Buffers along streams cover a tremendous proportion of the land base in the forested systems of the western Pacific Northwest. These buffers were designated primarily to conserve and restore habitat for salmon and trout, but conservation of habitat for a number of other organisms also has been implicit in their design. Recent research evaluated the importance of buffers in providing habitat for other vertebrates, especially amphibians, whose decreasing numbers are raising concerns worldwide. Riparian buffers constrain management options along streams and encumber trees that might otherwise be harvested for commodity production. Thus understanding the importance of buffers for wildlife habitat is important in evaluating options for management. Researchers examined small headwater streams on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula with buffers that were put in place prior to implementation of the Northwest Forest Plan. These riparian buffers were, for the most part, narrower than those prescribed by current guidelines. Preliminary results suggest closer attention needs to be paid to nonfish species in these locations, particularly the sensitive amphibians.
Duncan, Sally. 2003. Arise, amphibians: stream buffers affect more than fish. Science Findings. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. May (53): 1-5