Archived Story

Riparian Buffers and their importance

Published 9:05am Friday, July 26, 2013

What is the best kind of riparian buffer? The debate continues and there are many schools of thought on the topic. It can get fairly complex, taking into consideration site characteristics such as hydrology, topography, geology, land use and value. However, the basic rule of thumb is the wider the buffer, the better for water quality and wildlife, but even a narrow buffer is better than no buffer. An ideal mountain land buffer consists of a continuous forest along the stream or water body. However, for non-forested land, you could use a two-part buffer: a primary buffer consisting of a forested strip next to the stream or water source, and a secondary working buffer between the non-forested land use area and the forested buffer. This secondary buffer can consist of grasses, shrubs, or additional forest, and would be available for nonintrusive uses such as haying, logging, or taking cuttings for horticultural production.

It is important to remember that sediment, fecal coliform bacteria, and nutrient levels all significantly increase when livestock are kept near a stream. The stream bank and buffer benefit greatly from removing or reducing livestock access in the stream bank buffer.

The Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC) has worked with the state of North Carolina and area landowners to protect countless miles of streams, creeks and rivers in the area, preserving a natural riparian buffer. PAC has also helped to protect thousands of acres of land within the watershed, aiding in the quality of water in our area. Our beautiful waterways are an asset of the community worth protecting and preserving for future generations.

For more information or to discuss how you can permanently protect a riparian buffer on your property or land within the watershed, contact PAC at 828-859-5060 or e-mail,

PAC is a 501(c) (3) non-profit conservation organization (land trust) founded in 1989 to protect and conserve the area’s natural resources (PACs mission). PAC works with area landowners to ensure the long-term protection of their property through voluntary conservation easements (agreements) which enable landowners to maintain ownership of their property, preserving precious natural resources (open lands, forests, wildlife habitat, scenic vistas, farmland, stream banks, etc.), and potentially obtain significant federal, state and local tax benefits. PAC works diligently to provide leadership to encourage conservation and provide education programs emphasizing responsible land use practices to help – save the places you love.

- article submitted by Pam Torlina

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