The Catskill Streams Buffer Initiative (CSBI) is a partnership program between New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and county Soil & Water Conservation Districts within the NYC Catskill/Delaware Water Supply Watershed. CSBI has been encouraging landowners to get involved in streamside stewardship since 2009. Continue reading below to learn more about GCSWCD’s CSBI opportunities available to streamside landowners within the Schoharie Reservoir watershed.
The Catskill Streams Buffer Initiative (CSBI) is a free native planting program created to provide landowners with personalized assistance to protect and improve their streamside, or riparian areas.
The CSBI program cultivates strong and resilient riparian buffers using vegetation native to the Catskill region. If your streamside area is lacking adequate vegetation, the CSBI program is available to help you transition your streamside area into a healthy, forested, riparian buffer. When you restore or enlarge your forested riparian buffer, water quality improves and local communities benefit.
At GCSWCD, the CSBI program is offered through the Schoharie Watershed Stream Management Program (SWSMP) at no cost to streamside landowners within the Schoharie Reservoir watershed (see map on right). During a site visit, experienced program staff will assess the condition of your streamside area, identify any potential project areas, and propose recommendations to enhance or restore your streamside property.
What is a riparian buffer?
Riparian buffers are the vegetated areas located next to streams and other waterbodies that grow naturally with little human interference. The healthiest buffers usually include vegetation that is a diverse mix of native grasses, shrubs, and trees. This vegetated zone serves as a buffer to pollutants entering the stream from runoff and, when established, helps to minimize erosion.
The health of a stream depends on many factors including the surrounding land and forest cover. Planting native trees and shrubs next to streams is the best way to restore areas lacking healthy riparian vegetation. There are many benefits to creating or increasing the size of a riparian buffer. These benefits include:
- Improved water quality: Riparian buffers serve as natural biofilters, protecting aquatic environments from polluted surface runoff. They can reduce nutrients (e.g., nitrogen and phosphorous), pesticides, and other chemicals from entering the stream by decreasing the flow of runoff and allowing water to soak into the ground (infiltration) or be absorbed by the plants, which are able to naturally break down some of these pollutants.
- Stabilized streambanks: Native plants form extensive root systems that help hold the soil in place, reinforce the strength of your streambank, and slow the process of erosion.
- Increased wildlife habitat: Riparian buffers help provide food and shelter for aquatic and terrestrial wildlife living in and around streams.
- Water temperature control: As the trees and shrubs mature and grow taller, they are able to provide shade over the nearby stream, which helps to regulate the water temperature. Riparian buffers can even have a significant impact on moderating the effects of climate change on aquatic ecosystems, particularly in our headwater streams.
- Groundwater storage and reduced flooding: Forested riparian buffers absorb rainwater and encourage infiltration of stormwater by slowing the speed of the water running off the land and increasing the amount of water that is absorbed into the ground. Groundwater enters the stream at a much slower rate than surface water, which helps control flooding and maintain stream flow throughout the year.
The wider the forested riparian buffer extends from the water’s edge, the more effective it is at improving water quality, stabilizing streambanks, and providing valuable wildlife habitat.
What does the CSBI program at GCSWCD offer?
At GCSWCD, the CSBI program provides the following at no cost for streamside landowners within the Schoharie Reservoir watershed:
- Technical expertise
- Site-specific buffer designs to establish new plantings
- Installation of locally-sourced native plant materials
- Follow-up monitoring on all planting projects to ensure their success
Who should contact GCSWCD about the CSBI program?
Any landowner with streamside property within the Schoharie Reservoir watershed who wants to restore or enlarge their riparian buffers is encouraged to reach out to GCSWCD’s CSBI Coordinator.
Are you a streamside landowner with property within the Schoharie Reservoir watershed, but unsure if the CSBI program is right for you? Try answering the following questions:
- Are your streambanks showing signs of erosion?
- Do you have a mowed lawn or a single row of trees next to your streambank?
- Do you have new or small populations of an invasive species (e.g., Japanese knotweed) that was recently introduced to your property?
- Are you interested in learning new techniques to maintain the health of your streamside area?
- Are you interested in learning how native trees and flowering shrubs can protect your streamside property and attract birds and pollinators?
- Would you like help developing a site-specific streamside planting plan?
If you can answer “YES” to any of the questions above, you might benefit from contacting the
What are some examples of streamside planting projects available through the CSBI program at GCSWCD?
Some examples of streamside planting projects available through the CSBI program at GCSWCD include:
- Tree and shrub planting to revegetate sensitive streamside areas lacking native vegetation.
- Native seed establishment to reduce streambank erosion and create a pollinator-friendly landscape.
- Installation of live plant material such as native willow cuttings to stabilize and protect soil.
- Removing invasive species within the riparian buffer area to restore and increase native species diversity.
For more information about CSBI, or to request a site visit, please contact GCSWCD's CSBI Coordinator:
- View the CSBI program brochure (leaves GCSWCD website) on the Catskill Streams website.
- For more information about the CSBI program and to view CSBI contact information for other locations within the NYC Catskill/Delaware Water Supply Watershed, visit the CSBI webpage (leaves GCSWCD website) on the Catskill Streams website.