Riparian Regulations

Riparian zone

What are riparian zones?

Riparian zones, or areas, are lands that occur along the edges of rivers, streams, lakes, and other water bodies. Examples include streambanks, riverbanks, and flood plains. They’re different from the surrounding uplands because their soils and vegetation are shaped by the presence of water. Riparian zones may represent a relatively small percentage of the land area within Blaine County, but they support the highest density and abundance of plants and animals of any habitat type here.

Riparian zones provide many important functions and benefits, including:

  • Providing habitat (including migration routes and habitat connectors) for a diversity of wildlife,
  • Helping to maintain water quality, because riparian vegetation can remove excess nutrients and sediment from surface runoff,
  • Stabilizing stream banks and reducing floodwater velocity (thanks to riparian vegetation), and
  • Providing recreation opportunities and scenic beauty.

Also, in addition to riparian plants providing habitat and stabilizing stream banks, overhanging vegetation shades streams, which reduces water temperatures for fish.

Blaine County Riparian Setbacks:

Mowing, dredging, filling, construction, , installation of septic systems, scraping by motorized equipment, and removal of vegetation or root systems is prohibited within our riparian setbacks. All streams within Blaine County have associated setbacks. Refer to the following definitions for more information. 


Those areas where surface water produces a defined channel or bed which demonstrates evidence of the passage of water. Dry washes, irrigation ditches, canals, surface water runoff devices or other entirely artificial water bodies/watercourses (unless specifically referred to below) are not included. "streams" are further defined as follows:

Class 1 Streams: 75' Setback

Streams and/or reaches of streams with the potential to have extensive flooding, erosion and attendant hazards and include the Big Wood River.

Class 2 Streams: 50' Setback

Streams and/or reaches of streams that flow year round during years of normal rainfall and have the potential for significant flooding and erosion. Such streams include the East Fork of the Big Wood River, Little Wood River, Salmon River (Upper), Smiley Creek, Trail Creek and Warm Springs Creek.

Class 3 Streams: 25' Setback

 Smaller perennial or intermittent streams and/or reaches of streams that are prone to periodic flooding and erosion. Class 3 streams shall include, but are not limited to, the following: Beaver Creek, Broadford Slough, Croy Creek, Deer Creek, Eagle Creek, Greenhorn Creek, Purdum Slough, Fish Creek and Rock Creek.

Class 4 Streams: 25' Setback

All spring fed creeks and their tributaries, which are not subject to erosive flooding. Class 4 streams include, but are not limited to, the following: Grove Creek, Loving Creek, Mudd Creek, Patton Creek, Silver Creek, Spring Creek and Wilson Creek. 

View the Riparian Setback Regulations HERE