Coastal Smart Growth Home: Getting Started: Conservation Buffers


Critical areas are lands designated as subject to additional conservation or management requirements because they are particularly important for the protection of water quality, e.g., wetlands, river banks, or land adjacent to the shoreline (or, sometimes, for the protection of other important resources, e.g., habitat). This tool involves protecting critical areas from development and using them as buffers between natural resources and developed areas.

How to Get Started

Small Communities Critical Areas Ordinance Implementation Guidebook

Guidebook developed by the Washington Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development (now the Washington Department of Commerce) on how to implement Washington's requirement that cities and counties adopt and implement critical areas regulations. The guidebook includes recommended processes, resources, and tools.

Local Government Assistance Guide: Critical Area Buffer

Guide by the Maryland Critical Area Commission to Maryland's Critical Area buffer regulations, including standards for delineating the buffer and various aspects of buffer implementation, maintenance, and enforcement.

Conservation Buffers: Design Guidelines for Buffers, Corridors, and Greenways

Synthesis from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service, Southern Research Station of extensive research on designing buffers. Includes easy-to-understand design guidelines and illustrations.

Model Ordinances to Protect Local Resources: Aquatic Buffers

This section of the EPA Website contains a model ordinance for creating effective aquatic buffers and sample stream buffer ordinances from various parts of the country.