Priceless: Maintaining your backyard stream corridor and what goes into it


“Water is the most critical resource issue of our lifetime and our children’s lifetime. The health of our waters is the principal measure of how we live on the land.” — Luna Leopold

The US has more than 3.5 million miles of rivers and streams. When we look at a river or creek, we often neglect to look at the entire corridor — the area on both sides of the river or creek. Rivers and streams are important for economic, social, cultural and environmental value.

The corridors are complex ecosystems that are made up of land, plants and animals.

These stream ecosystem complexes perform many ecological functions such as modulating stream flow, providing habitat for aquatic and terrestrial plants and animals, and removing harmful materials from water.

The basics

The physical structure of the stream corridor is formed by the movement of water, materials, energy and organisms. Changes are constantly occurring in the surrounding ecosystem. Regardless if the changes are natural or human caused, the physical, chemical and biological processes occurring within a stream corridor will be altered.

Of course, when the stream corridor is left in a natural state it is in equilibrium and the change is minimal.

This limited change helps maintain essential structure and functions. All stream corridors are part of a watershed.

Area of land

A watershed is an area of land that drains water, sediment, and dissolved materials to a common outlet at some point along a stream channel.

The major watershed in Columbiana County is the Little Beaver Creek Watershed. Some 65 percent of all creeks and streams in Columbiana County eventually flow into the Little Beaver Creek and then onto the Ohio River.

The waters are home to the endangered Eastern Hellbender Salamander, two state parks, a state forest system, a superb county park system, a state nature preserve, and on and on. … This creek provides a multitude of recreational activities for the public.

Activities can range from nature walks, canoeing and kayaking to bird watching, small mouth bass fishing and much more. It also provides a large area of high quality wildlife habitat throughout the glaciated and unglaciated areas of Columbiana County.

This habitat supports a unique plant community, a diverse macroinvertebrate population, 46 species of reptiles and amphibians, 49 species of mammals, 63 fish species and 140 species of birds. That’s why it is important that we keep Little Beaver Creek (a designated National Scenic River and a State Wild and Scenic River) healthy for everyone and everything.

Preserving stream corridors is one of the most satisfying opportunities in protecting our natural environment.

Take action

So, how can you help with this? It just takes two steps. First, it may be easier for you to think in terms of a specific creek or stream rather than on a watershed scale.

Think about the stream in your backyard or on your farm. By focusing on something we know and can relate to, we’re able to put it into perspective. Secondly, whatever you do to keep your backyard stream healthy has a positive effect on the “big picture.” It is a thankless job that has priceless benefits for everyone.


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