Ramping up your Forest Buffer program

Rural or Urban?
• Rural (Districts, Feds, non-profits) Agricultural buffers are the most common because 1) they can intercept large amounts of water carrying nutrients, sediment, and sometimes toxic chemicals coming off farmland and 2) there are national programs to assist with the establishment of agricultural buffers.
• What is an agricultural RFB?


Grant Programs

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation: Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund

Chesapeake Bay Trust: Available Grants

USDA Forest Service Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry Landscape Scale Restoration Grants

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Regional Conservation Partnership Program

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grants


Ecosystem service markets can help sustain and enhance the benefits of buffers established through other funding sources:

Water Quality Trading
Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia are currently operating water quality trading programs. Producers are eligible to generate nutrient credits after meeting established “baselines” for performance.

Stormwater Reduction Regulations
Under the recently adopted Chesapeake Bay TMDL, local governments are required to reduce stormwater runoff and associated pollutants as well as offset the potential pollutants associated with new growth and development. Developers and local governments face significant challenges meeting the new criteria and will need to rely on offset approaches to address potential impacts. Producers can generate these offsets through a variety of practices including tree planting and implementation of riparian forest buffers.

Maryland’s Forest Conservation Act
Maryland’s Forest Conservation Act is one of the oldest market-based conservation mechanisms in the Chesapeake region. In short, the Act requires developers to replace trees cut because of development through afforestation or reforestation. Forest banking is a conservation tool that allows a woodland owner to create and protect forest and then sell “mitigation credits” to developers seeking to comply with the Act.

Maryland’s Critical Area Protection Act
Established in 1984, the Critical Area Protection Act regulates land use within 1,000 feet of tidal waters and wetlands. The Act regulates forest cover like the Forest Conservation Act, but also mandates retention and mitigation for forest interior dwelling habitat, riparian forest buffers and stormwater. If developers are unable to meet the Act’s requirements on site, private mitigation banks can be used to provide offsets.

Chesapeake Bay Regional Water Quality Trading Program
Trading Nutrient Reductions from Nonpoint Source Best Management Practices in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed: Guidance for Agricultural Landowners and Your Potential Trading Partners (Virginia Only)
Ecosystem Markets for Virginia’s Forest Lands
Ecosystem Markets for Maryland’s Forest Lands
Ecosystem Markets for Pennsylvania’s Forest Lands
Pennsylvania Stream ReLeaf
University of Maryland Extension Riparian Buffer Systems
Understanding the Science Behind Riparian Forest Buffers: An Overview
Understanding the Science Behind Riparian Forest Buffers: Benefits to Communities and Landowners
Understanding the Science Behind Riparian Forest Buffers: Effects on Water Quality


Addressing the Concerns of Aging Landowners Regarding Long Term or Permanent Protection of Riparian Forest Buffers, Retirement, and Handing Off to the Next Generation Presenters: Glen Carowan (MD DNR) and Emily Horsley (FSA, VA)




Chesapeake Forest Restoration Strategy (Section II: Fish and Wildlife Habitat)

Understanding the Science Behind Riparian Forest Buffers: Effects on Plant and Animal Communities



Developing Pollinator Habitat on Riparian Forest Buffers (need to link to riparian forest buffers pollinators.doc in google drive folder)



Webinars and Videos

How Does the West Virginia Fencing Project Work to Protect Streams and Riparian Forest Buffers and How Could You Set up this Kind of Partnership in Your State? Presenters: Gary Berti, Trout Unlimited; John Schmidt, West Virginia State Coordinator, US Fish & Wildlife Service PFW Program


From the Field: Linking land and water in brook trout conservation. 11/27/2012. Produced by the Steve Droter.




Webinars and Videos

Title: Success Strategies for Reaching Out to Absentee Landowner

Presenter: Joe Thompson, Landowner Advisor, Potomac Conservancy


Webinars and Videos

From Tree Planting to Establishment: Lessons Learned from Practice and Science on how to Improve Long-Term Riparian Forest Buffer Success and Save Money. Presenter: David Wise, Watershed Restoration Manager, Stroud Water Research Center; Katie Ombalski, Conservation Biologist, Clear Water Conservancy.



Landowner Guide to Buffer Success 

Invasive Plants of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas

Penn State Extension Herbicides and Forest Vegetation Management: Controlling Unwanted Trees, Brush, and Other Competing Forest Vegetation

Pennsylvania Field Guide: Common Invasive Plants in Riparian Areas

Understanding the Science Behind Riparian Forest Buffers: Planning, Establishment, and Maintenance


The vast majority (estimated 90%) of agricultural riparian forest buffers are placed using CREP.  CREP practice CP22 for riparian forest buffers pays the landowner rent for the land the buffer occupies.  A 15-year contract term is common and the landowner can get the cost of the buffer paid for and receive the annual rental payment.  What happens after the contract term ends?  The landowner is eligible to enroll for another 10 to 15-year contract.  Between 2015-2019, many acres in the Chesapeake Bay will be eligible for re-enrollment (see graphic?).   


Another option for the landowner is to place a conservation easement on the riparian buffer to permanently protect it.  Most states have programs that also pay for this practice, and there are often tax benefits.