Action by conservation groups and governmental bodies to preserve existing buffers and create new ones has increased in recent years. Retaining existing buffers is the most cost effective method of protecting waterways from runoff, sediment pollution, erosion, and flooding. Several tools are available to guide and limit development in affected areas.
Riparian wetlands offer quality habitat for wildlife while offering space for pollutants to settle before entering streams. Developing and retaining existing buffers allows natural water processes to continue even in highly altered spaces.
There is substantial opportunity cost by taking land out of production and usually the areas with the most need for a buffer are the most productive ones. Even though the land is left untouched, there is often a substantial amount of money that is required to subsidize the creation or preservation of the buffer.
Example 1: Pennsylvania
Description: The Riparian Buffer Preservation document addresses several ways to encourage preservation of wetlands and the best design practices for doing so.
Example 2: EPA
Description: EPA’s clearinghouse for management measures to protect and restore riparian areas. The site has an FAQ section as well as links to guidance documents.
Example 3: Minnesota
Description: The Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) Reserve is a program to accumulate easements for the preservation of wetlands that will reduce impacts of future flooding events.