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Riparian Forest Buffer

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The DCNR Riparian Forest Buffer Program provides reimbursable grants to organizations to establish riparian forest buffers.

Guidance Documents


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Grant Instructions and Guidance Documents

Project Criteria Question Instructions


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Eligible Applicants:  County or Municipal Government, Higher Educational Institution, Other Educational Institution, Non-profit with 501(c)3 IRS Status and Non-profit with PA Bureau of Charitable Organization Status.

Eligible Activities:  Landowner outreach, buffer design, site preparation and buffer installation, plant materials and tree shelters, and short term maintenance (within the 4-year grant period). Projects can propose conventional or multifunctional (income-producing) riparian forest buffers. Multifunctional buffers refer to a riparian forest buffer that includes both native riparian forested trees and shrubs as well as harvested products such as berries, woody florals, biomass etc. The multifunctional buffer concept was designed to appeal to a broader set of landowners, provide greater program flexibility, address long-term maintenance issues, and allow landowners to reap a modest income from their buffers. Additional specifics about the concept are provided on DCNR buffer webpage.

Project Requirements:  All buffers must include a minimum 15-foot-wide no-harvest zone next to the streambank of native tree and shrub species (zone 1) with additional acreage dedicated to conventional or multifunctional buffer plant species (zones 2 and 3). Applicants are strongly encouraged to implement an average buffer width of at least 35 feet.  Applicants who undertake a buffer project must be willing to enter into a landowner agreement with each participating landowner for a minimum of 25 years. The agreement will address maintenance requirements among other considerations.

Grant Details:  Minimum grant award of $50,000. 50/50 match required.   DCNR reserves the right to negotiate with applicants on the final award amount, acreage and scope of work.

DCNR service foresters will be available to provide technical assistance and advice on communications and outreach efforts, buffer design and species selection, and maintenance practices; they can also participate in partnerships and watershed-level projects.