DCNR Riparian Forest Buffer Grant Program

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR)

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Anticipated deadline: Apr 22, 2021 1:00pm PDT

Grant amount: US $50,000 - US $500,000

Fields of work: Habitat & Ecosystem Restoration

Applicant type: Government Entity, College / University, Nonprofit

Funding uses: Project / Program

Location of project: Pennsylvania

Location of residency: Pennsylvania

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Statement of Purpose

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Bureau of Recreation and Conservation (BRC) provides a single point of contact for communities and non-profit entities seeking state assistance to support local recreation and conservation efforts.

The DCNR Riparian Forest Buffer Program will provide financial assistance to identify locations in need of riparian forest buffers and to design, establish, monitor, and provide short-term maintenance for those buffers. This program will also support projects that produce Multifunctional Buffers, a buffer type that provides an opportunity to harvest products such as nuts, berries, woody florals, forbs and potentially woody biomass in addition to the conventional buffer of riparian tree and shrub species.

DCNR will consider a variety of forest buffer project types, including conventional riparian forest buffers and multifunctional buffers. The multifunctional buffer concept has been successfully established in many areas across the nation but is a fairly new idea for Pennsylvania. The multifunctional buffer concept was designed to appeal to a broader set of landowners, provide greater program flexibility, address long-term maintenance issues, and allow landowners to reap a modest income from their buffers. Additional specifics about the concept are provided here.

Multifunctional Stream Buffer Program 

To help Pennsylvania meet the goal of installing an additional 95,000 acres of forested buffers by 2025.

  • Definition: A riparian forest buffer that provides opportunities for harvesting products such as nuts, berries, woody florals, forbs, and potentially woody biomass. Inputs such as fertilizer or manure would not be permitted, and harvesting would not be permitted in the first 15 feet of the buffer from the edge of the streambank. An overall minimum width of 35 feet is recommended. Read more information here.

Applicants who undertake a buffer project must be willing to enter into a landowner agreement with each participating landowner for a minimum of 25 years. The agreement will address maintenance requirements among other considerations.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Eligible Applicants: 
    • Municipality – Any county, city, borough, incorporated town, township or home rule municipality.
    • Municipal Agency – Any official agency created by a municipal government under the laws of the Commonwealth such as municipal authorities, Council of Governments and intergovernmental commissions.
    • Authorized Organization: An entity involved in research, restoration, rehabilitation, planning, acquisition, development, education or other activities, which furthers the protection, enhancement, conservation, preservation or enjoyment of this Commonwealth's environmental, conservation, recreation or similar resources. The organization must be a tax-exempt institution under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (Public Law 99-514, 26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3)) and registered with the Bureau of Charitable Organizations or an educational institution involved in these authorized activities or a municipal authority.
    • Institute of Higher Education
  • Eligible Activities:
    • Eligible projects and project activities for the Riparian Forest Buffer Program are those which involve:
      • landowner outreach,
      • buffer design,
      • site preparation and buffer installation,
      • plant materials and tree shelters, and
      • short term maintenance of riparian buffers (approximately 3 years).
    • All buffers, whether conventional or multifunctional, must include a minimum 15-foot-wide no-harvest zone next to the steambank of native tree and shrub species. Applicants are strongly encouraged to implement an average buffer width of at least 35 feet.
  • Program Requirements
    • All grants require a 50/50 match.
    • To be eligible for reimbursement, project costs must be incurred within the time frame established by the grant agreement and must be approved by the Department.
    • Eligible costs include those directly related to the scope of work as approved by the Department and include:
      • Contracted professional services to perform all or part of the approved scope of work
      • Construction contracts to perform the approved scope of work.
      • Expenses related to the completion of the approved scope of work such as public meeting advertisements, meeting room rental, printing, etc.
      • Organization’s personnel costs to perform all or part of the approved scope of work.
      • Costs related to an independent audit if required.
      • Costs associated with advertising and bidding of a project.
  • Control of Property:
    • The property on which the riparian buffer will be installed must be owned by the applicant or the applicant must have the permission of the landowner to install and maintain the proposed riparian forest buffer(s).
    • Permission can be given through:
      • a legal landowner agreement between the property owner and the applicant that allows for the installation and long term monitoring and maintenance of the buffer;
      • an easement over the property for a term of at least 25 years; or
      • a property lease for a term of at least 25 years.
  • Where public access is provided, the grantee shall insure that no person will be denied access to or use of the site on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, income, national origin, age or sex.
  • All construction must be completed in accordance with all the applicable federal, state and local laws, including but not limited to the Uniform Construction Code (UCC) and the Americans with Disabilities Act.


  • Ineligible costs include:
    • Costs not consistent with the approved scope of work and budget ;
    • Costs for preparation of the grant application ;
    • Costs for fundraising ; and 
    • Costs for public relations, outreach not directly related to project implementation, communications, lobbying or litigation.
  • Recipients of grants, as well as landowners of the project sites, may not remove or destroy the riparian buffers installed as part of the grant-funded project without the prior written approval of the agency awarding the grant.