Stream Wise Resource Library

Photo: LCBP

In order to develop a regionally responsive Stream Wise Award Program that encourages private property owners to adopt and promote stream buffering protection and restoration practices on their property, this resource library was developed to enhance the understanding of the resources related to stream buffering or other riparian protection practices. We have created and organized this library as follows:

Marketing and Communications Resources

As part of Phase I of the Stream Wise project, The Image Farm and Greenleaf Design produced a collection of resources and assets for Stream Wise partners to use in marketing and communicating about the initiative.

View and download the Stream Wise Marketing and Communications Resources →

Stream Buffer Literature Review

  • Terminology
  • Benefits
  • Best Practices
  • Buffer Zones
  • Buffer Widths
  • References

This document is not meant as an exhaustive academic literature review of all possible stream buffering or riparian restoration practices, but rather a foundation to serve as the basis for Program Outline development as a reference point for existing regulations, programs, and practices potentially available to incorporate in Stream Wise. Stream Wise Program development will avoid overlap, communicate existing resources, and fill the gaps needed to support riparian landowners to be good stewards of streams and rivers.
An Excel-based database, with embedded hyperlinks to relevant online documents, is the foundation for this summary.
Read the full Resource Library summary document →


The following information is organized by jurisdiction in the tables that follow.

  • Regulatory Requirements
  • Voluntary Incentives
  • Funding for Restoration
    • For Non-Commercial/Agricultural/Forestry Related Properties
    • For Commercial/Agricultural/Forestry Related Properties
  • Technical Assistance
  • Assessments

