Farmland Waterways


Restoring the Life-Blood of the Landscape

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.

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 be thriving if living buffers are in place. They can sense health and are drawn to it. 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.


Inspiring Farmers

We are inspiring farmers to take actions that value riparian zones because of their unique food webs that overlap onto farmlands. 

waterway_FAQ_image2.pngNatural enemies, such as lady bugs, parasitoid wasps, and songbirds that live in riverine habitat will move out into the farm when pest insects are on the rise. Rodent-eating predators that are traveling the riparian corridor will seek out their prey on farms, as will raptors when trees are present from which they can hunt. The riparian vegetation is also valuable because it stabilizes banks during flooding events, and riparian soils help to recharge groundwater.

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.


Education Opportunities


Tools and Resources

Growing the Movement

Ready to get started?

Learn about the many ways to get started with benefiting from and supporting waterways.

Three easy ways to get involved:

Farmers – conserve or restore riparian habitat along a waterway on your farm! Contact us to get started. Or if you already have habitat adjacent a waterway, let us know about it.

Advocates – Join WFA.

Spread the word - Share our information with your farmer friends and others who want to see more riparian vegetation along Farmland Waterways.