nest monitoring, point count surveys, and radio telemetry. Tom then presented results on bird habitat use from a research project he had worked on and explained how bird monitoring can be used to evaluate restoration success. Serge Glushkoff from California Department of Fish and Game concluded with a presentation titled "Riparian resources and regulators: the DFG lake and streambed alteration "1600" process". He began with a description of the legal authority and jurisdictions of the main federal, state, and county agencies. This was followed by a more detailed description of the DFG regulations that apply to the protection of waterways, ponds, lakes, and riparian areas; specifically DFG codes 1600-1616, commonly referred to as the 1600 process. The 1600 reviews assess projects that cause an alteration of a stream bed or bank, water quantity or flow characteristics, water quality, effects on aquatic resources, riparian vegetation, and terrestrial species, and impacts to special status species. After lunch there was a roundtable discussion where workshop participants could ask the presenters any follow-up questions and discuss specific topics from the presentations in more detail. The general theme of the discussion revolved around "How do we design better riparian buffers and how appropriate is the concept of the linear buffer". One of the main outcomes of the discussion was that there are alternatives to current approaches to riparian habitat management that should be implemented more effectively and there are opportunities for more creative approaches to designing and managing stream buffers. Also, any approach to stream or riparian management that doesn't take both systems into consideration will not be successful. In summary, participants left this workshop with a better understanding of the ecological function of riparian habitats and how management decisions can affect the conservation of this habitat. They also gained a better understanding of the biology and conservation concerns for some of the important fish and bird species that depend on riparian areas for habitat. Participants also walked away with a better understanding of the regulations that apply to riparian areas and places to look for more information. Workshop participants left with a better idea of who is working on these issues on the central coast and where to go for information and potential collaboration on their own projects. This and past workshops have received very positive feedback and we encourage you to stay involved with learning about conservation on the central coast through the Coastal Training Program.

Documents and Publications

Agenda: Ecology and Conservation of Coastal California's Riparian Areas
PDF, 117KB

Contact List: Ecology and Conservation of Coastal California's Riparian Areas

Presentation: Connecting Salmonid and Riparian Habitats.
PDF, 653KB
K Schroeder

Presentation: Conservation biology of riparian-associated songbirds along California's central coast.
PDF, 771KB
T. Gardali

Presentation: Riparian Areas: Definition and Context
PDF, 261KB
D. Meyers

Presentation: Riparian Resources and Regulators: the DFG Lake and Streambed Alteration Process.
PDF, 472KB
S. Glushkoff

An ecological perspective of riparian and stream restoration in the western United States.
PDF, 1.1MB
J. Boone Kauffman, Robert L. Beschta, Nick Otting, and Dana Lytjen
Fisheries 22(5):12-24
Applicability of landscape and island biogeography theory to restoration of riparian understory plants.
PDF, 279KB
Karen D. Holl and Elizabeth E. Crone
Journal of Applied Ecology 41:922-933
Avian responses to restoration: nest-site selection and reproductive success in song sparrows.
PDF, 232KB
Brenda Larison, Stephen A. Laymon, Pamela L. Williams, and Thomas B. Smith
The Auk 118(2):432-442
Biological criteria for buffer zones around wetlands and riparian habitats for amphibians and reptiles.
PDF, 277KB
Raymond D. Semlitsch and J. Russell Bodie
Conservation Biology 17(5):1219-1228
Breeding bird response to riparian buffer width in managed Pacific Northwest Douglas-fir forests.
PDF, 139KB
Scott F. Pearson and David A. Manuwal
Ecological Applications 11(3):840-853
Conservation of riparian ecosystems in the United States.
PDF, 826KB
Fritz L. Knopf, R. Roy Johnson, Terrell Rich, Fred B. Samson, and Robert C. Szaro
Wilson Bulletin 100(2):272-284
Defining reference conditions for restoration of riparian plant communities: examples from California, USA.
PDF, 266KB
Richard R. Harris
Environmental Management 24(1):55-63
Development of a bird integrity index: using bird assemblages as indicators of riparian condtion.
PDF, 224KB
Sandra A. Bryce, Robert M. Hughes, and Philip R. Kaufmann
Envrionmental Management 30(2):294-310
Development, maintenance and role of riparian vegetation in the river landscape.
PDF, 545KB
Eric Tabacchi, David L. Correll, Richard Hauer, Gilles Pinay, Anne-Marie Planty-Tabacchi, and Robert C. Wissmar
Freshwater Biology 40:497-516
Importance of spatial scale to habitat use by breeding birds in riparian forests: a hierarchical analysis.
PDF, 306KB
Victoria Saab
Ecological Applications 9(1):135-151
Lessons learned from river restoration projects in California.
PDF, 288KB
G. Mathias Kondolf
Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 8:39-52
Long-term declines and decadal patterns in population trends of songbirds in western North America, 1979-1999.
PDF, 450KB
Grant Ballard, Geoffrey R. Geupel, Nadav Nur and Thomas Gardali
The Condor 105:737-755
Songbird monitoring in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area: a multifaceted tool for guiding the restaration of redwood creek.
PDF, 5.5MB
Thomas Gardali, Carolyn Shoulders, Daphne Hatch, Aaron L. Holmes, Sandra E. Scoggin and Geoffrey E. Geupel
Park Science 21(1):28-32
Stream amphibians as indicators of ecosystem stress: a case study from California's redwoods.
PDF, 127KB
Hartwell H. Welsh, Jr. and Lisa M. Ollivier
Ecological Applications 8(4):1118-1132
Terrestrial activity and conservation of adult California red-legged frogs Rana aurora draytonii in coastal forests and grasslands.
PDF, 349KB
John B. Bulger, Norman J Scott, Jr. and Richard B. Seymour
Biological Conservation 110:85-95
Bibliography: Ecology and Conservation of Coastal California's Riparian Areas
Coastal Training Program
Elkhorn Slough Coastal Training Program
Elkhorn Slough wetland/riparian restoration project 2003-2004 summary report. PRBO Contribution # 1112
PDF, 196KB
Kim Kreitinger and Kirsten Lindquist
PRBO Conservation Science
Investing in Watersheds Brochure
PDF, 679KB
California Department of Water Resources
Department of Water Resources, Resources Restoration Branch
Monterey County General Plan
PDF, 1.4MB
Monterey County
Monterey County Board of Supervisors


CalPIF website including Riparian Bird Conservation Plan

County of Santa Cruz Planning Department: Riparian Corridors

Department of Water Resources: urban Streams Program- Pre-application Questionaire

Monterey County Zoning Ordinance - Title 21

Questions and Answers

Submit a question on this subject and we'll provide an answer. info@elkhornsloughctp.org