For state/provincial details, skip to:
Vermont | New York | Quebec


Resource NameAgency / OrganizationAudienceLinkSummaryFunding or Financial Incentive?Vintage
GUIDANCE FOR AGENCY ACT 250 AND SECTION 248 COMMENTS REGARDING RIPARIAN BUFFERSVT Agency of Natural Resources (VT ANR)Developers, Businesses, LandownersHereMinimum recommended riparian buffer width for streams is 50' or 100' (depending on stream characteristics & includes intermittent streams)
Characteristics typically include protection of channel and floodplain stability, protection of aquatic and terrestrial habitat, and protection of water quality (various factors under each)
Distance is typically measured from top of bank or slope
Contiguous wetlands can be included in 'stream' area and buffered accordingly
Riparian Management Plan may be used in developed areas in lieu of minimum buffer
Act 64 - Agricultural Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program - Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs)VT Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets (VT AAFM)AgricultureHereBuffer requirements
Manure spreading - can't occur within 100' of top of slope of stream if field slope is greater than 10%
10' on ditches
25' on surface waters (natural)
25' on surface inlets (tile drains or other)
Buffers can be harvested or grazed but no tilling or fertilizer/compost/manure spreading
Animals must be buried 150' - 200' away from surface waters
Livestock must be excluded (except for defined crossing points)
Manure/waste storage must be 200' away from streams
VT Department of Forest, Parks, and Recreation – Acceptable Management Practices (AMPs) for forestry operationsVT Dept. of Forest, Parks, and Recreation (VT FPR)ForestryHereForest Buffers related to forestry operations must be:
50' (0-10% slope)
70' (11-20% slope)
90' (21-30%)
110' (31-40%)
Riparian Management Guidelines for ANR LandsVT ANRVT ANR HereSimilar to Act 250 Requirements
50' buffer for smaller intermittent/perennial streams
100' buffer for larger perennial streams
Municipal Zoning Regulations Various Municipalities, Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT)Developers, Buisnesses, LandownersPDFPrimary aims vary but may include aquatic habitat, water quality and flood resilience. Riparian Zone requirements vary by Municipality. Many municipalities have buffer width requirements and building setback minimums for new construction. Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT) maintains an internal census of municipalities in Vermont that have bylaws and ordinances related to riparian buffers. VLCT also provides model language for stream buffer protection ordinances.NoVarious
Vermont Wetland RulesVT DECVT ANR HereFocus is on Class I and II wetland and wetland buffer protection, but often wetlands are found in the riparian zone. Needs a permit for activities which are not an allowed use within the wetland and buffer zone.No2020
Operational Stormwater Permits - VT Stormwater Management Manual (VSWMM)VT ANR Department of Environmental Conservation (VT DEC)Developers, Businesses, LandownersHereRegulations for larger sites to obtain permits
Simple Disconnection guidance states that disconnection to vegetation should be at least 12' wide (rooftops) or equal to contributing width of impervious cover
Max slope of 15%
Parking lots can not use simple disconnection
Filter Strips / Vegetated Buffers Guidance states that:
Buffer width = contributing area width
Good soils (generally uncompacted)
Max contributing length = 75' (impervious)
Max contributing length = 150' (pervious)
Anything longer than this must have level spreader or other conveyance
Slope max of either 8% (veg buffer) or 15% veg filter strip)
Construction General Permit - Vermont Standards and Specifications for Erosion and Sediment Control (EPSC)VT DECDevelopers, Businesses, LandownersHereAppendix A - Risk Evaluation and Soils Evaluation Tool demarcates construction activities within 50' buffer as requiring some additonal stabilizationNo2020
Municipal Roads General Permit (MRGP) - Better Roads Manual VTRansDevelopers, Businesses, LandownersHereBuffer Zone requirement stipulates min. 50' for streams (100' for lakes)Yes2009
Voluntary Incentives
River Corridor Easement ProgramVT ANR - DEC - Rivers ProgramLandownersHereLandowner sells their river channel management rights within the meander belt width corridor of sensitive and erosive streams
3 Primary Components:
1) Transfer of channel management rights to a land trust
2) No new structures/development within the river corridor
3) A minimum 50 ft. riparian buffer of native woody vegetation whose location floats with the river
Agriculture/silviculture permitted in river corridor easment area
Conservation EasementsVermont River ConservancyLandownersHere"With a mission to “permanently conserve and protect special lands along the waters of Vermont”, VRC works in partnership with landowners, municipalities, state and federal agencies, other conservation organizations and private businesses to accomplish land conservation. The “Conservation Easement” is the most widely used land protection tool available to landowners in the United States. VRC employs this conservation method to protect important lands along the waters of Vermont. Conveyance of a conservation easement protects the land permanently, yet keeps it in private ownership. Easements are flexible and can be tailored to meet a landowner’s needs. Before granting a conservation easement, the landowner works with the VRC to identify specific permitted uses of the property. The easement then limits or prohibits certain activities, including industrial, commercial, and residential development. Conservation easements are designed to conserve the important resource values of each water land property in perpetuity. An easement may cover portions of a property or the entire parcel. It is legally binding on all future owners and will be monitored and enforced by VRC’s Conservation Stewardship Program."Yes
LakeWise ProgramVT DECLandownersHereAward Program for private property owners adjacent to lakes and ponds addressing runoff or other water quality issues related to
1) Driveway
2) Structure & Septic
3) Recreation Area
4) Shore
Also has section 5) Undeveloped Shore
Each has sub-criteria and scoring
Only one award level - Yes/No Award
Clean Water Grants ProgramVT Department of Environmental ConservationPractionersHereVarious funding mechanisms for tree planting projects including
Ecosystem Restoration Grants
Partnership Project Development Block Grant
Work Crew Grant Program Act 76 Restoration Formula Grants (beginning in FY22)
Assistance ProgramsVermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and MarketsAgHerePrograms include
Capital Equipment Assistance Program
Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
Farmstead Best Management Practices Program
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
EQIP-Assist Program
Farm Agronomic Practices
Grassed Waterway and Filter Strip Program
Pasture and Surface Water Fencing Program
