The Ways of Water

Our local streams and rivers are cool, clear and clean.  We owe it to ourselves and future generations to keep it this way.  So how do you design great indoor and outdoor spaces that honor and protect this precious resource?  To gain a little water-wisdom, we sat down with Tom Hinz of EcoLegacy Consulting LLC on a recent Friday afternoon to learn some great tips (thanks Tom!):

Like us Montana folk, our wetlands and riparian habitats need room to roam.  Design and locate structures that give waterways the space they deserve so they can function as nature intended.

Healthy wetlands and riparian areas rely on shade from surrounding trees, grasses and shrubs to keep the water desirably cool.  Plan to preserve this vegetation during the design process.  Low-maintenance structures and landscapes can help to accomplish this.

Livestock and riparian areas don’t mix very well.  Extensive traffic from hoofed animals affects water clarity, water quality and bank stabilization.  If livestock needs access to a waterway, limit the impacts by selecting an area with minimally sloping banks while providing durable surfaces (riprap, gravel, flat stones…etc) below and around the waterline to maintain water clarity from “hoof-traffic.”

Slow flowing water is good.  Use natural means to slow the flow of water on a property.  Wetlands, oxbows and meanders allow waterways to naturally expand and contract while providing excellent landscape and building design opportunities.

Look for indicators of health in and around riparian areas (vegetation types, bank slope, water speed…etc.) and create a plan to protect, restore and maintain the habitat.

Take pride in stewardship.  We Montanans are lucky to live high in the Nation’s watershed.  Keep it cool, clear and clean!

– Tripp Lewton