Farmland Waterways

Restoring the Life-Blood of the Landscape: 100,000 Miles of Riverine Habitat

Farmers who have Waterways can make a big impact by conserving and restoring riparian areas which disproportionately support a larger number of plants and wildlife than their adjacent farmlands.

About 70% of the riparian habitat in the U.S. has been polluted, drained or scraped bare

About 70% of the riparian habitat in the U.S. has been polluted, drained or scraped bare.

Restoring riparian habitat buffers farmers’ fields against flooding, improves water quality and quantity on the farm and beyond, and also provides habitat for native carnivores and other animals trying to move safely between wild places on the landscape.

Our goal is to inspire 10% of river frontage on farms to be planted as Farmland Waterways, leading to 100,000 miles of riverine habitat.

Healthy Waterways Support Biodiversity

Every animal and plant living in and along a waterway is connected to the conditions of the land its water passes through.

The beavers, frogs and fish swimming in the water, and the birds and land mammals moving through the riverside habitat will thrive if living buffers are in place. The vegetation provides clean water, food and cover for these species. To have healthy waterways then requires that we manage for healthy landscapes.

Farms blessed with river frontage property can augment existing habitat and restore what’s missing. Making the riparian area structurally diverse with trees and shrubs, botanically diverse with many native species, and as wide as possible gives multifunctional benefits. Riparian trees, when given room, can store the most amount of carbon in the least amount of space on the farm. In the arid West, it is important to use plants naturally adapted to wet riparian areas.

How Do I Get Started with Planting Riverine Habitat?

Wild Farm Alliance offers a mix of resources, educational and funding opportunities for installing waterways.


Video Resources

Farmer Stories

Technical and Financial Assistance

With the help of our partners, we assist farmers in restoring riparian forest buffers and riparian herbaceous buffers.

  • We are assisting California farmers who have waterways with planting riparian forest and herbaceous buffers through California’s Healthy Soils Program, which aims to sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Contact us to find out about enrollment periods.
  • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) also offers support for riparian forest and herbaceous buffers across the nation, with an aim towards clean water, healthy soil and better wildlife habitat. Contact your state office.