Riparian Setbacks

Riparian Setback Matrix Model

According to the MDP2010, riparian areas are lands adjacent to a watercourse where the vegetation and soils show evidence of being influenced by the presence of water. Riparian areas are the green zone around a watercourse. They are the transitional zone between surface water and drier uplands and play a vital role in the healthy functioning of both.

Riparian areas have been shown to play a role in:

  • Filtering sediment, nutrients, agricultural chemicals and other pollutants from surface runoff
  • Protecting stream banks from erosion
  • Providing food, water, and cover for many species of terrestrial animals
  • Providing shade, food, and reducing stream water temperature for fish and other aquatic organisms
  • Providing leaf litter and woody debris to the stream
  • Providing travel corridors for a wide variety of wildlife; and
  • Trees and grasses in riparian areas stabilize stream banks and reduce floodwater velocity, resulting in reduced downstream flood peaks

Foothills County has developed a Riparian Setback Matrix Model (PDF) and a set of Developers Guidelines (PDF) to be used to determine appropriate development setbacks from riparian areas throughout the Municipality. Please also read the municipal process for establishing riparian setbacks (PDF).