Planner’s Portfolio: Riparian Buffers

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The most recent issue in the Planner’s Portfolio series focuses on the importance of Riparian Buffers.

The term riparian buffer describes an area of perennial vegetation that lies adjacent to a body of water. Establishing a healthy riparian buffer provides countless benefits to a community and the watershed at large. Riparian buffers are important for stormwater management, water quality protection, flood mitigation, wildlife habitat, and they even provide economic benefits. Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” guideline to create a buffer due to the unique issues faced in every watershed. The role of the municipality is to encourage restoration and protection of its riparian buffer areas.

Establishing a healthy riparian buffer can be done with the regulatory help of environmental ordinances, zoning, subdivision and land development ordinances (SALDOs). Partnerships with local watershed organizations, universities, and other interested parties can help determine funds and recruit volunteers for riparian restoration.

This document aims to provide municipal officials with background knowledge on the role riparian buffers play in watershed health. Many of the examples shown are local, and may prove to be a model for further restoration throughout the county.

For more information, check out the Riparian Buffers issue or the entire Planner’s Portfolio series.



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Delaware County, presently consisting of over 184 square miles divided into forty-nine municipalities is the oldest settled section of Pennsylvania.


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