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Why Plants Are Important 
 
8 Reasons Why Plants Are Important For Riparian Areas

Tree shaded stream

Edgewater St. NW, flood of 1948 - Courtesy of Salem Library

1. Trees and tall plants provide shade that keeps stream temperatures cool.

2. Plants help prevent flooding and pollution because they absorb rainwater and filter runoff.

3. Vegetated areas help supply surface water flows during dry times because they absorb rain and moisture, storing it in the watershed.

4. Plant roots along a stream stabilize stream banks and prevent erosion.

5. Leaves and other plant debris that fall into a stream provide a food source for many aquatic invertebrates.

6. Trees that fall into a stream provide a surface for a variety of aquatic organisms to live on or feed from.

7. Streamside vegetation provides important habitat and food for many species of land animals such as birds, mammals, and amphibians.

8. Logs, root wads, and low-hanging branches in streams and along stream banks provide protective cover for fish.

Dragonfly

So why are native plants better than "exotic" ones?

Over thousands of years, native plants have adapted to the Willamette Valley soils and climate of rainy winters and dry summers. Thus, they typically don't need extra water in the summer to survive. As the plants evolved, Willamette Valley wildlife adapted to the available native plants, learning to depend on them for food and shelter.

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