Riparian Buffer Project

Riparian buffers are the most valuable protection a stream system has against outside influences.  This buffer can help stop pollutants from entering a stream from runoff, controls erosion, and provides habitat and nutrient input into the stream. Enhancement of the riparian buffer by re-planting native grasses, shrubs and trees is the first step in the recovery of the stream back to a more natural condition.  More than 50% of the banks along the Dan River and its tributaries have none to low buffer. 

Riparian Buffer:

  • Provides organic material as food for invertebrate, fish and wildlife
  • Supplies large and small pieces of woody debris that provide habitat for fish, invertebrates and amphibians
  • Alters how sunlight reaches the stream and is an important temperature moderator
  • Stabilizes stream banks and reduces erosion
  • Filters sediment and materials from overland runoff and roots of many plants traps and holds the sediments
  • Absorbs nutrients from overland and sub-surface flows
  • Reduces the impacts of flooding through temporary storage, interception and slow releases from heavy rains. 

There are five riparian buffer demonstration sites you can visit to see first-hand how they can help protect our waterways:  

  1. YMCA in Danville, VA protecting the Dan River
  2. Camilla Williams Park, Danville, VA protecting the Dan River
  3. DeHart Park in Stuart, VA protecting the Mayo River
  4. Smith River Greenway in Eden, NC protecting the Smith River
  5. Beaver Creek Reservoir in Martinsville, VA protecting the Smith River 
  • Protecting Our Waterways
    Look for signs like this at the demonstration sites to learn about different types of buffer.
  • Camilla Park Before
    Camilla Williams Park before riparian buffer
  • Camilla Park After
    Camilla Williams Park after buffer planting

Protecting Our Waterways


Dan River Riparian Buffer Assessment

The Riparian Buffer Guide gives property owners a step by step guide to planting riparian buffer.  The Guide highlights buffer types and tips for protecting the water quality in our region.

Riparian Buffer Native Plant Guide for Virginia