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Riparian Assessments & Macroinvertebrate Bioassessments 

Biomonitors assess the health of your lake, river, stream or estuary based on the riparian habitat and the aquatic insects that live there. Data will be coupled with water quality data and used to track ecosystem and habitat health over time in the rivers and streams that flow to the Texas Coast.

The assessment utilized, known as rapid bioassessment, is a relatively inexpensive screening tool which uses freshwater macroinvertebrates, fish, and habitat to determine the quality of the riparian habitat. Texas Stream Team (TST) has developed a training program that educates citizen scientists about the importance of using benthic macroinvertebrates as indicators of the biological condition of waterbodies. Benthic macroinvertebrates are used to assess the long-term water quality of a stream because many species are sensitive to pollution and sudden changes in their environment.

TST's Rapid Macroinvertebrate Bioassessment protocols were developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and adopted by the TST citizen science program. Citizen scientist biological monitoring requires the program’s three-phase Bioassessment Training, which includes an overview of the TST citizen science program, monitoring techniques, and quality assurance tests. Read below to find more information on our offered Riparian Assessment Training.

About Riparian Areas

A riparian area is the part of the landscape that borders a creek or river. When a riparian area is healthy and functioning properly it filters and slows run-off and floodwaters, and allows for sediment trapping, water storage and groundwater infiltration. The water quality benefits of a healthy riparian area are well documented.

It is important to collect data on riparian areas because the indicators of riparian function (listed below) can lead to the identification of activities that may be hindering the natural riparian recovery process.

riparian training
Conducting a Riparian Assessment Training using the Your Remarkable Riparian book and worksheet. View upcoming trainings on the Texas Stream Team calendar.

Riparian Assessment Training

The training focuses on the nature and function of stream and riparian zones, and the benefits and direct impacts from healthy riparian zones. The riparian education programs covers an introduction to riparian principles, watershed processes, basic hydrology, erosion/deposition principles, and riparian vegetation, as well as potential causes of degradation and possible resulting impairment(s), and available local resources including technical assistance and tools that can be employed to prevent and/or resolve degradation.

Riparian assessments include an evaluation of current riparian conditions, identification of opportunities for improvement, and establishment of visual assessment sites.

  • The goal is for participants to better understand and relate to riparian and watershed processes, the benefits that healthy riparian areas provide, and the tools that can be employed to prevent and/or resolve degradation and improve water quality.
  • The first portion of the training is in a classroom setting. The second portion is spent outdoors, where the individuals get a first-hand experience evaluating riparian areas.
  • Monitors are required to go through a Riparian Assessment Training that prepares the monitors to point out the variety, succession and function of riparian vegetation that protects creek banks, stabilizes channels, reduces erosion, and dissipates the energy of floodwaters.
  • Certified riparian monitors can send the worksheets and photos to the Texas Stream Team via mail or
  • At the conclusion of the training, participants fill out the required paperwork to receive a Texas Stream Team certificate of completion.
riparian bulls-eye
Riparian Bull's-Eye Evaluation from Your Remarkable Riparian. Click through for the full worksheet.

Riparian Bull's-Eye Evaluation Tool

The Riparian Bull's-Eye Evaluation Tool found in Your Remarkable Riparian Field Guide Third edition (published by the Nueces River Authority, April 2016), uses ten riparian indicators to guide observation and can help lead to the identification of activities that may be hindering the natural riparian recovery process.

Ten riparian indicators for assessment:

  1. Active floodplain
  2. Energy dissipation
  3. New plant colonization
  4. Stabilizing vegetation
  5. Riparian age diversity
  6. Diversity of riparian vegetation
  7. Plant vigor
  8. Water storage
  9. Bank or channel erosion
  10. Sediment deposition

Your Remarkable Riparian

Your Remarkable Riparian Field Guide and Owner's Manual are now available through The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment for $22 a book + $8 for shipping. Contact Texas Stream Team for details and to order your book(s).