Few of us in the High Country can fail to notice almost daily a creek, stream, river or other body of flowing water. Whether on our morning drive, an afternoon walk or evening bike ride, our waterways are an ever-present part of the scenery.

For many, that scenery includes waterways on private land — and streambanks we often manipulate by mowing and tending to engender more pastoral settings. Yet such care in search of a trimmed or manicured yard, if not responsibly taken, can effect disastrous outcomes in terms of ever-worsening flooding, contaminating drinking water, fouling the waters of aquatic waterlife and costing hefty stream restoration due to erosion.

Because the roots from mowed grass will not be strong enough over time to defend a streambank from eroding, the most simple solution, according to professionals who work to protect our watersheds, is to do nothing. Streambanks that appear overgrown or untended actually improve habitats and water quality, and work to reduce erosion and flood damage.

Still, there are middle grounds for those looking to improve their property. Swapping overgrowth for native shrubs, trees and wildflowers are acceptable options.

What is not acceptable is ignoring dangerous long-term effects for short-term aesthetics. Water quality is the responsible of us all — and so the next time you happen upon an overgrown streambank, pause, smile and take in the view.

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