Importance of Riparian Zone
Riparian Zones are the areas bordering on streams, lakes and wetlands that link water to land. Most of Manitoba's ditches drain directly into steams, lakes or wetlands. In essence, Manitoba's ditches are water courses. One could almost view them as small streams. Because ditches are wet for at least the spring season, they can be characterized as wetlands. These areas support a diversity of species. As a minimum, most of Manitoba's ditches should be regarded as riparian zones. Riparian Zones are considered especially important for clean water and healthy ecosystems. Protecting riparian zones means water is cleaner and fish and aquatic life are not exposed to lethal chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides. Chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides degrade water quality, are hazardous for your health and can be deadly for fish and other aquatic life.
Riparian zones are important for soil conservation, habitat biodiversity and the influence they have on aquatic ecosystems. Well managed riparian zones benefit all of us. Riparian zones act as a biofilter, protecting aquatic environments from excessive sediment, polluted surface run off and erosion. Riparian zones protect fish habitat by providing cleaner water, providing insects and vegetation for food for fish. Protecting riparian zones means ground water and surface water is better quality. A well managed riparian zone is beautiful, can act as a carbon sink, and provide oxygen.
The Noxious Weed Act threatens Manitoba's Water quality
Many of the so called noxious weeds in this act are water plants such as bulrushes, cattails and sedges. If the herbicides applied, are not designed for riparian zones, they can be very long lasting and poisonous to fish and other aquatic organisms. It is especially important that ditches be considered sensitive areas because of their direct link to water ways in Manitoba. The fish populations as well as other aquatic organisms are threatened by the application of inappropriate herbicides. If a herbicide needs to be used, it should not be toxic to aquatic life and it should not be persistent
Manitoba is where I was born and where I have spent most of the five and one half decades of my life. I lived on the outskirts of the town of Portage La Prairie at a time when tadpoles and frogs inhabited the ditches and ponds, when there were many Monarch butterflies each summer along with dragon flies and grasshoppers. Redwing blackbirds perched the cattails of the ditches. As children we picked dandelions for bouquets and made wishes before blowing dandelion seed heads. We searched clover for lucky four leaves and rolled on the grass…there was no concern of poisonous herbicides. The grass was thick. Wherever we dug…there were earthworms