A Cleaner Chesapeake Bay: Conservation Buffer Initiative Signups Open Jan. 10

The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) announced that the signup period for its Conservation Buffer Initiative will run from January 10 to February 18, 2022.

This is the second year the Conservation Buffer Initiative has run, aiming to give farmers an incentive to plant streamside buffers to improve the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay. Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Plan includes a goal to plant 63,980 acres of buffers by 2025. As of June 30, 2021, Maryland farmers have planted 52,405 acres of buffers, and that number is expected to grow with the initiative.

According to an MDA press release:

Farmers can receive up to $4,500/acre to install riparian forest buffers with pasture fencing. Financial assistance is also available to install deer fencing along grass buffers. Other features include a buffer option for field ditches, flexible site management, and shorter contract terms.

Here are program highlights:

  • Payment rates range from $500/acre for an existing grass buffer to a maximum of $4,500/acre to install a riparian forest buffer with pasture fencing.
  • Financial assistance is offered to install deer fencing next to grass buffers.
  • Mowing and hay harvesting are allowed; nutrient applications are not.
  • Farmers receive a one-time payment for enrolled land.
  • Contracts are for five or 10 years.
  • All work must be completed by June 30, 2023.

Farmers who want to install new buffers on land adjacent to waterways or improve existing buffers are encouraged to sign up for these grants through MDA’s website by February 18, 2022. For help with applications or questions, please contact your local soil conservation district office.

Learn more about the Conservation Buffer Initiative.

Read the full MDA press release.