What is a Buffer Zone?

A buffer zone is an undeveloped area directly adjacent to a body of water. Buffer zones include aquatic plants in shallow water, moisture-loving plants along the shore, and upland plants in dry soils.

In Massachusetts the buffer zone extends 100-feet horizontally outward from the boundary of any resource area and 200 horizontal linear feet outward from the boundary of any river or perennial stream. This area is subject to protection under the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act (Massachusetts General Laws (MGL) 131, Section 40) and its Regulations (310 Code of Massachusetts Regulations (CMR) 10 - 10.60), and the Upton Wetlands Protection Bylaw and its Regulations.

The primary purposes of buffer zones are to:

  1. Reduce runoff by increasing stormwater infiltration into soil. Less runoff means fewer nutrients and other pollutants entering the water - excess nutrients are the primary cause of algal blooms and increased aquatic plant growth.
  2. Stabilize soils with plant root systems.
  3. Reduce shoreline erosion due to wave action.
  4. Purify water with aquatic vegetation.
  5. Improve wildlife and fish habitat by providing food, shelter, and shade.

For more information:

Show All Answers

1. Help! I have beavers! What do I do?
2. What is the Wetlands Protection Act?
3. What should I do if I see someone breaking environmental laws?
4. What can I do to help maintain the health of wetland areas?
5. I have an underground oil tank. How do I prevent leaks and/or deal with spills?
6. What is a Stormwater Management Policy?
7. What is a Flood Zone? Am I in one?
8. What is a Floodplain? Am I in one?
9. What about emergency tree removal?
10. Do I need a permit to cut trees and brush?
11. How do I get a wetland delineation?
12. I’m thinking about buying property. How will I know if there will be wetland issues?
13. How do I know if I have wetlands or other resources?
14. What is a vernal pool?
15. Do I need a permit?
16. What is a Buffer Zone?
17. Why do we protect wetlands?
18. What are the common wetland resource areas found in Upton?
19. What exactly is a wetland?