Virginia landowners offered free riparian buffers & maintenance while funds last

Virginia property owners can have riparian forest buffers installed and for free under the new Riparian Forest for Landowners Program.

The offer, which includes, planning, site preparation, planting, and one year of maintenance is available to private property owners include property associations, homeowner associations, and civic leagues. It’s also available in rural, urban and suburban areas.

Planting Locations

The buffer offered through the Riparian Forest for Landowners Program can be installed on open land adjacent to a water feature where a forested buffer of at least 35 feet in width from the water’s edge can be planted. An existing buffer may be expanded up to 300 feet from the water’s edge.

The water feature may be any of the following bodies of water:

  • Streams
  • Rivers
  • Lakes, ponds and reservoirs/municipal water supplies
  • Seeps and springs
  • Karst features
  • Sloughs
  • Wetlands
  • Water features within wetlands
  • Fresh and saltwater marshes
  • Irrigation ditches, canals and other man-made water features

Program Requirements

  • Buffers may be pine, hardwood or a mix of both.
  • Buffers must be at least 35 feet wide and no greater than 300 feet wide per side from the water’s edge.
  • Land must have less than 20% coverage by invasive plant species to qualify for this program.
  • The landowner must agree to retain the buffer as forest for 15 years.

Applications & Dates

This program is paid for by funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, and administered through Virginia Department of Forestry. DOF said projects will be funded on a first-come first-served basis and sign-ups will be accepted until funding is depleted.

Implementation is slated for fall 2024 through spring 2025 with follow-up maintenance through 2026, DOF noted.

Those interested can apply here or directly contact the local DOF forester for the property, who can be found here.

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