Riparian Buffer

Riparian buffer restoration is the process of restoring natural function to the land. In Fairfax County, riparian buffer restoration refers to restoring the land next to streams and rivers by planting native vegetation in these areas. Riparian buffer restoration is a complex process which draws on a huge toolbox from engineering and biology that includes invasive plant removal, native plantings, stream realignment, the selected use of stone or biologs and much more.

Fairfax County is conducting a countywide riparian buffer restoration project in collaboration with volunteers and various partners to mitigate stormwater runoff into local streams and to support the Board of Supervisors' adopted Environmental Agenda. The project was approved by the Board of Supervisors on September 13, 2004. The county and its partners completed a detailed evaluation of the inventory of buffer deficiencies from the recently completed countywide stream physical assessment to develop a prioritization scheme and schedule for buffer plantings.

For more information on the Riparian Buffer Restoration Project, please contact the Stormwater Planning Division, 703-324-5500, TTY 711.

Family planting tree during volunteer planting event.

What You Can Do To Help Protect Streams

Residents, businesses, and organizations can do many things to help protect streams. A few examples are listed below:

  • Volunteer to plant trees and shrubs in the county stream valleys for the riparian buffer restoration project by contacting the Stormwater Planning Division at 703-324-5500, TTY 711.  Learn about additional volunteer opportunities.
  • Volunteer for your local park. View volunteer opportunities with the Fairfax County Park Authority or contact them at 703-324-8750, TTY 711.
  • Plant a tree in your community, neighborhood or home. Choose a native tree suited for this region. Learn more about trees by reading frequently asked questions about trees.
  • Avoid using fertilizer in the spring that can travel in rain and snowmelt to streams or seep underground to pollute groundwater.
  • Don't mow along a stream. Allow natural growth along stream banks to help trap nutrients and sediments and stabilize stream banks from erosion.
  • Plant native plants in your back yard and along stream banks.


Fairfax County is working with several partners to conduct the riparian buffer restoration project. Partners are coordinating invasive plant removals, coordinating native plantings, recruiting volunteers to help plant native trees and shrubs at seven established sites, and managing maintenance of invasive and native plants. The partners include:


For more information on the Riparian Buffer Restoration Project, please contact the Stormwater Planning Division, 703-324-5500, TTY 711.

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