If you own agricultural fields that border a wide river, a cabin near a large lake, or even a small stream in your backyard, you can improve water quality and wildlife habitat by creating a riparian buffer. Newly planted vegetation should also be inspected after heavy rains to make sure that they are not damaged. The commonwealth has a goal of planting 95,000 acres of riparian forest buffers statewide by 2025 to improve waterways in Pennsylvania and the Chesapeake Bay. Wood ducks, typically found along rivers at least 600 feet wide, nest in large cavities along the river's edge. Some of the more practical considerations in deciding how to create a riparian buffer are as follows: While wildlife use may be your primary consideration, hydrology, prior land use, slope of the land, and desired water quality benefits are a few of the many considerations in determining zone and total buffer width. On December 21, 2014, amendments to Pennsylvania's Clean Streams Law, required by Act 162 of 2014, go into effect. This grant is 100% paid. TITLE: Riparian Buffer or Riparian Forest Buffer Offsetting EFFECTIVE DATE: March 21, 2015 AUTHORITY: The Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law, as amended by Act 162 of 2014 (Act 162), 35 P.S. In agricultural areas, this zone can be important for slowing runoff and trapping sediment. In areas with excess sedimentation problems, you may want to consider planting more of your total buffer in grasses (Zone 3), which help to hold the soil. Think about plants that offer the most benefit as food, cover, and nesting sites, and include a mix of deciduous and evergreen species. As a stream system's quality declines, fish like catfish and carp, more tolerant of poor conditions, begin increasing, and those less tolerant, such as trout, begin to decline. Organic mulches such as leaf humus, wood chips (avoid redwood or cedar; they can be toxic to some types of plant seedlings), pine mulch, or shredded bark help to retain moisture and limit weeds in a newly planted buffer. A lack of trees along the riparian zone can cause higher water temperatures, which may ultimately deplete oxygen levels in the water. JavaScript seems to be disabled in your browser. A riparian buffer prevents surface runoff from moving too quickly over the land before it can filter into the soil and recharge groundwater supplies. Multifunctional riparian buffers (PDF, 947 KB), or income-producing buffers, are the trees, shrubs, and other plants alongside rivers, streams, and wetlands that produce products that can be harvested and sold, such as fruits, nuts, and decorative woody floral species. The area houses many plants that are wetland specialists like skunk cabbage and silky dogwood. A good riparian buffer can remove up to 80 percent of excessive nutrient inputs. To provide bank stabilization as well as shade and organic inputs for the stream system. Plant a tree next to it, says the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, or DNCR. This will likely incur additional costs, and professional assistance may be necessary. Riparian buffers protect water quality by intercepting sediment and pollution from agricultural fields, residential lawns, roadways, and other sources. Howard, PA 16841. Buffers can reduce the ... Agriculture and a list of invasive plants in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Or contact your county USDA service center office for more information. Mechanical methods of weed control are preferable to using herbicides, which are likely to enter the water. Buffers can reduce the ... Agriculture and a list of invasive plants in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Native plants thrive in your local area, are easier to care for, and provide an excellent food source and habitat for local species of wildlife. FAQ: Click to open Program Guidelines: Click to open Eligible Applicants: Local governments in Pennsylvania, non-profits and educational organizations. As part of the Chesapeake Bay Program, the state has committed to help restore riparian buffers on Pennsylvania waterways. advisory committee (PDF) has been established to assist with advice and information. There are a number of community and conservation organizations working to establish and maintain buffers. service forester (PDF) for your area. The DCNR Riparian Forest Buffer Program provides reimbursable grants to organizations to establish riparian forest buffers. Although geared toward forest managers, it still provides useful information for all landowners. Pennsylvania has three hardiness zones (5-7), so make sure that the plants you choose will tolerate your particular location. A majority of Pennsylvania’s streams are … Stream Releaf database. Each zone has a different mixture of trees, shrubs, or grasses; the composition and the width of each depends on the size of the water body, the intensity of upstream land use, the wildlife benefits desired, and other factors. • For further help in identifying and controlling noxious and invasive plants, you can refer to Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s Pennsylvania Field Guide: Common Invasive Plants in Riparian Areas This grant is first come first served. In addition to wildlife needs, many other factors influence buffer design. U.S. Department of Agriculture/NRCS/Farm Service AgencyThis web site has information on all the programs listed below. Pennsylvania’s Buffer Initiative . It is recommended that fencing be placed a minimum of 25 feet from the edge of the stream bank. Technically known as riparian forest buffers, they serve as a transition from land to water. Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources. The program involves state-federal partnerships that focus on high priority environmental concerns. A total width of 25-50 feet from the stream's edge is usually the minimum suggested as an effective buffer for bank stabilization and water quality control, but most wildlife require wider buffer widths. Consider native plants that are available from local growers and nurseries, and avoid invasive species. The vegetation here helps to absorb excess nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, preventing them from entering the water. Planted as grassland or a mix of grasses and wildflowers. The amount of preparation your site will need depends on prior land use, the stream bank's condition, and other factors. § 102.14. It’s best to get advice from someone who is familiar with riparian maintenance and restoration. For example, a small stream with minimal inputs from adjacent land use may require only a small Zone 1 to improve aquatic habitat, while a larger water body with intense adjacent land use might require larger areas of each of Zones 1-3 to provide water protection and wildlife habitat. If improving water quality is a purpose of the riparian buffer, do not plant evergreens in the two rows nearest the streambank; this applies to both sides of the stream, if both are buffered. For areas near the stream bank, choose species that will completely shade the stream when they reach full height. A riparian buffer is an area of vegetation that is maintained along the shore of a water body to protect stream channels and banks. Migrating birds find insects and fruits on shrubs and trees during stopovers. Pennsylvania Native Plant SocietyWeb site lists native plant sources in the state. (See table below) If possible, plant species that are tolerant of full sun first and save understory or shade plants until after the first plantings have become established. That is the conclusion of Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences researchers, who compared the impacts of six riparian buffer design scenarios over two, four-year crop rotations in two small central and southeastern Pennsylvania watersheds. Do Hellbenders, Freshwater Mussels, and Native Brook Trout Matter? View our privacy policy. Proudly founded in 1681 as a place of tolerance and freedom. Birds like the alder flycatcher are likely to be found only near streams with a thick understory of shrubs, whereas the pileated woodpecker can be found in nearly any type of mature riparian forest, as long as large trees are available for nest cavities. RIPARIAN BUFFER GUIDELINES. For example, the pileated woodpecker and the scarlet tanager are likely to be found only in large expanses of forested riparian habitat (greater than 500 feet total width), whereas the hairy woodpecker and red-eyed vireo may be found in somewhat smaller forested buffers (150 feet total width). While it would be hard to create a buffer with a particular species in mind, there are many things you can do to improve the overall quality of your riparian buffer. Riparian buffers offer many benefits for wildlife, but they also improve water quality for humans. The belted kingfisher uses over-hanging branches to forage for fish. Larger trees like red oak supply acorns for mammals and waterfowl during the fall. Weed control may be necessary for the first few years as trees and shrubs become established. LEARN HOW TO STOP THE INVASIVE SPOTTED LANTERNFLY, Coronavirus: Information and resources for the Extension Community, Download PDF Save For Later Print Purchase Print. Riparian Buffer Systems; Visitor Survey; Suppliers of Plants and Seeds; Species That Benefit; ... the U.S. Forest Service Northeastern Area has a list entitled Eastern Resource List for Native Plants. Many organizations are willing to donate time, money, seedlings, and expertise toward your project. As you increase the size of your riparian buffer, the more opportunities there are for runoff to be intercepted by trees, grasses, and shrubs, and the benefits generally increase as the total size of the buffer increases (up to around 100 feet). Other mammals, like the mink, look for expanses of riparian forest with scattered down trees, which provide shelter near streams and ponds. ... Additionally, as part of a 1994 Chesapeake Bay Program agreement signed by the Governors of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and an Executive Council Member from Washington D. C., Pennsylvania has agreed to restore 600 miles of forested streamside buffer by the year 2010. Natural Resources Conservation Service Stream Visual Assessment Protocol Bat Conservation International, Inc.Provides help on constructing bat