Streamside Landowner Program
Living along a stream in the Pacific Northwest is a tremendous gift for the lucky few who get to experience it. It can also pose unique challenges, such as flooding, bank erosion, beaver damage, and weed infestations, and comes with a responsibility to protect and steward this special natural resource.
The stewardship of the stream on your property can have a real, positive impact in helping to support clean water, abundant salmon, wildlife habitat, drainage, flood control, and erosion control on your property and throughout your watershed. The steps you take now to improve the health of your streamside area will have positive impacts that only grow moving forward, leaving a legacy of stewardship for future generations.
Resources for Streamside Landowners
To support your efforts to keep your stream healthy, Snohomish County provides a variety of resources to streamside landowners in unincorporated areas of the County, including:
- Technical Assistance on a wide range of topics relevant to streamside landowners
- Habitat Restoration Guidance
- Streamside Landowner Workshops (view a recording here )
- Free Native Trees & Shrubs for streamside plantings
- Free Site Visits to discuss your questions and the issues specific to your property
To learn how we can help support your efforts to improve the health of your stream, simply reach out to your Watershed Steward or request a free site visit!
How to Be a Stream Friendly Landowner
There are a number of actions you can on your streamside property that will have a real impact on the health of your stream and watershed! Read more about several of these actions below, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your Watershed Steward if you have any questions about how to put these into practice on your property.
Retain and Protect Existing Native Vegetation
Native vegetation is one of the most important contributors to the health of our streams. Established trees, shrubs, and groundcovers along streams protect and improve water quality, build on-land and in-stream habitat, and help protect your streambank from erosion and loss of property.
Ensuring that the existing native vegetation along your stream is protected is one of the simplest and most impactful things you can do for the health of your stream.
Control Invasive Plant Species
While native vegetation is critically important to the health of our streams, non-native or invasive plant species along our waterways can have a negative effect on water quality, streambank stability, habitat quality, and overall stream health. Potential impacts of invasive plant species include:
- Reduced populations of healthy, native vegetation
- Reduced quality and quantity of wildlife habitat
- Increased soil and streambank erosion
- Impaired water quality
For more information on invasive plant identification and control, visit our invasive plants webpage.
Plant Native Vegetation
If your streamside lacks dense native vegetation, then planting native trees and shrubs is highly recommended. Establishing a healthy population of diverse native vegetation along your stream is one of the most impactful ways to build habitat and promote healthy water quality. Native plants provide many benefits which function to promote stream health:
- Providing shade to reduce stream temperatures
- Filtering stormwater
- Stabilizing streambanks and protecting against erosion
- Providing habitat for both aquatic and terrestrial species
For more information on identifying, selecting, sourcing, and installing native plants, visit our native plants webpage.
Practice Natural Yard Care
By putting the principles of Natural Yard Care into practice, there are many simple opportunities to reduce the impact that our yards and gardens have on water quality and stream health. Actions we can take to improve the health of our lawn, garden, and soil, that will also benefit streams, include:
- Reducing or eliminating the use of fertilizers and pesticides.
- Covering bare soil with plants or mulch.
- Choosing the right plant for the right place.
- Practicing natural lawn care.
- Not placing yard waste into critical areas or buffers.
- Disposing of yard waste properly: use curbside pick-up, compost yard waste at home, or haul to composting facility.
For more information about how to put these into action on your property, visit our Natural Yard Care webpage.
Manage Pets and Livestock
Living with pets and livestock is an important part of life for many residents of Snohomish County. Unfortunately, if they are not properly managed, they can have unintended negative impacts on water quality, riparian vegetation, and in-stream habitat. Here are some steps you can take to prevent negative impacts on your property.
- Pick up pet waste. Learn more about preventing pollution from pet waste.
- Exclude livestock from streams and streamside vegetation. The Snohomish Conservation District offers several resources, including technical and financial assistance, for livestock owners.
Live With Beavers (when feasible)
While beavers play a very important role in the health and function of our streams, wetlands, and watersheds, they can also cause headaches for landowners when their activities conflict with human land uses.
Fortunately, there are management options available to help mitigate the impacts of beavers while often allowing us to live alongside them and continue to benefit from their presence on the landscape. In some cases, removal is also an option, although this is generally a temporary solution because if a beaver is removed from a preferred habitat, it is extremely likely that another beaver will move into the newly available habitat.
For more information on beaver management options, explore the following resources, and don’t hesitate to contact your Watershed Steward for site-specific guidance: