The riparian zone can be identified by both wetland soils and vegetative type and is especially important in the arid west. This zone which lays adjacent to rivers and streams, is utilized by many familiar local wildlife such as moose, elk, deer, several bird species, and small mammals. Riparian areas also help keep our rivers and streams healthy for our fish. In our region the riparian overstory is dominated by cottonwoods, willows, and red-osier dog woods. The many plants found in the riparian area help to dissuade erosion, increase water filtration, and provide excellent habitat for wildlife.