Stream Buffers

Buffers Matter: Planting forest buffers along stream banks provides critical barriers between polluting landscapes and receiving waterways. Properly planted and maintained, streamside tree and shrub plantings reduce nutrient runoff and sediment deposits; control erosion; improve water quality; reduce flooding; cool stream temperatures; and improve fish habitat. One of the original purposes for establishing the state forest system and the various bureaus that today make up DCNR was to protect forested watersheds.


Buffer Fact Sheets

Riparian Forest Buffers are the trees, shrubs and grasses planted along waterways that help protect water quality. DCNR is piloting a Multi-functional Stream Buffer Concept that provides greater flexibility in landowner eligibility, buffer designs, widths, plant species and offer the option of planting some income-producing crops in the buffer zone.

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DCNR Riparian Forest Buffer Grant Program

The DCNR Riparian Forested Buffer Program is a pilot program that provides financial assistance to identify locations in need of riparian forested buffers and to design, establish, monitor, and maintain those buffers. Applicants are encouraged to consider Multifunctional Buffers as well as conventional riparian forested buffers.



Advisory Committee

DCNR's Bureau of Forestry leads an effort to work with agencies, partners and landowners to expand forest buffers along waterways. This experienced group of practitioners shares what's working on the ground and lessons learned, as well as provides advice about ways to improve and expand the buffer program across the state. Find out who these advisors are and who they represent.


Buffer Resources

Many agencies and non-governmental associations are vitally engaged in protecting our commonwealth waters. Find out about some of these partners through their websites and consider volunteering to help in the effort to buffer our streams! Learn more about the Chesapeake Bay Buffer program, the Penn State Ag. and Environmental Center, the Delware River Keepers Buffer program, and Stroud Water Research Center.



Get Credit for Your Planting

Our current goal is to plant 95,000 new acres of trees by 2025! Did you plant a buffer? Record your success at DEP's Stream ReLeaf statewide reporting site and take credit for your hard work!