Strategy RC8.1: Initiate a voluntary education program for increasing awareness among landowners to maintain healthy water quality on their land.
Educational programs, such as the Shade Your Stream Strategy by the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee, can be effective ways to encourage the voluntary improvement of riparian vegetation on private lands. Shade Your Stream programs educate landowners on the benefits of strategies to enhance water quality through a variety of easy-to-implement techniques. Techniques include protecting or planting native trees, shrubs, and other plants to help prevent bank erosion; trapping sediment and filter pollutants; avoiding mowing on or near the stream bank; and fencing livestock away from stream banks.
Implementing a Forestry Riparian Easement Program may provide another option for providing landowners incentives for protecting key riparian areas. A Forestry Riparian Easement Program compensates eligible small forest landowners in exchange for a 50-year easement on “qualifying timber.” This is the timber the landowner is required to leave unharvested as a result of forest practices rules protecting forests and fish. Landowners cannot cut or remove the qualifying timber during the easement period. The landowner still owns the property and retains full access, but has “leased” the trees and their associated riparian function to the state.