Riparian buffers are a river's best hedge against erosion and pollution. View our fact sheets for landowners and decision-makers.

Introduction to Riparian Buffers
Backyard Buffers
Forestland Buffers
Buffers for Habitat
Buffers for Agricultural Land
Urban Buffers
Guidance for Communities
Planting Riparian Buffers
Native trees, shrubs, and ground covers
Field Assessment
Sources of Assistance

Introduction to Riparian Buffers ~ Why bother with a buffer? How big should it be? One size doesn't fit all. It depends on what you want the buffer to do. Protect water quality? Welcome wildlife? Stabilize an eroding bank? Explains the benefits of riparian buffers and how to find the right width for your property.


Backyard Buffers ~ Create an appealing riverfront garden while eliminating time-consuming lawn care. Provide your home landscape with beauty, privacy, and watchable wildlife. Gives guidance on what to do even if you have a lawn to the water's edge. Covers access to the water, caring for a buffer, and benefits of native plants.


Forestland Buffers ~ Forests are still the best possible cover for the rivers running through them. Provides illustration of forest management for wooded buffers, special features with habitat value, and how to plan a harvest with buffers in mind.


Buffers for Habitat ~More species of wildlife use the delicate edge between and land and water than any other habitat. This is an area in high demand, however: trout, herons, and turtles face stiff competition from bulldozers, Holsteins, and chainsaws. Explains the benefits of buffers to life in the water and on the land, and shows how to create and manage buffers for habitat. Notes general minimum buffer widths for different kinds of wildlife.


Buffers for Agricultural Land ~ Future-thinking farmers look for ways to leave the land in better shape each year. It makes economic sense to keep nutrients and soil where they belong: on the farm, not in the water. Illustrates a range of buffers and their management: bare-bones, the better buffer, and the best buffer for farmland. Discusses costs and benefits, flood chutes, and livestock.

Guidance for Communities ~ Our most fertile soils, most valuable fish and wildlife habitat, and most expensive real estate are found along rivers and streams: a situation which begs for sensible town policy. Discusses economic, social, and biological services performed by riparian buffers, and ways communities can incorporate both regulatory and non-regulatory protection. Includes ideas for master plan, zoning ordinance, and subdivision regulations, and information on current state-level protection.

Urban Buffers ~ Cities and towns all over America are recapturing their river fronts. Such a natural amenity is a key to economic growth and quality of life. Provides advice on restoring lost buffers, enhancing those remaining, disguising buffers as community parks, planning for recreation, and dealing with stormwater.


Field Assessment ~ Is there a riparian buffer already on duty? Is it adequate for the job? A field sheet to help a landowner look at a riverbank with buffers in mind. Provides a list of considerations to help the landowner decide where and what kind of buffer might be needed.

 Planting Riparian Buffers ~ How do you turn a bare riverbank into a buffer that works for clean water, stable banks, fish habitat, birds, and wildlife? How to establish a riparian buffer: plant selection, sources of material, economically valuable plants, plants for problem visitors such as deer and beaver; invasives to avoid.

 Native trees, shrubs, and ground covers with their growth needs, wildlife food and habitat value, use for bank stabilization, and ornamental qualities.

Sources of Assistance ~ Because riparian buffers benefit rivers, their inhabitants, and their neighbors in so many ways, many experts and programs are ready to help a landowner who wants to add or improve a riparian buffer. Description of programs providing funds for buffer installation and for land conservation. Contact information for agencies offering technical assistance and advice to NH & VT landowners and communities.

Call 603-826-4800 for more information or to order printed versions of these fact sheets (free of charge; small fee covers postage and handling.)