Riparian habitats are found along rivers, creeks, streams and lakes and are made up of plant communities of woody vegetation. Riparian habitat can range from a dense thicket of shrubs to a closed canopy of large mature trees covered by vines. Riparian systems are one of our most important, and most neglected, renewable natural resources. Unfortunately, this valuable habitat has been removed, degraded, and disturbed since the first settlers arrived in California, with losses estimated to be as high as 95% of historic levels.
The goals of the CRHCP, as noted in its enabling legislation, are to protect, preserve, restore and enhance riparian habitat throughout California. To achieve these goals the program has adopted the following seven objectives:
- Assess the current amount and status of riparian habitat throughout the state.
- Identify those areas which are critical to the maintenance of California's riparian ecosystems.
- Identify those areas which are in imminent danger of destruction or significant degradation.
- Prioritize protection needs based on the significance of the site and potential loss or degradation of habitat.
- Develop and fund project-specific strategies to protect, enhance, or restore significant riparian habitat.
- Develop, administer, and fund a grants program for riparian habitat conservation.
- Provide a focal point for statewide riparian habitat conservation efforts.