Riparian buffers stabilize stream banks, filter out sediments and nutrients from runoff, and provide habitat for river life. More and more riparian landowners in the Valley are doing their part for water quality by planting these buffers on their lands, and there are an array of cost-share programs available to help with upfront costs. However, in order to survive and provide the benefits for which they are designed, these plantings need care, especially over the first three years of establishment. This care can be an insurmountable burden for landowners, and as a result, many buffers are left unattended and suffer low survival rates. This maintenance burden is also a barrier for landowner enrollment in riparian buffer cost-share programs, which leaves valuable buffer areas unplanted and ripe for allowing polluted run-off to enter our waterways.
Friends of the North Fork, in order to help meet this need of our local landowners and the river alike, is launching the North Fork Riparian Buffer Support Project (RBSP). Volunteers with the RBSP convene on gorgeous local properties and, after an introductory training, check on each sapling in the planting, remove competing weeds from inside their support tubes, right downed tubes and stakes, and remove obvious invasive species from their rows. With even a small team of volunteers, RBSP activities are accomplishing in a few hours what would take an individual landowner a substantial amount of their free time for weeks.
Help us support our waterways and the landowners who dedicate portions of their properties to be part of the solution by joining our Riparian Buffer Support Team.
To learn more about riparian buffers, how they work, and why they are important, check out our recorded lecture: Connections between Riparian Buffers, Water Quality and Fish Habitat given by DOF official, Matt Wolanski and retired Department of Game and Inland Fisheries biologist, Paul Bugas.