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DEC now accepting applications for annual 'buffer in a bag' program


Fri, Mar 1st 2024 11:40 am

Free seedlings available to qualified landowners for streamside plantings

Submitted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced the application period for the agency’s “buffer in a bag” opens today. The program supports Gov. Kathy Hochul’s 2024 State of the State commitment to plant 25 million trees by 2033 to invigorate New York state’s tree-planting efforts, advance steps to meet the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act’s net-zero goal, and grow the state’s vital forest products industry.

"Planting along streams creates woodland buffers that are critically important for keeping soil in place, slowing floodwaters, intercepting pollution, and providing food and shelter for wildlife," Seggos said. " ‘Buffer in a bag’ participants are helping to advance New York state's efforts to achieve our statewide 25 million tree planting commitment and reforest riparian areas, making these areas more resilient to severe weather impacts."

Qualifying private and public landowners may apply for a free bag of 25 tree and shrub seedlings for planting near streams, rivers or lakes to help stabilize banks, protect water quality, combat climate change, and improve wildlife habitat.

To qualify, landowners must have property in New York state with at least 50 feet bordering a stream, river or lake. Previous recipients are encouraged to reapply to continue to build riparian buffers. Applicants are eligible for one bag of 25 seedlings. Recipients are chosen on a first-come, first-served basis. A total of 250 bags will be available statewide during this round of applications.

Seedlings are provided by DEC's Colonel William F. Fox Memorial Saratoga Tree Nursery. The “buffer in a bag” program is managed by DEC's division of lands and forests and supported by the state's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). Governor Kathy Hochul's 2024-25 Executive Budget sustains the EPF at a historic $400 million.

The application period closes at 3 p.m. April 17, or when supply runs out, whichever comes first. Visit DEC's website for more information about the “buffer in a bag” application process and requirements.

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