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Funding from the Vermont DEC helps landowners improve water quality by planting riparian buffers through Trees for Streams program

For Immediate Release

Contact: Luke Rackers, Communications Coordinator, VACD

Waitsfield, VT, May 26, 2017: This spring, Vermont’s Natural Resources Conservation Districts (NRCDs) have planted trees on over 20 acres of buffers on streambanks and shorelines throughout the state to help protect water quality through the Trees for Streams program. This is the fourth year of the state-wide program, which has been supported by three consecutive Ecosystem Restoration Program grants totaling $390,511 awarded to the Vermont Association of Conservation Districts (VACD) by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Over the past four years, over 60 acres of riparian buffers have been installed throughout Vermont through the Trees for Streams program, planting over 22,000 trees on nine miles of riverbanks and shorelines.

Buffers give rivers and streams the critically needed space to maintain their natural, dynamic condition. They provide protected forested zones designed to increase shade, restore stream habitat, and trap and remove nutrients, sediment, pesticides, and other chemicals from surface water runoff, including phosphorus, which scientists believe is responsible for the toxic algae blooms in Lake Champlain and elsewhere in the Vermont. Due to their water quality benefits, the establishment and maintenance of buffers on farms is one of Vermont’s Required Agricultural Practices. The Trees for Streams program provides landowners and communities with a low-cost option to install riparian buffers on their land, including farms, private residences, schools, recreation areas and river corridors damaged by Tropical Storm Irene.

The connectivity and quality of riparian buffers is a key priority for Conservations Districts around the state through the Trees for Streams program. Conservation District staff work closely with private and public landowners to ensure the integrity and continuity of projects through careful planning, training, design, and coordination. Buffers are planted on stable streambanks, and tree species are carefully selected to be consistent with each local ecosystem. Plantings are carried out by both paid crews and volunteers, including students, landowners and community members interested in protecting and improving water quality, flood resilience, wildlife habitats and the Vermont landscape.

The funding provided by DEC for the Trees for Streams program has been supplemented by thousands of hours of volunteer labor from community members, the support of technical specialists, and financial contributions made by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the VT Department of Forests Parks and Recreation, and other contributors for streambank restoration programs. Over the past four years, Conservation Districts have leveraged over $115,000 in partner contributions to match DEC’s investment.

VACD’s partnership with the DEC has helped to create a statewide Trees for Streams program that plays a vital role in protecting rivers, engaging communities, improving water quality and flood resilience, and enhancing wildlife habitats. Conservation Districts utilize technical staff, community support, and landowner contributions creating a unified effort to improve water quality for Vermonters.


VACD is the statewide association of Vermont’s 14 Natural Resources Conservation Districts. Conservation Districts were created throughout the United States after the Dust Bowl era of the 1930’s and 40’s to help landowners and communities enhance soil health, protect water quality, and support the viability of the working landscape. Vermont’s Conservation Districts promote clean water through education and agriculture, forestry, watershed protection, and urban conservation programs. Conservation Districts utilize technical staff, organizational partnerships, community support, and landowner contributions creating a unified effort to conserve and protect natural resources for Vermonters. Find out more online at