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:
- 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.
- Stabilize soils with plant root systems.
- Reduce shoreline erosion due to wave action.
- Purify water with aquatic vegetation.
- Improve wildlife and fish habitat by providing food, shelter, and shade.
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