Is it a Riparian Corridor – or a Floodplain?


by Julie Ash, Walsh Environmental & CRA Board Member
Volume 22, Number 3, Fall 2011

The answer is…YES! The term “riparian floodplain” (a nice blend) is not new, by any means, but it doesn’t seem to currently hold mainstream status or enjoy everyday use among practitioners in Colorado. We more typically hear about either riparian zones or floodplains. In some cases, these can be different areas, but often they are the same and almost always there is significant overlap. Some definitions even call floodplains a category of riparian zones. It seems that some real advantages may be realized if we start using “riparian floodplain” for day-to-day references to these special areas. This use, at least at a higher level for basic communication, is an important change because it serves to convey the importance of both riparian functions and floodplain functions.

With increased recognition of the overlapping services provided by riparian floodplains, those responsible for them will achieve greater success in managing and greatly enhancing the myriad services afforded to us by riparian floodplains. We will all benefit from floodplain management projects that also consider groundwater recharge, habitat value, detritus supply, plant life cycles, and shading and cooling. Similarly, much will be gained when riparian restoration projects also consider floodwater conveyance and water quality.

Encouraging progress is being made in this direction and can be seen at two upcoming Colorado conferences – the Colorado Association of Stormwater and Floodplain Managers (CASFM) conference and the Sustaining Colorado Watersheds conference. We invite you to attend one or both and/or watch for reports from these important conferences.

The CASFM conference will be held this year in Snowmass at the Silvertree Lodge from September 27th through 29th. Visit:

The Sustaining Colorado Watersheds conference will be held this year in Avon at the Westin Riverfront Resort from October 4th through 4th. Visit: