Buffer Initiative


In 2000, Washington County adopted its first-ever Land and Water Resource Management Plan. In this plan, a high priority is placed on establishing buffers along its streams, rivers and lakes. To address this priority, the Land & Water Conservation Division has begun the Washington County Buffer Initiative. The goal of this initiative is to 1) increase awareness about the importance of buffers along our waterways and 2) to provide opportunities that will help landowners implement them.

What is a buffer?

Buffers are small areas or strips of land maintained in permanent vegetation. "Riparian" buffers are buffers along streams, rivers and lakes which filter runoff pollutants (sediment, fertilizers, etc.), improve water quality and provide habitat for wildlife.

What is the Washington County Buffer Initiative?

The Washington County Buffer Initiative is a program that offers financial incentives to eligible landowners who want to conserve their soil and water resources by installing practices like riparian buffers, grassed waterways and wetland restorations. As a landowner, you participate by enrolling parcels (up to 150' from a waterway) in the program and establishing prescribed conservation practices. In return, you'll receive financial compensation and technical assistance.

Who is eligible for buffers?

All Washington County landowners may be eligible for the buffer initiative. A site visit conducted by one of our staff with help make the determination if conservation work is needed in this area.

What incentives can a landowner receive?

A number of appealing financial incentives area available to landowners in exchange for setting aside land in buffers. These incentives compensate not only for removing land from production but also help cover the costs for establishing vegetation in the buffer area. The value of the incentives depends on a variety of factors, including buffer size, type of vegetation and length of commitment. Typically, incentives have been anywhere from $500.00/acre and up. Land & Water Conservation Division staff are available to meet with landowners one-on-one to provide specific details and incentives based on individual circumstances.