The Partners for Fish and Wildlife ProgramLake Champlain Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, USFWSPractionersHereThe Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program provides financial and technical assistance to design and implement riparian habitat restoration projects in Vermont. USFWS staff work with local partners to conduct site assessments and design restoration plans. Restoration plans are designed to benefit fish and wildlife species and are based on the historic natural community associated with the site’s soils with an emphasis on early successional species that will set the stage for a successful transition to a mature riparian community. On average, the Vermont Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program plants 15,000 native trees and shrubs each year.Yes
Riparian Buffer Planting Program & 'Trees for Streams'Vermont Natural Resources Conservation Districts and Watershed United Vermont OrganizationsPractionersHereUmbrella term to describe different programs in Vermont
Various sub-organizations of the Vermont Association of Conservation Districts and Watersheds United Vermont have various versions of this type of program
Funding is obtained through Federal, State, and occasionally private sources
Buffer requirements vary by funder
See below for two examples of riparian planting programs that fall under this umbrella
Riparian Restoration ProgramFriends of the Winooski RiverLandownersHereEvery year, Friends of the Winooski works on multiple site throughout the watershed to plant between 1,500 and 3,000 trees and shrubs. The Friends receive funding for the riparian restoration program from a variety of sources, inluding LCBP, the State's Watershed Grant Program, and the Ecosystem Restoration Program, the Lake Champlain Tributaries Fund (via the Vermont COmmunity Foundation) and Cabot Creamery.Yes
White River River Corridor Protection & Habitat RestorationWhite River PartnershipLandownersHereThe White River Partnership and Vermont River Conservancy conserved 9 acres of river corrdior along the White River through a river corridor easement project. Funding was provided by the VT Ecosystem Restoration Program and High Meadows Fund. The Vermont River Management Program provided assistance on a river corrdior planning process and creation of a River Corridor Management Plan. West Branch and Hurricane Flats riparian restoration projects .No
NR1 Vermont’s Ecology & Environment: An Introduction to Town Planning for Natural Resources./ NR2 Caring for Natural Resources: Taking Action in Your CommunityVT ANRMunicipalitiesHereNR1 exposes participants to the full suite of issues at play for natural resources planning, from forests and wildlife to floodplains and climate change. NR2 helps participants choose locally appropriate land use planning strategies for conserving natural resources. No
LakeWise ProgramVT DECLandownersHereLakeWise has a variety of 1-2 page BMP sheets listed on this website to mitigte water quality issues associated with development adjacent to lakes and ponds. It is important to note that LakeWise is not just a riparian buffering program, but addresses other runoff as well. No2019
Vermont Trees for Streams Resource Guide PractionersHereThe Vermont Trees for Streams Resource Guide is intended for conservation managers whose goal is to properly identify, plan for, and install vegetated buffer projects.Yes2015
VT Guide to Stormwater for Homeowners and Small BusinessesVT DECLandowners and small businessesHereNo specific guidelines for buffers per se but additional guidance for homeowners on installing GSI for homes or small business sitesNo2018
Planting Guidance for the Revegetation of Riparian Areas in VermontVT DECPractionersHereVT-specific planting guide for riparian restoration projects
Contains a species list and sources for native species of plants and trees
Living in Harmony with streamsFriends of the Winooski RiverLandowners and small businessesHereGuidebook produced describing stream processes and how to live adjacent to them while maintaining water qualityNo2012
Creating a Riparian Buffer - Tree PlantingLake Champlain CommitteePractioners, LandownersHereOne pager on creating a riparian bufferNo
Landowners guide to wetlandsVT DECLandownersHereBrochure on how to identify a wetlandNolast edited 2019
Green Stormwater Infrastructure - Simplified Sizing Tool Fact SheetsVT League of Cities and TownsHereNon-rooftop Disconnection to Filter Strips must be minimum 35' with a slope between 1-8%
Contributing area can't be more than 75' (impervious) in length or exceed 5000 sq. ft.
Less permeable soils will require more filter strip area
Biofinder/ Vermont Conservation DesignVT ANRRegulators, Funders, Practioners, MunicipalitiesHereBioFinder is a database and mapping tool for identifying Vermont's lands and waters that support important ecosystems, natural communities, habitats, and species. It features Vermont Conservation Design and was developed by the Agency of Natural Resources and partners to support stewardship and conservation. BioFinder highlights networks of forests, streams and other features that together create the heart and backbone of Vermont's landscape.No2019
Vermont Functioning Floodplain InitiativeVT ANR - DEC - Rivers ProgramRegulators, Funders, PractionersHereVermont DEC and Partners are developing methods and mapping to identify high priority projects to restore and protect stream, wetland, and floodplain functions.No2020
Stream Geomorphic AssessmentsVT ANR - DEC - Rivers ProgramRegulators, Funders, Practioners, MunicipalitiesHereAssessment of stream geomorphology conditions and restoration opportunities.NoContinuous
Tactical Basin PlansVT ANR - DECRegulators, Funders, Practioners, MunicipalitiesHereDescription of water quality conditions and restoration opportuntities for each basin in Vermont. NoContinuous
National Wetlands InventoryUSFWS, VT ANR - DECRegulators, Landowners, Municipalities, Funders, PracticionersHereIncludes an assessment of streams and rivers. ANR has updated the NWI for the Missisquoi basin with landscape position, landform, water flow path, and waterbody data. ANR is currently working on updating the NWI for the Otter Creek, Lewis Creek, and Little Otter Creek watersheds, to be completed by 2022. Novarious 1970-2019
BLUE CertificationLake Champlain International, Lake Champlain See GrantPractioners, LandownersHereBLUE provides residential and commercial property evaluations, stormwater BMP recommendations, and sometimes financial incentives, depending on the town you live in and time you participate. It is a recognition and incentive program, providing free technical assistance in the Lake Champlain Basin. Yes
Storm SmartFriends of the Mad RiverPractioners, LandownersHereFriends of the Mad River provide Storm Smart Assessments to homeowners in the Mad River Valley Watershed to track stormwater runoff on their property and recommend stormwater BMPsNo
Let It Rain Stormwater ProgramChittenden County Stream TeamPractioners, LandownersHereAn incentive program in the Lake Champlain Basin providing technical assistance and funding for Low Impact Development practices. Site assessments, green infrastructure design help, and funding, if available. Yes


Resource NameAgency / OrganizationAudienceLinkSummaryFunding or Financial Incentive?VintageAdditional Resources
Waterways, Coastlines & Wetlands PermitsNYS DECWebsiteTable of permits needed for specific locations and types of projects
Protection of Waters Regulatory ProgramNYS DECHereTitle 5 of Article 15 of the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) , is to preserve and protect these lakes, rivers, streams and ponds. Certain waters of the state are protected on the basis of their classification. Streams and small water bodies located in the course of a stream with a classification of AA, A (drinking source), or B (contact rec), or with a classification of C (non-contact rec) with a standard of (T - trout) or (TS - trout spawning) are collectively referred to as "protected streams," and are subject to the stream protection provisions of the Protection of Waters regulations.

Environmental Resource Mapper (ERM) to identify protected streams
Protection of Waters Regulatory Program: Disturbance of The Bed or Banks of a Protected Stream or Other WatercourseNYS DECHereProtection of Waters Permit required for disturbing bed or bank of protected streams.
Bank = slope adjacent to stream necessary to maintain integrity of watercourse up to 50' away from mean high water line, including area beyond 50' when a generally uniform slope of 45 degrees (100%) or greater adjoins the bed of a watercourse
Some activities exempt (ag crossing, irrigation withdrawal)
NYS Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers System ActNYS DEC & APAWebsiteMany rivers subject to special protection, river corriders general include the land within 1/4 mile of the river,
Rivers/segments designated as wild - no new structures and limited access in corridor, permits needed for cutting and disturbance of vegetation within 100' of mean high water mark;
Rivers/segments designated as scenic - no new structures within 250' of mean high water mark, permits needed for cutting and disturbance of vegetation within 100' of mean high water mark;
for rivers/segments designated as recreational - no new structures within 150' of mean high water mark, permits needed for cutting and disturbance of vegetation within 100' of mean high water mark
MS4 PermitEPA National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)HereRiparian buffers can help meet MS4 permit requirements of minimum control measures:
2 - Public participation (volunteer tree planting, volunteer maintenance)
5 - Management of post-construction site runoff
Stormwater Management Design ManualNYSWebsiteGuidance for SW mgmt practices to comply with state stormwater performance standards, a key component of the Phase II State Pollution Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) general permit for stormwater runoff from construction activities from all sizes of disturbance.
CH. 5 Green Infrastructure Practices, 5.1: Planning for GI: Preservation of Natural Features and Conservation Design
Riparian Buffer Management Zones:
Streamside Zone - min. 25' width + wetlands and critical habitat
Middle Zone - Variable, min. 25'
Outer Zone - min. 25' setback from structure
5.1.2: Preservation of Buffers - guidance to define, delineate, and preserve buffers
5.3: Green Infrastructure Techniques, 5.3.1: Conservation of Natural Areas - Conserved area must be at least 10,000 sq ft, must preserve indefinitely, runoff cannot be directed into the buffer,
5.3.2: Sheetflow to Riparian Buffers or filter strips
Max. contribution length: 150' pervious cover, 75' impervious, sheetflow (up to 3% slope) or level spreader
Sheetflow to Riparian Buffers (fully vegetated):
50' for <8% slope
75' for 8-12% slope
100' for 12-15% slope
no overflow to waterbody
Adirondack Park Agency (APA) ActAdirondack Park AgencyCitizen's GuideWebsiteProtections for certain river corridors, river corriders general include the land within 1/4 mile of the river,
Shoreline cutting (except to remove diseased, rotten, damaged trees) must comply with the following restrictions: (a) Within 35' of the mean high-water mark, no more than 30 percent of the trees
in excess of six inches diameter at breast height (4.5' above ground) may be cut over any 10-year period. (b) Within 6' of the mean high-water mark, no more than 30 percent of any vegetation may be removed.
Any new structure exceeding 100 sq. ft. must comply with min. setbacks from mean high water mark of any waterway: Hamlet - 50 feet, Moderate Intensity Use - 50 feet, Low Intensity Use - 75 feet, Rural Use - 75 feet, Resource Management - 100 feet
Freshwater Wetlands ActNYS DECWebsitePermit required for any disturbance within a wetland, defined as “any land which is annually subject to periodic or continual inundation by water and commonly referred to as a bog, swamp or marsh which are either (a) one acre or more in size or (b) located adjacent to a body of water, including a permanent stream, with which there is free interchange of water at the surface, in which case there is no size limitation.”PDFPDF
Protection of Waters Permit: Excavation or Fill in Navigable WatersNYS DECWebsiteA Protection Of Waters Permit is required for: Excavating or placing fill in navigable waters of the state, below the mean high water level, including adjacent and contiguous marshes and wetlands. Navigable waters include lakes, rivers and other waterways and water bodies on which water vessels with a capacity of one or more persons are operated or can be operated.
Water Quality Certification, Section 401 & 404, Clean Water ActDEC Federal Permit, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE)WebsitePlacing fill or undertaking activities resulting in a discharge to waters of the United States where
Wetland and Watercourse Protection MeasuresNYS Office of Planning and DevelopmentHereNYS DOS prepared a collection of model local laws in consultation with NYS DEC to increase resiliency in face of climate change, as required by the NYS Community Risk and Resiliency Act (2014).
State and federal regulation of streams is limited. New York State regulates the alteration of the bed and bank of “protected” streams. Protected status is based on designation of streams for human uses such as drinking, swimming, or fishing. The beds of navigable streams are regulated by the federal Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE). No state or federal regulation limits development in stream buffers or riparian areas. Many communities use their police powers to protect additional streams and require development setbacks from streams.
Up to local municipalities - Example language for municipal regulation:
Protection of all land within...
100' of perennial stream centerline
50' of intermittent stream centerline
25' of other watercourses centerline
150' of mean high tide mark of tidal river
Riparian Buffer/Shoreline Protection Model OrdinancesGenesee Finger Lakes Regional Planning CouncilHereContains model municipality language for stream setbacks (non-MS4)
Example from Ithaca recommends:
2 Zones - setbacks based on stream size - setbacks from stream center
35-175 acres: total width 35'
175-1500 acres: total width 50'
>1500 acres: total width 100'
Lake George Park Commission Streambank RegulationsLake George Park CommissionWebsite***The LGPC is currently in the process of updating the Stormwater Regulations (public comment period closes November 27th, 2020).
The Stream Corridor Protection Regulations are being developed as a separate regulatory package to meet the intent of the Lake George Law, NYS ECL Article 43. The proposed stream corridor protections are as follows:
- 35’ stream buffer protection/clearing standards, applying to DEC regulated streams
- Standards for stream crossings/culverts that mirror existing updated DEC permit conditions
(See additional resources website for regulation updates).

Regulations protect water quality and groundwater within the Lake George Park.
Section 43-0112 of the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) conveys broad responsibility to the Commission to preserve and protect the lake’s superior water quality. The Commission is required to develop stormwater management regulations, in consultation with each municipality in the Park, subject to the approval of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Adirondack Park Agency (APA). The regulations guide preparation of Stormwater Management Plans (SMPs) and Stormwater Regulatory Programs (SRPs). The Commission’s stormwater management regulations enacted as required by Article 43, are designed to prevent any increase in stormwater runoff from any development in order to reduce flooding, siltation and streambank erosion.
The goal of this program is the protection of water quality. Control of Stormwater runoff after construction and erosion during construction is required for new development projects.

Towns have the option to adopt local ordinances and administer the permit program themselves or to have the Commission administer the program.

