Healthy waters offer swimming, fishing, relaxing scenery and fun for everyone. But as shorelines are built up, local waters are often damaged. Replacing native vegetation with lawns and pavement can allow stormwater runoff to carry pollutants into the water. These alterations also harm fish and wildlife habitats that are essential to aquatic ecosystems.
The Massachusetts Buffer Manual has clear guidance about the many benefits of maintaining and restoring vegetated buffers beside streams, lakes and ponds. It is intended to help people look at waterfronts in a new way and it explains how these buffers will sustain healthy waters. It provides many examples of shore landscaping that create a more appealing yard, as well as improve views and access to the water.
Appendix A of this manual describes how polluted runoff enters water bodies and how buffers will capture harmful pollution. It also shows why buffers are vital to wildlife.
Appendix B lists native plants and the conditions under which each plant will grow best.
This 2003 guidance was produced by the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission with funding from the MassDEP Nonpoint Source Pollution grant program. A free download of this handy reference manual is available at http://www.mass.gov/eea/docs/dep/water/bufman.pdf .