What is a Riparian Zone?

Riparian areas are lands that occur along water bodies. Typical examples include flood plains and streambanks.

 Why are they Important?

They are an extremely important component of healthy watersheds and ecological function.

Riparian areas provide critical habitat for wildlife, act as buffers between upland areas and open water, help filter pollutants, reduce stream bank erosion and maintain stable stream channel geomorphology, and regulate stream temperature through shade.

The Council contributes to riparian restoration through invasive species removal and riparian planting of native plant species.


Habitat complexity projects often include the installation of large woody debris (LWD), which refers to the fallen trees, logs and stumps, root wads, and piles of branches along the edges of streams, rivers and lakes.

Why is large woody debris important?

  • Provides vital habitat and refuge for juvenile and adult salmon and fish
  • Stabilizes shorelines and reduce erosion
  • Provides food sources and habitat for aquatic insects and wildlife along shorelines


Fish passage barriers can be any feature that prevents the movement of aquatic species up or down a stream. These barriers include waterfalls, cascades, dikes/levees, ditches, culverts, weirs, flood/tide gates, dams, and other human made structures.

Why remove or improve them?

These structures can impede fish passage, stream function and miles of habitat for aquatic species throughout the watershed. Removal of barriers can open miles of spawning habitat, restore streams to a more natural state, and mitigate flood risks.

Butte Creek NCLC Bridge

Completed: 2022

Contactor: Jones Excavating

Partners & Funders: Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, North Coast Land Conservancy, Private Landowners, NNSLWC

Butte Creek is a small sub-basin that drains the hills east of Neskowin, immediately north of Cascade Head in Tillamook County. The original wooden bridge was deteriorating and being undercut and fish passage impaired by high flows. It was replaced with a 40 foot railcar bridge. This project improves fish access to 1.5 miles of spawning and rearing habitat.

Alder Creek Project 

Completed: 2022

Contractor: Coastway Construction 

Partners & Funders: Natural Resources Conservation Service, US Forest Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, Private Landowner, Salmon SuperHwy, NNSLWC

Alder Creek is an important tributary of Three Rivers, a major tributary of the Nestucca River. The original culverts were near complete barriers for Coho, Chinook, Steelhead, and Lamprey. It was replaced with a 25.5 foot multi-plate aluminum box culvert. This project improves fish access to more than 1 miles of spawning and rearing habitat (and more with future upstream project at Hwy 22).