Community | Conservation | Diversity | Youth

TU Family Field Trip: Riparian buffer restoration

Riparian buffers are vegetated areas along a stream which shade and cool the water, reduce erosion and filter polluted stormwater runoff.

Editor’s Note: Students across America are unexpectedly home due to the coronavirus outbreak, and the disease it causes, COVID-19. Trout Unlimited wants to help families make the most of the unexpected time together by providing some fun, educational and social distancing-friendly activities in the outdoors. We will be sharing a collection of activities as part of the TU Family Field Trip series. Our first priority is to keep all of our members and friends safe and healthy, so please consider the following article in light of your current state or local government recommendations for activity. If the time isn’t right for you or your family to engage in this activity, save it as an idea for a future date when things have settled and there is a better sense of what lays ahead.

Planting a native tree or shrub along a river is one of the best things you can do to restore and protect the health of the stream for decades to come.

It is also a great activity to do with your kids, as not only is there an immediate and tangible benefit to the activity, but you can also return to visit “your tree” year-after-year to watch it grow.

Getting Started
You can’t just go out and plant a tree without knowing what to plant, where to plant it, and it’s best to connect your effort to ongoing work by TU or our partners in your local community.

Contact your local TU chapter to find out what trees and shrubs are native to your area and where you can buy them. If you don’t have a local TU chapter, or they do not currently have any planting efforts underway, reach out to a local garden club, land trust or watershed association for advice. (Often local nurseries and garden centers will not have native plants, or only ornamental versions of those plants.)

• Ask your TU chapter volunteers if they know of a site where a tree could be planted along a river where there is a current TU project, or a willing landowner. (Often public parks, land trust, town or state lands are great locations to plant trees — just be sure you have permission from the landowner.)

• Read My Healthy Stream, chapter six with your kids to learn about the many benefits of riparian buffers before heading out.

Be sure to plant your in a hole that allows space for the roots to spread, gently pack the soil around it to remove air pockets, and water the new planting to give it a good start.

What You’ll Need
Once you know what type of tree to plant, where you can plant it, and where you can buy them, you’ll need the following items:

  1. A shovel or trowel to dig the hole
  2. A small bucket to water the tree
  3. Gloves, boots and bug spray