A riparian buffer is a strip of undisturbed vegetation from 20 to 120 feet wide, located between a water body and either cropland or pasture. On pastureland, riparian buffers will be fenced to exclude livestock from the adjacent water body.
Financial incentives for protecting riparian buffers can be obtained through USDA's Continuous Conservation Reserve program (CCRP) and the Riparian Area Management Program (RAM). CCRP will pay the producer and annual rental rate based on the number of acres enrolled for a ten or fifteen year contract, a one time signing incentive payment and cost share for installing conservation practices including livestock water development and fencing.
Riparian buffers located along shorelines and stream banks can prevent soil erosion, improve water quality by removing sediments, fertilizers, pesticides, and other pollutants from runoff. RAM buffers also enhance fish and wildlife habitat.