Riparian areas are transitional zones between terrestrial and aquatic systems that exhibit characteristics of both systems. They are typically vegetated with lush growths of grasses, forbs, shrubs, and trees that are tolerant of periodic flooding and have sediments that are rich in nutrients and organic matter. Riparian systems look and function differently across the state but possess some common ecological and hydrological characteristics such as fish and wildlife habitat, water storage, flood control, nutrient cycling, water quality protection, and recreational and economic benefits.
The California Riparian Habitat Conservation Program (CRHCP) was created within the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) by legislation in 1991. The Program's basic mission is to develop coordinated conservation efforts aimed at protecting and restoring California's riparian ecosystems. CRHCP is generally funded through the State's Habitat Conservation Fund.
The goal of the CRHCP is to protect, preserve, and restore riparian habitats throughout California. Typical riparian projects include, but are not limited to:
- Restoration of riparian vegetation and re-establishing floodplain connectivity.
- Active or passive restoration that may include an element of invasive plant removal and control.
- Installation of fencing along the riparian corridor to manage livestock or wildlife and reduce impacts to streams or riparian vegetation.
- Reconfigure degraded, incised, or undefined streams to restore natural hydrology and encourage reestablishment of native riparian habitat.