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Riparian Corridors

Riparian Corridor
Riparian Corridor

Riparian Corridors map of the Environmental Element of the Comprehensive Plan 


Riparian Area: The area of transition from an aquatic ecosystem to a terrestrial ecosystem.

Riparian Corridor: The area within a boundary established along both sides of a waterway, including the riparian area and any associated wetlands.

Fish Bearing Stream: A stream inhabited at any time of the year by anadromous or game fish species, or fish that are listed as threatened or endangered species under the federal or state Endangered Species Act.

Riparian Vegetation: Native ground cover, shrubs, trees, and other vegetation predominately influenced by their association with water.

Top-of-Bank: The two-year recurrence interval flood elevation may be used to delineate the top of bank.


In order to sustain and enhance Medford's existing wildlife habitats, both aquatic and terrestrial, it is important to identify and designate areas as riparian corridors, greenways, wetlands, and other open space reserves. These areas will not only sustain wildlife habitat, but also satisfy the requirements for its protection as mandated by Statewide Planning Goal 5.

Preserving the existing natural corridors is critical to the preservation and enhancement of wildlife for several reasons.

  • For terrestrial wildlife, particularly those species that require large home ranges, connecting corridors are as essential habitat element, as they permit access into areas that may be otherwise too small to use if isolated.
  • For less transient species, corridors are important in the long-term as they allow movement between populations, providing for genetic exchange and more healthy individuals.

The purposes of establishing riparian corridors are:

  1. To implement the goals and policies of the “Environmental Element” and the “Greenway” General Land Use Plan (GLUP) designation of the Medford Comprehensive Plan and achieve their purposes.
  2. To protect and restore Medford’s waterways and associated riparian areas, thereby protecting and restoring the hydrologic, ecologic, and land conservation functions these areas provide for the community.
  3. To protect fish and wildlife habitat, enhance water quality, control erosion and sedimentation, and reduce the effects of flooding.
  4. To protect and restore the natural beauty and distinctive character of Medford’s waterways as community assets.
  5. To provide a means for coordinating the implementation of the Bear Creek Greenway and other greenways or creek restoration projects within the City of Medford.
  6. To enhance the value of properties near waterways by utilizing the riparian corridor as a visual amenity.
  7. To enhance coordination among local, state, and federal agencies regarding development activities near waterways.


  1. Plant native trees and shrubs along streams to help stabilize the banks and provide cooling shade for the water.
  2. Use fencing to keep livestock from damaging stream banks.
  3. Avoid operating heavy equipment in streams, which can ruin spawning beds, create sediment problems, and cause other long-term damage.
  4. Limit impacts on waterways to only those essential to your operation. Consult with necessary agencies before you act. Oregon and federal laws prohibit diking, channelizing, and water diversions without a permit, and provide a clear set of operational guidelines. Dredging or removing material from rivers is also tightly regulated. You may not place any artificial structure in a stream or river that blocks fish passage.
  5. Check with DEQ about responsible runoff management at your site. Construction can cause serious sediment problems, even well away from a waterway, if stormwater is not properly contained. State law requires larger earth-disturbing developments to go through a permitting process. While smaller operations may not need permits, they can still have impacts.
  6. If you must use a septic tank, be sure it is properly designed, located, and well maintained. Poorly performing septic tanks can contaminate groundwater and nearby streams.
  7. Dispose of household chemicals, such as used motor oil, antifreeze, pesticides, paints, etc., at approved collection facilities in your area. Call your local DEQ office for your disposal options.

Source: Oregon Department of Environmental Quality


When reviewing development applications for properties containing a riparian corridor, the approving authority will consider how well the proposal satisfies these objectives. The code requirements for development within the riparian corridors can be found in the Medford Land Development Code, Sections 10.920-10.928.


As required by Statewide Planning Goal 5, the ordinance provides for a riparian corridor boundary of 50-feet, measured from the top-of-bank along both sides of the waterway with an average annual flow of less than 1,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) and identified as being fish-bearing streams, or other waterways having riparian areas determined to be significant.




Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW)


ODFW - Riparian Lands Tax Incentive


Rogue Valley Council of Governments (RVCOG) - Riparian Planting Program


Bear Creek Watershed Council


Riparian Inventory


Additional Department Information

Planning Department Contacts

200 South Ivy Street, Lausmann Annex, Room 240
Medford, Oregon 97501
Phone: 541-774-2380
Fax: 541-618-1708
Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday

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