Political Support

  • Political support across all levels of government will play a critical role in achieving this outcome. Federal, state, and local leadership must raise riparian forest buffer protection and restoration as a priority and discourage less beneficial practices that compete for riparian space.

Program Management

  • Need for increased coordination at the state level to improve outreach to landowners and greater emphasis on forest buffers as a preferred best management practice.
  • More incentives, technical assistance and education is needed to encourage landowners to establish and/or permanently protect their buffer.
  • Landowners need flexibility, funding, and more assistance with issues like maintenance in their buffer programs; states are considering a Natural Filters Restoration Program to address these needs.

  • Simplified and streamlined cost-share program application and implementation process, clearer communication needs.

Agricultural Factors

  • While Farm Service Agency’s Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program is a very important tool for putting in buffers, all federal programs together could not meet the buffer needs declared in state Watershed Implementation Plans. Additional support for state programs is needed.
  • Fewer agricultural lands and unwillingness to sacrifice acreage especially when commodity crop values spike.
  • Reluctance from landowners to commit to putting forest buffers in place if land will be transferred to the next generation.

Scientific and Technical Understanding

  • Greater understanding and targeting of where riparian forest buffers would be the most beneficial.