header Riparian Best Management Practices (BMPs)
“Development along rivers and streams that destroys protective riparian areas is possibly the single most urgent ecosystem threat facing Montana today. Not only do these waterways and riparian areas provide fish and wildlife habitat, they also provide jobs and recreation.”

Governor Schweitzer

March 8, 2006
Letter to Directors at the Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, and the Fish Wildlife and Parks

PDF Letter to Directors [184 KB]

Access the "Room to Roam" Power Point presentation.

Download Presentation [52 MB]


To order brochures please contact Robert Ray at rray@mt.gov or (406) 444-5319.

Download Brochure [292 KB]


Your natural neighbors depend on a buffer between your home and the water.


We want to hear what you are doing to protect
Montana's rivers & streams!

The Governor's Task Force for Riparian Protection, the Department of Environmental Quality, and the Montana Association of Conservation Districts have teamed up to listen to Montanans about steps they have used and developed to care for riparian areas.

The Environmental Protection Agency has provided a grant to sponsor 14 listening sessions across Montana. During 2010 there will be formal listening sessions in Hamilton, Dillon, Glendive, Havre, Sidney, Miles City, Butte, Lewistown, Bozeman, Billings, Great Falls, Kalispell, Missoula, and Helena.

In addition, the grant will allow for research to learn about the “Best of the West” regarding the protection of riparian areas.

The information gathered from these projects will be made available to watershed groups, conservation districts, real estate agencies, transportation officials, farmers, ranchers, homeowners, recreationists, builders, municipalities, and others who use, own or manage land near or on Montana’s waterways.

Look in your local papers for news about the listening session near you or go to macdnet.org for a complete listening session schedule.

Long-time Montanans and newcomers alike are attracted to the state's unspoiled outdoor recreation opportunities.

Room to Roam Presentations

The Governor's Task Force for Riparian Protection has given "Room to Roam" PowerPoint presentations nineteen times across Montana in 2008 and 2009.

To inquire about scheduling a "Room to Roam" presentation in your area, please contact lsaul@mt.gov.

A New Home Builder's Guide to Responsible Development Near Rivers, Streams and Wetlands

Your future depends on clean water. Enjoyment of your new Montana home depends on the future health of Montana’s fish, wildlife, and natural areas.

Montana’s fastest growth is in rural places near rivers, lakes, and forests.

Today, people like you want to live near water, and areas nearest to Montana’s rivers, streams, and lakes are among the most popular rural development sites in Montana.

Rivers, streams, and wetlands makeup less than five percent of Montana's landscape, yet contain 75 percent of the state's plant and animal diversity.

Bank erosion, flooding, introduction of pollutants, and loss of critical habitat are all effects caused by building too closely to water's edge.

Most agree that’s worth protecting.
It makes sense to protect the natural values that you want to enjoy as you consider your new home site.

Healthy riparian areas with native vegetation (“riparian buffers”) protect your water, your privacy, your budget, and the natural landscapes that harbor the fish and wildlife everyone enjoys.

Riparian buffers reduce flooding
Healthy riparian areas with native vegetation reduce property damage and downstream flooding by allowing streams to overflow onto their natural floodplains.

Riparian buffers reduce pollution
Native vegetation next to streams filters and traps pollutants, and helps to maintain Montana’s water quality.

Riparian buffers reduce stream bank erosion
Native vegetation next to streams protects against erosion by slowing runoff and stabilizing stream banks.

Riparian areas provide fish and wildlife habitats
Riparian areas provide home for Montana’s fish and wildlife. Native vegetation provides protect fish and wildlife cover and provide shade that cools the water.

Riparian buffers provide economic benefits
Riparian buffers increase property values and provide economic benefits by reducing the need to combat flooding, repair eroding stream banks, and replace damaged property.

Riparian buffers provide recreation benefits and privacy
Montana's stream access law offers everyone the ability to enjoy Montana's waterways. Native vegetation provides homeowners privacy from anglers and floaters while protecting our traditional relationship with Montana's natural resources that makes Montana such an attractive place to live, work, visit, and play.

What can you do?

Constructing your home with a riparian buffer helps maintain a natural setting, and provides a place for fish, wildlife, and vegetation to thrive.

Remember, riparian areas provide you with personal assets that are economical, efficient, and sustainable.

Build on higher ground, outside of the floodplain, and back from streams and wetlands.

Leave streamside and wetland areas intact.

Never dig, cut native vegetation, or build within 300 feet of streamside or wetland areas.

Storm water rapidly runs off hard surfaces, so keep things like driveways, concrete patios, and rooftops to a minimum and direct runoff away from riparian and wetland areas.

Install septic systems outside riparian areas and the flood plain.

Join your local watershed group or contact Montana’s Watershed Coordination Council.

Don’t apply fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides near a stream, lake, or wetland.

Ask your county commissioners to include measures to protect riparian areas in the growth policy and land use regulations. Several communities in Montana require setbacks for buildings and vegetated riparian buffers for new development.

Provide this information about the importance of riparian buffers to your neighbors, your builder, your real estate agent, and others.

If you already live near a stream or river, consider improving your property with native landscaping to provide a buffer between your home and the stream.

The Governor's Task Force for Riparian Protection is represented by:

Governor's Office
Hal Harper, Chief Policy Advisor

Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks
Doris Fischer, Land Use Planning Specialist
T.O. Smith, Strategic Planning & Data Services
Bureau Chief

Department of Natural Resources and Conservation
Robert Ethridge, Forestry Assistance Bureau Chief
Laurence Siroky, Water Operations Bureau Chief
Ann Schwend, Water Resource Planner

Department of Commerce
Kelly Casillas, Legal Counsel
Jerry Grebenc, Community Technical Assistance
Program Manager

Department of Environmental Quality
Robert Ray, Watershed Protection Section Manager
Lynda Saul, Wetland Program Coordinator
Kristy Zhinin, Nonpoint Source Outreach & Education Coordinator