houses and information on how to attract bats to your property. To give your buffer a head start, plant native wildflowers, shrubs, or trees. Some things to consider are the following: During the first growing season, newly planted trees and shrubs need water at least once a week until they become established. Before starting any project, check with these sources and with your county extension office and county conservation district office to make sure the project is appropriate for existing zoning regulations. The riparian area can be either native vegetation or managed improved vegetated species with harvestable crops. Eligible land must be set aside for at least 10 years. DCNR service foresters (PDF) and county conservation districts. Where ecologically correct, riparian buffers can not only be environmental strongholds, but also harvestable and productive. This fact sheet provides the information you will need to create an effective riparian buffer for wildlife while protecting water quality for everyone. POLICY: This policy provides guidance and procedures for meeting the Maintaining and restoring buffers is a key strategy for improving water quality and aquatic habitat in Pennsylvania. What lives in the stream is the best indicator of a stream's health. A good riparian buffer provides food, shelter, water, and breeding sites for birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. These plants control erosion and help filter and keep water clean. In this way the riparian forest buffers assist in genetic interchange with other local populations. When planning your buffer, it is best to work with someone who is familiar with riparian restoration. Riparian buffers filter pollutants before they enter waterways, help to stabilize eroding stream banks, and provide many other benefits to aquatic ecosystems. Your riparian buffer should be monitored and maintained regularly at first, and then periodically as the buffer becomes established. If placed within or near a forested setting, boxes are more likely to attract birds such as the tufted titmouse. Two of the buffer scenarios included the harvesting of switchgrass and swamp willow trees. Through much of North Park, the Sacony Creek’s riparian buffer is a healthy forest with many layers, which include large canopy trees, small subcanopy trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants. Pennsylvania has more than 86,000 miles of rivers and streams. A riparian buffer is a permanent area of trees and shrubs located adjacent to streams, lakes, ponds, and wetlands. This zone is usually a managed forest or mixed forest shrubland. Avoid mowing from April to July when birds may be nesting there. How it helps Maintaining a buffer distance of at least ten (10') feet on either side of the stream will protect the vegetation and the species of fish, reptiles, and amphibians. A study of 16 streams in Eastern Pennsylvania found 200-800 times more nitrogen reached streams in non-forested areas than those in forested areas. Large, flood-tolerant trees like willow or black birch if planted along your stream bank help to shade the water, keeping water temperatures cool. There is the potential to plant products such as nuts, berries, woody florals, forbs, and woody biomass in the appropriate buffer zones. §§ 691.1—691.1001 and regulations at 25 Pa. Code Chapters 92(a), 93, 96 and 102. Trees like the river birch are hosts for butterflies like the tiger swallowtail. A small patch of riparian forest will not attract the same diversity of wildlife as one made larger by being connected to additional habitat of the same type. This person can help you consider all that is necessary to make the best decisions given your land, time, and money constraints. USDA studies show that riparian buffers reduce nitrogen from agricultural runoff by 68 percent. There is no match required. While you can leave your riparian buffer alone and allow it to regrow naturally, without additional preparation or plantings a good buffer is likely to take much longer to establish. Other crops you can grow and harvest include black cherry (specialty wood), exotic mushrooms (e.g., shiitake), or herbal plants (e.g., ginseng). Along ponds and lakes, bullfrogs, green frogs, cricket frogs, and American toads lay their eggs in the shallow waters and then use upland riparian areas for foraging and shelter. Boxes placed near grassy areas and open fields (they can be near a forested edge) attract both bluebirds and tree swallows. Fish depend on a good aquatic habitat, and a stream without a riparian buffer is not likely to support good fish populations. Stream bank fencing can be used along a riparian buffer to help keep livestock from walking near and through a stream, thus preventing water pollution, bank erosion, and excess sedimentation. Plants for Riparian Buffers Reduced water pollution Intercepts surface runoff and filters sediment Research has shown that riparian vegetation can remove up to 90% of unused nitrogen from croplands Protection from flood Slows flood water velocities Absorb water flows and energy Our watershed conservation staff regularly undertakes riparian restoration projects. In