Riparian Forests For Landowners Program

The DOF Riparian Forests for Landowners (RFFL) program provides flexible, no-cost riparian forest buffer installation and one year of maintenance to landowners. The program is being implemented by DOF and partner organizations in a unique watershed-based partnership.

Funding is provided by the Inflation Reduction Act through the USDA Forest Service and the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Water Quality Improvement Fund Act.


This program is open to private property owners including property/homeowner’s associations or civic leagues in rural, urban or suburban areas.

Funding and Requirements

This turnkey program covers the planning, site preparation, planting and one year of maintenance for riparian forest buffer plantings.

  • Buffers may be pine, hardwood or a mix of both.
  • Buffers must be at least 35 feet wide and no greater than 300 feet wide per side from the water’s edge.
  • Land must have less than 20% coverage by invasive plant species to qualify for this program.
  • The landowner must agree to retain the buffer as forest for 15 years.

Buffer Planting Location

Buffer can be installed on open land adjacent to a water feature where a forested buffer of at least 35 feet in width from the water’s edge can be planted. An existing buffer may be expanded up to 300 feet from the water’s edge.

The water feature may be any of the following bodies of water:

  • Streams
  • Rivers
  • Lakes, ponds and reservoirs/municipal water supplies
  • Seeps and springs
  • Karst features
  • Sloughs
  • Wetlands
  • Water features within wetlands
  • Fresh and saltwater marshes
  • Irrigation ditches, canals and other man-made water features

To Apply

DOF will accept continuous sign-ups for this program until funding is depleted. Eligible projects will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis with planned implementation from fall 2024 to spring 2025 and follow-up maintenance support through 2026.

Complete this survey-style Landowner Interest Form and a DOF forester or representative from one of our partnering organizations will reach out to you. You may also reach out directly to the DOF Watershed staff contact below.

Apply Here


Thank you to our partners who are assisting with implementation of buffer projects for this program:

  • Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay
  • Friends of the Rappahannock
  • James River Association
  • Terra Habitats LLC
  • York River Steward

A variety of financial assistance programs are available through DOF and partner agencies for forest management activities to help protect water quality.

Explore All Financial Assistance Programs

Additional Resources

ImageTitleIDDescriptionContent TypeViewhf:tax:document-categoryhf:tax:Media
Riparian Forests for Landowners Program – Providing Flexible, No-Cost Forest Buffer Installation
Riparian Forests for Landowners Program – Providing Flexible, No-Cost Forest Buffer InstallationFT0066

Forestry topic information sheet provides information about the Riparian Forests for Landowners program for private landowners, including objective, eligibility, funding and requirements and how to apply.

Viewfinancial-assistance-water-quality water-quality watershedpublication

Contact Us

DOF foresters can assist you with your forestland and financial assistance options available. Contact your local DOF forester.

For more information or questions, e-mail us, (434) 220-9024 or use our contact form.