Riparian areas in the southwestern United States have historically provided the water necessary for people, livestock and agricultural crops. Anglo settlers during the 1800s were attracted to riparian areas in this semiarid region where they enjoyed the forage and shade for themselves and their livestock and existed on the readily available wildlife and fish. Trees growing along stream banks were exploited for fuel, poles and local building materials. As human populations increased, the demand for water in this water-limited region dominated the management of regional riparian ecosystems, particularly after World War II. As a result, many uniquely structured ecosystems were altered by attempts to salvage water. Only within the last 25 to 30 years have people once again begun to recognize the value of diverse benefits associated with riparian areas. The changing management emphasis from the evolving human attitudes about the holistic importance of southwestern riparian areas is the focus of this book. As they have in the past, riparian research, planning and management issues continue to concern the flows of water and sediments; impacts of livestock grazing and other human activities on these fragile systems; maintenance of key wildlife and fish habitats; and vegetative structure, classification and patterns of plant succession.
This book is intended to provide decision makers, land-use planners, managers, technicians and other stakeholders with information for sustaining environmentally sound riparian areas, which are characteristic of the arid and semiarid climates of the southwestern United States. The book can be a useful reference for professionals and lay people working in watershed partnerships, councils and local organizations in the region. It serves as an interdisciplinary reference for programs focusing on improved stewardship of riparian areas.
This volume complements Riparian Management in Forests of the Continental Eastern United States, edited by Elon S. Verry, James W. Hornbeck and C. Andrew Dolloff, and published in 2000 by Lewis Publishers. Eastern and southwestern regions of the country differ in resource capabilities, potentials and uses; climatic and hydrologic regimes and extremes; geologic and physiographic features; vegetative compositions and structures; land-ownership patterns, management objectives and practices and institutional arrangements. These differences compel different treatments and, therefore, a need for both books. We invited experts from government agencies, universities and the private sector to write chapters for this book. Each of the resulting chapters reflects the contributor's experience in and knowledge of the topics and his or her comprehensive literature review and analysis.
Following the introduction, the book is organized into four parts: Background, Functioning, Inhabitants and Land Uses, and Management. Part One presents background considerations, including descriptions and classifications of riparian areas, their setting and historical perspectives. Part Two covers hydrology and impacts of disturbances on hydrologic functioning, linkages between riparian corridors and surrounding watersheds and the effects of human alterations on riparian ecosystems. Part Three describes the inhabitants of southwestern riparian ecosystems including plants, mammals, avifauna, herpetofauna, native and introduced fish, insects and