The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has published Streamside (Riparian) Forest Buffer Guidance which outlines recommendations for the restoration and protection of buffers.

DOCUMENT NUMBER: 394-5600-001
TITLE: Riparian Forest Buffer Guidance
EFFECTIVE DATE: November 27, 2010
AUTHORITY: The Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law P.L 1987, Act 394 of 1937, as amended (35 P.S. 691.1 et seq.)

Average Streamside Forest Buffer Minimum Widths

Regardless of other factors, 100 feet (50 feet Zone 1 and 50 feet Zone 2) is the average minimum riparian forest buffer width that DEP recommends for regulatory, voluntary, and grant activities. This width applies to perennial or intermittent streams, rivers (minimum 100 feet on both sides of the stream or river), lakes, ponds, and reservoirs (Wenger, Review and Mayer, Riparian).

The average width should be extended to a minimum of 150 feet (50 feet Zone 1 and 100 feet Zone 2) along perennial or intermittent streams, rivers (minimum 150 feet on both sides of the stream or river), lakes, ponds, and reservoirs designated as Exceptional Value or High Quality waters (Sweeney, Streamside; Meyer et. al, Rivers, and Mayer, Riparian).

The width should be extended on a case-by-case basis in areas known to be sources of sediment and in areas of known high nutrient content or where fertilizer, manure, or animal waste or sludge application occurs. The width should be extended in areas where there are steep slopes or soils of very low permeability or high erosion potential, steep stream gradients, or anywhere that specific goals, conditions, and evidence are interpreted to indicate that additional width is needed to achieve the desired environmental functions and benefits.

Resources

For more information, click for the PA DEP Riparian Forest Buffer Management Plan Toolkit.

PA DEP also added buffer requirements to the revised Erosion and Sediment Control and Stormwater Management regulations.  Click here to view regulations in 8/21/10 Pennsylvania Bulletin

See also How Can I Help Protect Streamside Buffers?

Forests and Drinking Water

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