It is a violation of the Lake George Park Commission Stormwater Management regulations to maintain a condition which, due to a human disturbance of land, vegetative cover, or soil, results in the erosion of soil into any water body.
Champlain Watershed Improvement Coalition of New York (CWICNY)5 LCB Soil & Water Conservation Districts, Lake Champlain Lake George Regional Planning Board (LCLGRPB)WebsiteGoes beyond political boundaries and incorporates public sector/private citizen partnership to complete projects that benefit the watershed to reduce P loading in Lake ChamplainYes
Trees for Tribs Home PageNYS DECWebsiteSaratoga Tree Nursery program providing landowners, municipalites and conservation organizations with free technical assistance and low- or no-cost native trees and shrubs to plant along streams.
Buffer in a Bag program provides landowners with a free bag of bare-root trees and shrubs to enahnce streamside area on their property.
The Grant Program is for non-profit organizations, academic institutions, and municipalities to conduct large-scale streamside planting projects in New York.
One of their fact sheets recommends min width at 30' up to 100'
Hudson Estuary Trees for TribsThe Hudson River Estuary ProgramWebsiteSupport for streamside plantings in the Hudson Valley. Yes
NYS Trout Streams & RestorationsNYS Council of Trout UnlimitedWebsiteThe Resource Management Team serves over 30 Trout Unlimited Chapters in NYS as they implement TU's Strategic Plan for conservation. YesManuals/Forms
Au Sable River Restoration Program Au Sable River AssociationWebsiteNatural channel design stream restoration projects in the Ausable River Watershed in partnership with US Fish & Wildlife Services and Adirondack Chapter of Trout UnlimitedYes
Annual Tree & Shrub ProgramSoil & Water Conservation DistrictsWashingtonTree, shrub, and other plants for sale at bulk prices to landowners within the counties these SWCDs serve. Orders due in winter (Jan-March) and available for pick up in late April. NoEssexWarren
Stream Stabilization ProgramWashington County SWCDWebsite"The District works closely with farmers, landowners, municipalities, NYS-DEC, and US Fish & Wildlife Service to evaluate and address streambank erosion problems. We provide technical assistance, construction oversight, and in some cases, we can secure funding toward these projects. Possible funding sources include state, federal and private sources, such as Trout Unlimited or the Fish America Foundation."No
Catskill Stream Buffer Initiative (CSBI)Catskill StreamsHereGoal of CSBI is to inform and assist landowners in better stewardhsip of their riparian area through protection, enhancement, management, and restoration through Riparian Corridor Management Plans, BMP design, and educational materialsYes
Upper Susquehanna Coalition (USC) Riparian Buffer Program Upper Susquehanna Coalition (USC)WebsiteProvides technical assistance and funding to landowners in the northern headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay watershed for conservation practices, including riparian buffers. Yes
Conservation Easements & Mapping programsLake Placid Land ConservancyWebsiteThe Lake Placid Land Conservancy conserves land through the donation or purchase of fee lands or perpetual conservation easements, utilizing IRS tax deductibility requirements for the following resource categories: public recreation and/or education, significant natural habitat, open space for scenic enjoyment or pursuant to local government policy, and historic preservation.Yes
Boquet River Nature PreserveThe Nature Conservancy - Adirondack ChapterWebsiteProtects places such as Boquet River in Willsboro, NY, preserving the most intact major tributary draining into Lake ChamplainNo
Stream Buffer Protection for SW ManagementHudson River Estuary Program (NYS DEC)PresentationProvides overview of riparian buffer benefits, BMPs, and NYS funding sources and programsNo2017
Green Innovation Grant Program (GIGP)NYS Environmental Facilities CorporationHereProvides funding for municipal green infrastructure practices, including riparian buffers. Establishment or restoration of floodplains, riparian buffers, streams, or wetlands.Yes
Water Quality Improvement Program (WQIP)NYS DECHereGrant program funds municipal projects that reduce polluted runoff, improve water quality, and restore aquatic habitat. Riparian buffers on non-agricultural land are a priority practice eligible for funding. Protecting existing buffers or funding for restoration, including easement/land acquisition around public surface water sources and buffers for reservoirs. Yes
Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)USDA Farm Service AgencyWebsiteAgricultural landowners are eligible to receive financial incentives to remove streamside farmland from production and convert to grasses, trees, and other vegetation or restore wetlands. Includes payment of annual rent ot farmers and ranchers for 10-15 year contract. Yes2019Info Sheet
Debt for Nature (DFN) ProgramUSDA Farm Service AgencyFarmers with loans from USDA-FSA may qualify for loan cancellation in exchange for implementing conservation practices, like riparian buffersYesInfo Sheet
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service ProgramWebsiteProvides financial and technical assistance to farmers to implement conservation practices, including riparian buffers, on farmland and non-industrial (not used for wood products) private forestlandYes2018
Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program (AgNPS)NYS Dept. of Agriculture and MarketsWebsiteCost-share grant program to help farmers reduce water pollution by providing technical and financial assistance to implement BMPs. Projects incorporating riparian buffers receive prioirity scoring.Yes2020
Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) Base Funding ProgramSoil & Water Conservation Committee WebsiteAgricultural Environmental Management, or AEM, is a cooperative interagency program that provides one-on-one help to farmers to identify environmental risks on their farms. Once these risks are identified, farmers receive help with solution planning and design and with obtaining financial assistance to address existing problems and prevent future ones.Yes
Climate Resilient Farming ProgramSoil & Water Conservation Committee WebsiteProgram grant funds are available for projects that mitigate the impact of agriculture on climate change for greenhouse gas emissions reduction and carbon sequestration, in addition to enhancing the on-farm adaptation and resiliency to projected climate conditions due to heavy storm events, rainfall, and drought. The program is a competitive grant program, with funds applied for and awarded through county Soil and Water Conservation Districts on behalf of farmers in one of three project categories: agricultural waste storage cover and flare for methane reduction, on-farm water management, and soil health systems. Yes2020
Source Water Buffer ProgramClean Water Infrastructure Act (2017)WebsiteAdministered by the NYS Soil and Water Conservation Committee, the program funds the purchase of conservation easements and projects that establish riparian buffers on farmland that borders critical water sources to protect public drinking water and to enhance water quality protection. Yes2017
Soil & Water Conservation Committee Funding OpportunitiesWebsiteYes2020
New York State Funding OpportunitiesGrants GatewayYes
Shoreline Stabilization NYS DECWebsiteRecommendations & potential permit requirements: "soft" or natural approaches to shoreline stabilization are preferred: preserving, planting, bioengineering before hard approachesNo
Shoreline Stabilization TechniquesNYS DECWebsiteDetails bioengineering techniques for shoreline stabilization and restorationNo
Riparian BuffersNYS DECHereLays out clear Zone concept -
Zone 1: 15' wide
Zone 2: 20-60' wide
Zone 3: 15-60' wide
Total: Min. 100'
Managing Invasive Plants in Riparian AreasNYS DECHereIncludes management strategies to contain and remove invasive speciesNo
Wetland and Watercourse Protection MeasuresNYS Office of Planning and DevelopmentPDFRecommended Min. Buffer Width for Common Stream Management Objectives:
Bank Stabilization - 98-164'
Retain N and P to protect water quality - 16-295'
Prevent Erosion (sediment input) - 32-393'
Wildife Habitat - 98-5249'
Flood Mitigation - 65-492'
(Kennedy, C., Wilkinson, J. B., Balch, J., & Environmental Law Institute (2003). Conservation
thresholds for land use planners. Washington, D.C: Environmental Law Institute.)
Ecological BuffersThe Nature Conservancy (TNC) PDFMaintain minimum 330' buffer around freshwater habitats.
Erosion ~200'
Temperature >200'
Flood Control >200'
Organic Matter & Debris ~300'
Wildlife ~1300'
Investing in Improved Stream Crossings Benefits Communities and Natural SystemsThe Nature Conservancy (TNC): Adirondack ChapterPDFThe Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy have created a report about the benefits of investing in improved stream crossingsNo2013Analysis
Shoreline Stabilization Adirondack Park Agency (APA)PDFShoreline stabilization setbacks and approachesNo
NYS Forestry Best Management Practices Field Guide Watershed Agricultural Forestry Council, NYS DECWebsiteTree cutting may not compromise the integrity of the stream bank or negatively impact the function of the Riparian Buffer. Tree cutting within 25 feet of the top of stream bank is prohibited. Any such activity must retain at a minimum 50% of the tree canopy in the Riparian Buffer at all times.
Recommends buffers widths, dependent on slope:
Zone 1: 15'
Zone 2: 35-100'
Rural Roads Active Management Program (RRAMP) Best Practice ManualCWICNY, LCBPPDFFor municipalities located within the Lake Champlain Basin in New York.
Min. 50' buffer for streams
Min. 100' buffer for lakes
Stream Processes: A Guide to Living in Harmony with StreamsChemung SWCDPDF"Well-established vegetation is one of the best long-term protections against bank erosion and channel migration. One study showed that bare banks are 10,000 times more susceptible to erosion than their vegetated counterparts."No
Stream Buffer Protection for SW ManagementHudson River Estuary Program (NYS DEC)PresentationTalks about 3 Zone System
Has widths for various protection measures such as:
Bank stabilization: ~50'
Temp. moderation: ~75'
Nutrient removal: ~125'
Sediment control: ~150'
Flood control: ~200'
Wildlife habitat: 300' and up
^based on Chesapeake Bay Riparian Handbook
Guidance Manual - Homeowners- Downspout Disconnection Rain GardenStormwater Albany CountyHereSizing and design guidance for homeowners on rain barrels & rain gardens
Might be part of larger manual
Riparian Opportunity Assessment Tool - AnnouncementNYS DEC & NY Natural Heritage ProgramHereAnnouncement RE tool to assess riparian buffer potential for sitesNo2018
Riparian Opportunity Assessment Tool - Maps/ToolsNY Natural Heritage ProgramHereWeb page has maps with indicators of riparian health by watershed
Also contains a link to download various riparian buffer GIS geodatabase files
NYSCTU Stream AssessmentNYS Council Trout UnlimitedWebsiteAn in-depth stream assessment manual, including field forms for culverts, stream stability, post flood condition, post flood repairs assessment, and stream visual assessment protocol, among others. Also has a library of problem site example photos. Yes
Catskill Streams Buffer InitiativeCatskill StreamsPDFA Landowner evaluation form for buffer planting projectsYes


