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National Riparian Service Team

Picture of a riparian area. On March 20, 1996, the USDA Forest Service and the USDI Bureau of Land Management, in partnership with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), agreed to implement a strategy to "Accelerate Cooperative Riparian Restoration and Management". The initial focus of this effort was grazing management in eleven western states with directions to expand the program over time. The charge was to act as a catalyst to encourage relationships, build trust, and create a common vision by bringing people together to achieve understanding, reach agreement, and to move beyond litigation and gridlock. The Team also strongly stresses the importance of a watershed approach to problem solving and the benefits of keeping water on the land longer.


The roles for the National Riparian Service Team (NRST) are in three major strategic areas:

  1. Training and information sharing
  2. Consulting and advisory services
  3. Program review and evaluation

The NRST also provides assistance to State Training Cadres and coordinates with research, community representatives, industry, conservation groups, and the Forest Service's National Headquarters. The organization for the effort includes the Riparian Coordination Network, which includes the NRST, Agency Riparian Coordinators, and the individual State Training Cadres consisting of Federal and State agency personnel, user groups, environmental organizations, extension specialists, and private consultants.

Program Impact

A survey was done in 1999 verifying this program has had a significant impact on the agencys', private, and state watersheds in the Western States. It has improved communication between all landowners. It developed a common vocabulary and formed a vision for watersheds supported by those most affected by the success or failure of restoration efforts. "Keeping high quality water on the land longer" is one of the top resource management issues facing the world today. This program has made a significant difference where it has been used. The potential to impact other watersheds throughout the United States is critical to the restoration of watersheds.

Opportunities for Collaboration

We can no longer afford the luxury of land management at the scale we once had. The number of laws and regulations that are requiring major changes in the philosophies of agency and private managers are becoming overwhelming and resulting in increasing conflict. There are several initiatives that provide opportunities for collaboration. These include the Clean Water Action Plan, Unified Federal Policy, GPRA, Clean Water Act, CRP, CREP, and others.

The NRST interagency program has proven to provide a mechanism for accomplishing positive change at the watershed scale with diverse groups and interests. An opportunity exists to expand this approach to the Midwest and Eastern States. This would result in the formation of two more lead teams, one in the north lead by the NRCS and one in the south lead by the Forest Service, to coordinate this expansion and develop the needed state cadre support. This expansion would also allow for more agencies and groups to also participate, such as the Fish and Wildlife Service, Army Corps of Engineers, Ducks Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, National Farm Bureau, State Agencies and others.

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Last modified: Tuesday, 13-Sep-2016 11:38:12 CDT