Riparian Habitat Classification and Mapping

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is the principal federal agency that provides information to the public on the extent and status of the nation's wetlands. The National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) has extensive mapping expertise and knowledge involving wetland identification and classification, image interpretation, and digital data capabilities. Reflecting this expertise, the NWI has been regularly asked to provide resource mapping guidance and requested to map riparian riparian
Definition of riparian habitat or riparian areas.

Learn more about riparian
areas of the western United States.

With growing interest in riparian habitats in the western United States, the Service undertook early riparian mapping projects for several agencies in Arizona in the early 1990s. Additional projects were conducted for the National Park Service in Nevada, and the Bureau of Land Management in Wyoming. Each project included a variety of definitions, classifications, and mapping conventions. The Service was regularly asked to map riparian areas in the western United States, but lacked a standard definition and conventions to guide the mapping.

In 1997, the NWI made a commitment to assemble a committee of habitat and cartographic specialists to develop the Service’s riparian definition and mapping conventions. In 2000, the Service's western regions began implementation of the system.

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Riparian Data

Digital riparian data can be viewed using the Wetlands Mapper. Riparian data is also available for download for the continental United States in Geodatabase or Shapefile format. Though riparian digital map data can stand alone, it is recommended that this data be used in conjunction with the associated wetlands data. This will provide a “complete picture” of the ecological systems that have been mapped.