Reporting and Crediting New Buffers
Each year, the Chesapeake Bay Program tracks progress toward the goals and outcomes in the Chesapeake Bay Agreement (see Chesapeake Progress). For riparian forest buffers (RFB), the reporting cycle is July 1- June 30. The acres that are directly reported are the best indicator of progress on RFB. At a minimum, data points reported are the number of acres and their watershed and width of buffer.
Acres: How many acres of new RFB were planted in a given year. If the new planting means that RFB are on both sides of the stream, a slight increase in credit is attributed in Phase 6.0 of the Bay Watershed Model.
Width: The science indicates that on average, buffers should be 100 feet or wider to realize full water quality benefits attributed to them.
Other data points that are requested as part of reporting to the Forestry Workgroup are:
- Unique identifier (parcel id, etc.)
- Length of forest buffer
- Acres of forest buffer
- Planting date
- Ownership type (public/private: Federal, state, other public, private)
- Notes/Comments Field
Water Quality Crediting
To read about the science behind the water quality credit attributed to RFB, read the Expert Panel Report.
All new RFBs incrementally reduce total nitrogen, phosphorus, and suspended sediment and are important to reaching the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). As with all other Best Management Practices, the RFB credit is registered in the Chesapeake Bay Model which simulates the watershed, the river flows, and associated transport and fate of nutrients and sediment that cause water quality degradation.