Stream Health

Forested Stream Buffers

Example of a forest buffer photo Forested stream buffers (strips of forested land along stream banks) are very important to the health of streams for a variety of reasons. They filter nutrients, sediment, and other pollutants from entering the stream, they protect the stream banks from erosion, they slow the flow of water during storm events, they shade the stream and prevent it from getting too warm for sensitive species, their dead leaves and branches provide essential habitat for many stream inhabitants, and many more. Healthy, wide, forested buffers are critical to healthy streams.

One of the most important steps you can take to ensure the health of your stream is to protect the trees that currently buffer your stream and plant more. To help you in this effort, we have mapped the presence and absence of forested stream buffers throughout Maryland (these maps are listed below). Please note that these maps show presence or absence of forested stream buffers. You may notice that there are many areas, particularly along the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, that appear as red. Many of these are functioning marsh and beach buffers. They appear as red because they are not forested, but that does not mean that they are not natural, functioning buffers. Areas mapped in green have a 100 foot wide or wider forested buffer. Areas mapped in red do not. Below are maps to download of forested stream buffers for each County.

Maps of Forested Stream Buffers by County

Anne Arundel Allegany
Baltimore County Baltimore City
Calvert Cecil
Charles Carroll
Caroline Dorchester
Frederick Garrett
Harford Howard
Kent Montgomery
Prince Georges Queen Anne’s
Somerset St. Mary’s
Talbot Washington
Wicomico Worcester