Resource NameAgency / OrganizationAudienceLinkSummaryFunding or Financial Incentive?Vintage
Protection policy for lakeshores, riverbanks, littoral zones, and floodplainsGovernment of Quebec - Minister of the EnvironmentDevelopers, Businesses, LandownersHereLaw establishes basic guidelines for buffer zones:
5m minimum where nothing else is possible (small lots under redevelopment)
10m where slope is less than 30% OR slope greater than 30% but river bank less than 5m high
15m where slope is greater than 30% OR slope is greater than 30% with river bank greater than 5m high
All widths measured horizontally from high water mark
Floodplains also protected under variety of national, provincial, and local control
Includes provisions for high and low velocity zones (20-yr and 100-yr flood zones respectively)
Portrait of the Basin - Chapter 'Bandes riveraines' Riparian BufferOBVBMDevelopers, Buisnesses, LandownersHereProvincial law dictates the aforementioned buffer widths
Municipal areas (MRC - municipalite regionale de comte or Municipal Regional County) are adopting their own rules
MRC Memphremagog - no vegetation maintenance within 5m from high water mark (Ligne des hautes eaux)
Indvidual towns have adopted their own regs - e.g. Austin dictates 10m from LHE
Ville de Dunham - no intervention and revegetation of first 3m of the bank
MRC Brome-Mississquoi - no lawn mowing 3m from top of slope (residential) & min. 2m buffer from top of slope for agriculture
Initiative: 2014 le Cadre règlementaire sur la gestion des eaux de
surface et du contrôle de l'érosion (REGES)
2012 - OBVBM & MRC Brome-Mississquoi planted 10,000 shrubs in Frelighsburg, Stranbridge East, Bedford, Notre-Dame-de-Stanbridge, and Pike River
2009 - MRC Brome-Mississquoi and ville de Lac-Brome started a riparian buffer nursery for native plants - 25,000 plants/year - have planted 50,000 so far
MRC Memphremagog - also has low-cost riparian plant program
Mentions now-defunct agro-forestry program in Brochets River basin - Cooperative de Solidarite de bassin
Cadre règlementaire sur la gestion des eaux de surface et du contrôle de l'érosion (REGES)MRC Brome-MississquoiDevelopers, Buisnesses, LandownersHereFor urban areas -
10m when slope is <25% | 15m when slope is >25% & greater than 5m tall
15m outside urban areas
3m from LHE in agricultural areas (if sloped to water course - measure from top of slope)
Bandes Riveraines RulesMRC MemphremagogDevelopers, Buisnesses, LandownersHereMinimum 5 - 7.5m buffer alongside streams and rivers, depending on slope (mowing is also prohibited)
Up to 2m around an existing building can be mowed
Otherwise, the same regulations stipulated by the province apply
Union des Producteurs Agricoles - Operation Bandes RiverainesUPAAgricultureHereEstablishes guidelines for riparian buffers for agricultural production areas - in general:
Minimum of 3m from High Water Line (Lignes des Hautes Eaux)
Various factors can affect how that minimum is measured and determined
Portrait of the Basin - Chapter 'Erosion des berges' (bank erosion)OBVBMLandownersHereEncourages 3 strata for bank vegetation (grass/shrub/tree)
Encourages adoption of 'espace de liberte' which is basically hydrogeomorphic corridor
Specifies bioengineering practices
Guide de Mise en Valeur RiveraineOBVBMLandownersHereGuide for lake and river/stream front landowners to adopt landscaping or other practices that protect water quality2012
Bandes Riveraines Program of QuebecVertQuebecVertLandownersHereQuébecVert, formerly FIHOQ (Interdisciplinary Federation of Ornamental Horticulture in Quebec), has the mission of representing and promoting the ornamental, environmental and food horticulture sector and promoting its growth with a view to sustainable development. with a view to sustainable development. Their Bande Riveraine program has many tools to creating effective riparian buffers. Current
PrimeVertQuebec Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ) supports AgricultureHereThe Prime-Vert program covers mixed wide riparian strip projects (a row of trees / shrubs with herbaceous section) with a width of 5 to 25 meters, measured from the high water mark. Projects of tree or shrub riparian strips 5 to 10 meters wide are also eligible.Yes
Wildlife Habitat EnhancementQuebec Wildlife FoundationAgricultureHereThe Quebec Wildlife Foundation grants financial assistance to projects to protect and enhance wildlife habitats in small and medium-sized agricultural watersheds.Yes
Environment Canada's Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at RiskEnvironment CanadaPractitioners, LandownersHereHereThis program funds projects aimed at protecting the habitats of species at risk as well as projects aimed at preventing other species from being threatened with extinction. This program is aimed at both organizations and individuals.Yes
ALUS Canada ProgramALUS CanadaAgricultureHereALUS helps farmers and ranchers with the restoration of wetlands, reforestation, planting of windbreaks, installation of riparian buffer zones, management of sustainable drainage systems, creation of pollinator habitats and the implementation of other ecological projects on their property.Yes
Protecting shorelines, floodplains, and wetlandOBVBMLandownersHereDescribes general practices for protecting shorelinesUnknown
Shorelines and Health - Public Awareness SignOBVBMLandownersHereLarge format public awareness sign on the value of protecting lake and river/stream shorelineUnknown
Waterline Property Owner's GuideOBVBMLandownersHereInformation sheet for shoreline property owners on lakes regarding lawn/pesticide/other planting practicesUnknown
Biomechanical Stabilization Fact SheetOBVBMLandownersHereInformation sheet for shoreline property owners on lakes regarding various measures to stabilize banksUnknown
Extrait Guide des bonnes pratiques, chapitre 7 Protection des rives, du littoral et des plaines inondablesDéveloppement durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs (MDDEFP)PractitionersHereA guide to bioengineering BMPs for river and stream bank stabilization. 2005
CONTRÔLE DE L’ÉROSION DES COURS D’EAUDéveloppement durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs (MDDEFP) et le ministère des Affaires municipales , des Régions et de l’Occupation du territoire (MAMROT)PractitionersHereChapter from the Guide de Gestion des Eaux Pluviales specifically on controlling erosion of river and stream banks. Unknown
GUIDE DE GESTION DES EAUX PLUVIALESDéveloppement durable, de l’Environnement, de la Faune et des Parcs (MDDEFP) et le ministère des Affaires municipales , des Régions et de l’Occupation du territoire (MAMROT)PractitionersHereStormwater management guide for the province of Quebec (regulatory). Covers application of BMPs (Pratiques de Gestion Optimales (PGO) in French). 2014
Various Publications on Species for Green InfrastructureQuebecVertPractitioners, LandownersHereCurrent
Repertoire des vegetaux recommande pour la vegetalisation des bandes riveraines du Quebec (Directory of plants recommended for the vegetation of riparian strips)QuebecVertPractitioners, LandownersHereComprehensive riparian buffer planting guide for native species in Quebec
Developed with input from FIHOQ, Association Quebecoise des Producteurs en Pepinere (AQPP) and Regroupement des Organisations de Bassin du Quebec (ROBVQ)
Guide de bonnes pratiques Aménagement et techniques de restauration des bandes riveraines (Guide to good practice: Planning and restoratio techniques for riparian buffers)QuebecVertPractitioners, LandownersHereComprehensive guide to planning and planting techniques for riparian restoration (for maritime environments as well)2013
Bandes Riveraines Environnement QuebecPractitioners, LandownersHereQuebec gov't page with links to buffer resourcesCurrent
Virage EauMRC Brome-MississquoiPractitioners, LandownersHereVariety of resources and links to river buffer informationCurrent
Les Bandes Riveraines - Les Especes recommandeesMRC MemphremagogPractitioners, LandownersHereTwo page leaflet describing the type of native species recommended for riparian restoration. 2011

