ESG's Riparian and Wetland Data Site

Riparian and wetland areas occupy a unique position in the landscape and life of the West. Their importance far exceeds that implied by their relatively small area. Riparian and wetland areas are the green zones bordering lakes, reservoirs, estuaries, potholes, springs and seeps, peatlands, wet meadows, vernal pools, and ephemeral, intermittent, or perennial streams. The riparian zone is the interface or linkage between the upland (terrestrial) zone and the deep water (aquatic) zone. Riparian and wetland ecosystems are important islands of diversity within extensive upland ecosystems and provide an important functional linkage between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. They are of prime importance to water quality, water quantity, stream stability, and fisheries habitat. Abundant water, forage, and habitat attract a proportionately greater amount of use and conflict than their small area would indicate. They are vital to the livestock grazing industry, mining, and many are also well suited for development as high quality agricultural farmland. In addition, many riparian and wetland areas are excellent timber producing sites. Most wetland sites provide critical habitat needs for many species and they support a greater concentration of wildlife species, recreation, and other activities than any other type of location on the landscape.

In contrast to their importance, the structure, function, and management of riparian and wetland plant communities have been studied less and are consequently not as well understood as other areas. They have often been overlooked, ignored, or considered a minor part of the larger terrestrial or aquatic systems. Grazing, timber harvesting, road construction, railroads and other transportation corridors, mining, and agriculture may drastically affect these communities. Consequently, management of riparian and wetland areas has become—and will continue to be—a major issue. Multi-resource opportunities, multi-disciplinary concerns, and multi-ownership patterns call for a high level of coordination and cooperation to meet social needs.

Educational Photos and Diagrams

How to Search our Databases
Follow this link for instructions on using our online databases

Plant Species List for our United States Work

Lotic (e.g., streams, rivers), Lentic (e.g., lakes, ponds, potholes) and Upland PFC, Health Assessment, and Inventory Forms and User Manuals

Lolo, Montana Middle School Science Project Bureau of Land Management Database for Montana, eastern and northern Idaho, and portions of western North Dakota and South Dakota
Whirling Disease Research Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, Montana Database

Databases | FAQs | Other Links

To register any questions or comments you might have about the database: