Rivers & Streams

Riparian habitats constitute less than 2% of the land area in the American Southwest, but support the highest density and abundance of plants and animals of any habitat type, making streams and associated riparian areas critical to the ecological integrity of the region. Riparian areas supply food, cover, and water, and serve as migration routes and habitat connectors, for a variety of wildlife. They also help control water pollution, reduce erosion, mitigate floods, and increase groundwater recharge. Riparian systems perform numerous ecosystem functions important to human populations, yet are one of the most endangered forest types in the United States.