Stream Buffer Literature

Resource NameAuthor / Agency / OrganizationLinkSummaryVintage
Chesapeake Bay Riparian Handbook: A Guide for Establishing and Maintaining Riparian Forest BuffersPalone, R.S. and Todd, A.H
USDA Forest Service
HereForest buffer functions, design, establishment, and management for professional land managers and planners. Leading resource on riparian buffers. Comprehensive resource on buffer zones, functions/values of riparian buffers, determining buffer widths, and site analysis guidance.
Stream Corridor Restoration: Principles, Processes, and PracticesFederal Interagency Stream Restoration Working Group (FISRWG), USDA NRCSPDFComprehensive and in-depth source on stream corridor science and restoration. Includes riparian and stream corridor overviews of biological communities and ecosystems and guidance for restoration planing and design, including riparian buffer strip plant communities. 1998
Understanding the Science Behind Riparian Forests: Effects on Water QualityJulia C. Klapproth & James E. Johnson, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virignia Tech, and Virginia State UniversityPDFMore user-friendly than the large comprehensive USDA handbooks. Similar info as the Chesapeake Bay Riparian Handbook. Good overview of literature concerning negative impacts from lack of buffers and positive benefits of buffers. 2009
A Review of the Scientific Literature on Riparian Buffer Width, Extent and VegetationSeth J. Wenger, University of GeorgiaWebsiteA valuable and comprehensive review of the full range of buffer functions and providing recommendations for buffer width, extent, and vegetation. 1999
Conservation buffers: design guidelines for buffers, corridors, and greenwaysUSDA, USFS, Southern Research StationWebsiteBentrup, G. Asheville, NC
Useful and graphic-heavy overview of all conservation buffers, not just riparian buffers.
Targets to protect for surface runoff (high stem density, plants adapted to sediment buildup), subsurface runoff (roots that intercept, high root biomass), nitrogen (best in wet hydric soils), phosphorus (buffer outside of flooded areas), stream erosion (woody species with deeper roots, plants that will re-sprout)
Conservation thresholds for land use plannersEnvironmental Law Institute (ELI)PDFGood in-depth literature review on buffer width recommendations. Brief and broad overview of riparian buffers. Also includes habitat connectivity, patches, edge effects, and other land use planning thresholds. 2003
Riparian Buffer Zones: Functions and Recommended WidthsHawes, E. and Smith, M.
Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
PDFHelpful guide on walking through the process of determining buffer widths. In-depth literature review of recommended buffer widths with good overview and tables. 2005
Riparian Forest Buffers: Function and design for protection and enhancement of water resourcesWelsch, D.J.
USDA Forest Service
PDFHelpful section on riparian forest buffer specifications2017
Site planning for urban stream protectionSchueler, T.R.
Metropolitan Council of Governments
WebsiteSeminal and highly cited work on stream protection and restoration.1995
Buffer strips for riparian zone managementU.S. Army Corps of Engineers (1991)WebsiteEarly literature review of buffer strips in Vermont. Absract: This study provides a review of technical literature concerning the width of riparian buffer strips needed to protect water quality and maintain other important values provided by riparian ecosystems. Under most circumstances (20 to 30 meter wide [65.6' -98.4']) buffers appear adequate to remove suspended sediments from surface flows. Narrow buffers may also reduce nitrogen levels in surface runoff and groundwater. There appears to be insufficient information available in the literature to formulate a matrix which completely relates appropriate buffer strip width to stream characteristics, upland land use, and riparian functions.1991
The effects of riparian forest management on the freshwater environment: a literature review of best management practiceBroadmeadow, S. and Nisbet, T.R. PDFLeading scholarly article on riparian buffer design and management. This review paper assesses how these functions are affected by the design and management of the riparian forest zone, with a focus on the width of the buffer, the structure of the vegetation and species choice. It is not possible to specify a definitive riparian buffer width that will protect the freshwater environment from every potential threat. Forestry agencies usually recommend widths between 10 and 30 m. Buffer widths towards the lower end of this scale tend to protect the physical and chemical characteristics of a stream, while the maintenance of ecological integrity requires widths at the upper end. In terms of structure and species, the benefits are greatest where the riparian buffer replicates native riparian woodland with an open canopy of mixed species of varied age class. Within the management of riparian woodland there is a need to consider a stream􏰄s sensitivity and intrinsic value. Some sites will benefit from active intervention such as thinning, coppicing or pollarding, while others will be favoured by a hands-off approach. Long-term continuity of management is important to ensure that the potential benefits to the freshwater environment are realised.2004
Design recommendations for riparian corridors and vegetated buffer stripsFischer, R.A. and Fischenich, J.C.
U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center
PDFLeading buffer width recommendation literature. In-depth review of literature on buffer widths and cited impacts and benefits. 2000
River conservation, restoration, and preservation: rewarding private behavior to enhance the commonsSweeney, B.W., and Blaine, J.G. 2016. . Freshwater Science PDFMakes an argument for the need for incentivization to supplement education and legislation in prooting the adoption of BMPs, including conservation, restoration, and preservation practices within rural and agricultural watersheds. Scientific data and technological innovations now make it possible to use incentives such as tax rebates, increased rental paymetns, or better programs for organic certification. 2016
Streamside Forest Buffer Width Needed to Protect Stream Water Quality, Habitat, and Organisms: A Literature ReviewSweeney, B.W., and Newbold, J.D. 2014. PDFA review of literature measuring buffer widths and types of vegetation effects on nitrate removal, sediment trapping, temperature protection, large woody debris production, macroinvertebrate and fish communities habitat, and stream channel width, meandering, and bank erosion. 2014
Riparian Buffers and Corridors: Technical PapersVermont Agency of Natural ResourcesPDFExcellent resource on riparian buffer benefits and best practices in Vermont, including water quality (temperature, sediment, nutrients and other contaminants) and aquatic and terrestrial habitat and natural communities recommendations and information specific to Vermont and in general. Includes table of natural community types associated with rivers and lakes (open upland shores, open wet shores, marshes and sedge meadows, shrub swamps, floodplain forests and swamps). Information on channel stability (evolution, riparian buffer and corridor widths, flood attenuation, streambanka nd shoreline stabilization, ice damage control, and maintaining sediment transport and channel morphology). 2005
Buffers for Wetlands and Surface Waters: A Guidebook for New Hampshire Municipalities. Chase, V., L. Demming, and F. Latawiec.80pp. Audubon Society of New Hampshire PDFExcellent summary tables for recommended buffer widths for riparian functions, recommended minimum buffer widths for wildlife, and wildlife habitat provided by a 100' riparian buffer, buffer widths and pollutant removals, . 1995

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