The number of fuels reduction and thinning projects that include riparian area environments is increasing across the Western United States, bringing new challenges to riparian area management. Many of these project treatments are needed to maintain riparian biodiversity and restore valued functions of riparian area environments, while protecting them from catastrophic wildfire, disease and insects. Restoration is needed largely in response to legacy effects such as fire suppression, land use and other human disturbance.
Riparian areas are protected by administrative regulations, such as the Clean Water Act, but others which are largely custodial and restrict active management. In this presentation, we discussed how the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests have been working with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to get conditional approval letters for riparian area treatments that may reduce shade. Generally, the anti-degradation clause of the Clean Water Act does not allow for short term effects greater than 6 months. However, these conditional approval letters have recognized there may be short term effects (longer than 6 months) for long term net ecological benefits..