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A watershed is an area of land that drains to a body of water. As water moves over the landscape, it comes into contact with pollutants like sediment, nutrients from fertilizers, litter and debris in stormwater, and much more. These pollutants enter our rivers, lakes, wetlands, and other waterways, damaging fish and wildlife habitat and putting our drinking water sources at risk.


Because water flowers over the landscape, actions taken in one part of the watershed will affect the rest of the watershed. Additionally, small streams flow into larger streams, which means that your local watershed is part of another larger watershed. 



The majority of Columbiana County falls within the Little Beaver Creek Watershed, which means that the Little Beaver Creek, one of its stems, or one of their many tributaries flow throughout the majority of the county. Little Beaver Creek also flows through Carroll County, Mahoning County, and western Pennsylvania. It is composed of the West Fork, Middle Fork, and North Fork, which join at different locations to become the Main Stem of Little Beaver Creek. Several tributaries flow into each stream section, so it is likely that you live within the Little Beaver Creek Watershed as well as one of its many sub-watersheds. In total, the watershed covers approximately 510 square miles. 


When it rains, water flows to nearby creeks, streams and rivers. In areas that are not directly next to a body of water, it drains into an underlying aquifer, and in urban cases a storm drain. If streambanks are eroded or there is an excess of organic nutrients in a drainage pattern, sediments and nutrients accumulate. This can result in algal blooms, loss of ecological diversity, and an overall decline in water quality.

The Columbiana County Soil & Water Conservation District is asking for stakeholder feedback for this living document. Upon completion the plan will be submitted to the Ohio EPA and the U.S. EPA for approval. Once approved this plan will serve as the blueprint for future projects
and funding.


Ohio laws relating to drainage and water rights can very confusing and complex. Columbiana SWCD will work with you, other government agencies, and your neighbors (where applicable) to mitigate drainage issues with your property

Image by frame harirak


Stormwater is defined as discharges generated by runoff from land and impervious areas (paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops) during rainfall and snow events. This runoff often contains pollutants that are hazardous for aquatic organisms and can contaminate drinking water sources. Implementation of best management practices (BMPs) can reduce the amount of stormwater reaching streams. BMPs for managing stormwater can include small solutions like rain gardens, or can include larger projects like bio retention cells and vegetated swales. 


Riparian Buffers

The term "riparian" refers to the land that is directly adjacent to a stream. Riparian can also refer to the land adjacent to a wetland, pond, or lake. A riparian buffer is a vegetated area along a body of water.


This vegetation "buffers" the stream from the impacts of human activity - like farming,
industry, urbanization, and livestock grazing - and protects the water quality of
the stream.

Image by Dan Seddon

Benefits of Riparian Buffers:

Components of a Riparian Buffer

Riparian buffers are a form of green infrastructure. By providing habitat, holding soil in place, and mitigating stormwater, they can be an asset in farm fields, backyards, and even urban areas!

The main components of a buffer include:

  • Trees

  • Shrubs

  • Grasses

  • Forbs

Riparian buffers are planted with native plants that are adapted to Ohio's soils and climate. In addition to the environmental benefits that these buffers provide, they can be managed for fruit and berry production. If you have a stream or other body of water that runs through your property, contact Columbiana SWCD.

What Should I Plant In My Riparian Buffer?

When planting a riparian buffer, it is important to select trees, shrubs, and other species that are
adapted to the saturated soil conditions found along streams. The Columbiana SWCD can help
you create a planting plan for your riparian corridor. The district office will also help you
determine the appropriate depth of the riparian buffer.


  • Box Elder Acer negundo

  • Black Maple Acer nigrum

  • Red Maple Acer rubrum

  • Silver Maple Acer saccharinum

  • Yellow Birch Betula lutea

  • River Birch Betula nigra

  • Shagbark Hickory Carya ovata

  • Hardy Catalpa Catalpa speciosa

  • Common Hackberry Celtis occidentalis

  • Eastern Redbud Cercis canadensis

  • Beech Fagus grandifolia

  • Kentucky Coffeetree Gymnoclaus dioicus

  • Butternut Juglans cinerea

  • Black Walnut Juglans nigra

  • Sweetgum Liquidambar styraciflua

  • Tulip Poplar Liriodendron tulipifera

  • Cucumber Magnolia Magnolia acuminata

  • Black Gum Nyssa sylvatica

  • Sycamore Platanus occidentalis

  • Cottonwood Populus deltoides

  • Quaking Aspen Populus tremuloides

  • Wild Black Cherry Prunus serotina

  • Chokecherry Prunus virginiana

  • Swamp White Oak Quercus bicolor

  • Bur Oak Quercus macrocarpa

  • Pin Oak Quercus palustris

  • Red Oak Quercus rubrum

  • Weeping Willow Salix babylonica

  • Black Willow Salix nigra


  • Allegheny Serviceberry Amelanchier laevis

  • Black Chokeberry Aronia melanocarpa

  • Common Pawpaw Asimina triloba

  • American Hornbeam Carpinus caroliniana

  • Buttonbush Cephalanthus occidentalis

  • Silky Dogwood Cornus amomum

  • Flowering Dogwood Cornus florida

  • Sumac Rhus hirta

  • Common Elderberry Sambucus canadensis

  • Arrowwood virburnum Viburnum dentatum

  • Nannyberry Viburnum lentago

Other Plants

  • Gray's Sedge Carex grayi

  • Northern Fox Sedge Carex stipata

  • Blunt Spike Rush Eleocharis obtusa

  • Fowl Manna Grass Glyceria striata

  • Southern Blue Flag Iris Iris virginicus

  • Cardinal Flower Lobelia cardinalis

  • Common Monkeyflower Mimilus ringens

There are many more species that are suitable for a riparian buffer. Contact the CSWCD for further information.

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