Streamside enhancement helps improve degraded streams. Degraded streams typically lack diversity in aquatic habitat and fauna, and may have increased levels of stream bank erosion. Stream degradation may be the product of past channelization, “flashy” hydrology due to less water soaking into the ground, lack of a vegetative buffer, or upstream pollution.
Streamside enhancement focuses on restoring a healthy floodplain. Establishing a healthy floodplain is a key part of nature’s water cycle and a stream’s overall health. A floodplain is the low-lying area surrounding a body of water, a stream is connected to its floodplain when it is able to overflow and spread out beyond its banks into the surrounding area during high flows. A healthy stream is one that is connected to its floodplain and will contribute to improved water quality, groundwater recharge, improved wildlife habitats, and reduce flood risk downstream. In order for a stream to be connected to its floodplain it must have stable and gently sloping banks; many degraded streams have steep eroded banks that do not allow a stream to utilize its floodplain. Streamside enhancement seeks to re-construct steep banks so they are stable and gently slope upward from the stream bed to the surrounding floodplain.