160 

Mike Liquori, Sound Watershed, mike@soundwatershed.com (Presenter)
Peter Cafferata, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Pete.Cafferata@fire.ca.gov
Kevin Boston, Oregon State University, kevin.boston@oregonstate.edu
George Gentry, California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection, George.Gentry@fire.ca.gov

 

In many jurisdictions, prescriptive riparian regulations have been in effect for several decades. While intended to benefit habitat and water quality, these restrictions appear to be failing to recover riparian functions in some areas, resulting in degraded conditions that negatively affect the environment. The current approach of regulating riparian timber harvest distorts the value of riparian forests by focusing almost exclusively on buffer width and retention requirements with only indirect links to ecosystem function. Current policies also discourage stewardship activities by adding costs and increasing requirements without providing landowners with direct economic benefits. California has recently established a regulatory pathway that supports active riparian stewardship. This new approach seeks to promote more immediate (short-term) responses to active riparian management practices that might not occur under the more prescriptive rule protocols. An Explicit Riparian Design methodology has been developed that will guide landowners in the design of restoration and enhancement treatments. Desired objectives may include increasing large wood loading, promoting increased biotic diversity, reducing catastrophic wildfire risk, or accelerating conifer tree growth. We are currently working to implement pilot projects using this approach and are exploring incentives for riparian stewardship by unconventional revenues sources (e.g., ecosystem service markets). By developing additional revenue sources, landowners are more likely to re-engage the science and art of forestry using a more stewardship-oriented model. This approach has the potential to more efficiently restore and conserve important ecosystem services using private market forces, reducing reliance upon complex prescriptive harvest restrictions as a regulatory mechanism.