What are the Riparian Restoration Stewardship team and the ELP?
The Riparian Restoration Stewardship team is a group of students who participated in the Environmental Leadership Program (ELP) at the University of Oregon. Since 2004, the Riparian Restoration teams have monitored native restoration sites for two community partners in the Willamette Valley: the McKenzie River Watershed Council/Mohawk Watershed Partnership (MWC/MWP) and the Middle Fork Willamette Watershed Council (MFWWC). Monitoring is essential to both watershed councils in determining whether restoration efforts have been implemented properly and how effective the projects are in accomplishing watershed council goals. Results from the monitoring efforts by ELP students give insights for future restoration projects including appropriate treatments for particular areas.What is "riparian," "restoration" and "stewardship"?
The ELP and community partner relationship provides University of Oregon students with an opportunity to have hands-on experience with monitoring of restoration ecology while working in a professional environment. In spring 2010 multiple riparian sites were monitored along the Mohawk River and the Middle Fork of the Willamette River. Data pertaining to the ecological success of these restoration sites have been collected over a 10-week period and analyzed. A scientific report has been created for each watershed council which includes data results as well as site or technique specific recommendations.
A riparian zone is habitat that is dominated by the interaction between water and the surrounding land.
Restoration is the attempt to return a particular site or ecosystem back to a previous condition of fitness, where native species evolved together, creating sophisticated and diverse environments. As people moved around the planet and entered different regions, their land-use paradigms and homeland species were brought with them. The introduction of “new” species, referred to now as “invasive” species, has proved to be disastrous to once diversely robust environments, such as the riparian zones throughout the Willamette Valley. Restoration efforts are applied in hopes to re-invigorate these compromised ecosystems and nurture their recovery toward pre-European status.
Stewardship, in this context, is the caretaking of the environment. Proper caretaking is adaptive, perceptive and sensitive toward each distinctive situation and place. Stewardship is not static, but rather an active partnership with one’s surroundings.