addition, many local organizations can furnish volunteers to help replant riparian areas. Branches falling into the stream can provide structure as well as hiding places for small fish and insects. The DCNR Riparian Forest Buffer Program provides reimbursable grants to organizations to establish riparian forest buffers. The DCNR recently announced a new stream buffer program , urging 10,000 Pennsylvania landowners who live along the state’s streams, creeks, and rivers to plant native trees near the water’s edge. A riparian buffer is land next to a river, stream, or creek that is usually vegetated with trees or shrubs, and acts as a protective filter for the river system. The Pittsburgh Redbud Project is a community forestry initiative to increase urban riparian tree canopy while highlighting the ancillary cultural and aesthetic benefits. Landowners and farmers with waterways on their properties can improve water quality and wildlife habitat by planting stream buffers. Excessive amounts of pesticides, fertilizers, and animal wastes from farms, lawns, and roadways can seriously disrupt an aquatic system. All plantings are done by hand and plants can be bare-root, livestakes, and/or small (approximately 1-3 year old) potted trees and shrubs all native to Pennsylvania. In buffers, it’s a good idea to consider As described more fully below, Act 162 eliminates the mandatory requirement of a 150 foot buffer between new real estate development and waterways that are classified as Special Protection Waters in Pennsylvania. 2018-2021 Multifunctional Riparian Buffer Sub-grant Program. Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural ResourcesPublishes a brochure, "Landscaping with Native Plants," which lists some plants native to Pennsylvania and their site preferences. Hummingbirds use certain wildflower species for nectar. By entering your email, you consent to receive communications from Penn State Extension. BMP 6.7.1: Riparian Buffer Restoration. $2.7M effort to help landowners plant tree buffers across upper, middle James River watersheds From staff reports Dec 1, 2020 17 min ago ... Riparian buffer trees, … Identification of Common Noxious and Invasive Plants in Riparian Areas Japanese Knotweed, an invasive plant, is common along waterways. Squirrels, turkeys, ducks, and deer take advantage of the acorns from oak trees. Secondary cavity-nesting birds (those using cavities already created), like the bluebird, tufted titmouse, and great-crested flycatcher, may eventually use these sites. RIPARIAN BUFFER PRESERVATION The growing body of scientific evidence documenting the beneficial role of riparian buffers in protecting water quality has led to action by conservation groups and governmental bodies to preserve existing buffers. Since 2016, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has planted thousands of trees and complementary plant material within the viewshed of downtown Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental ProtectionPennsylvania's Stream Releaf ProgramAs part of the Chesapeake Bay Program, the state has committed to help restore riparian buffers on Pennsylvania waterways. Buffers are designed or managed for multiple benefits. Many small mammals use downed hollow logs or brush piles for cover or nesting sites. Natural Resources Conservation ServiceStream Visual Assessment ProtocolThis protocol helps landowners to assess visually the condition of their streams. Zone 3 may need to be mowed periodically to keep it as a grassy-herbaceous patch and prevent it from becoming overgrown with shrubs. Pennsylvania has more than 86,000 miles of rivers and streams. Connecticut River WatershedProvides a useful 10-part fact sheet series, "Riparian Buffers for the Connecticut River" and details many aspects of riparian buffers for residential and agricultural landowners. A riparian buffer is an area of vegetation that is maintained along the shore of a water body to protect stream channels and banks. Where sedimentation is a problem, a greater portion of the total buffer may need to be planted in grass, which will more effectively slow and trap sediment. Some landowners use riparian buffers for supplemental economic benefits as well. Larger nest boxes situated within more mature wooded areas can attract the great-crested flycatcher. 197 Nursery Road. This zone also helps slow runoff and allows it to recharge the groundwater supply. DCNR Bureau of Forestry at Small mammals generally require 20-30 feet of buffer, while amphibians can require anywhere from 10 feet to 300 feet. In particular, many butterflies and moths use certain native tree species as host plants. You may be trying to access this site from a secured browser on the server. Riparian buffer areas are capable of retaining more than 300,000 pounds of sediment per acre per year. The DCNR recently announced a new stream buffer program, urging 10,000 Pennsylvania landowners who live along the state’s streams, creeks, and rivers to plant native trees near the water’s edge. The program publishes a handbook containing lists of resources that can help you in planning your buffer and places to look for money and technical advice.