River Restoration Standards

American Rivers has developed and adopted a set of River Restoration Standards & Good Practices for our projects. These standards and practices guide American Rivers’ staff when making decisions about river restoration projects, practices and policies to ensure that we are working on meaningful and worthwhile efforts, irrespective of our role (i.e., manager, partner, supporter, funder, etc.). These standards and practices illustrate our expectations regarding restoration design and implementation to engineering and construction firms that we work with on our projects. We plan to uphold a model of excellence and expect the work of our consultants to align with our vision.

We encourage our partners and other restoration practitioners to be thoughtful in their approach to river restoration, to encourage the proliferation of high quality projects, and to institutionalize the application of our Standards & Good Practices where it is both practical and beneficial to do so. 

These practical guidelines for river restoration fall into two categories: required characteristics of high-quality restoration projects (Standards) and behaviors of restoration practitioners that support effective restoration projects (Good Practices). The Standards & Good Practices are listed below and will be described in greater detail in a future update.


Stream and river restoration projects will:

  1. Provide broad, meaningful ecological improvements
  2. Address root causes of impairment
  3. Emulate natural ecosystems
  4. Not cause lasting harm
  5. Be self-sustaining

Good Practices

Restoration practitioners should:

  1. Do projects that are necessary & worthwhile
  2. Set goals that meet the River Restoration Standards
  3. Incorporate an understanding of stressors, site constraints & future conditions
  4. Make efforts to limit short-term impacts 
  5. Monitor to evaluate if you are meeting goals