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Buffer in a Bag

The 2019 Buffer in a Bag application period began February 13, 2019.

Through the Buffer in a Bag initiative, NYS DEC's Trees for Tribs Program and Saratoga Tree Nursery provide landowners with a free bag of bare-root trees and shrubs to enhance the streamside area on their property. Each bag of seedlings is made up of a variety of native trees and shrubs chosen specifically to improve streamside areas in New York by supporting wildlife and improving water quality.

Who is Eligible

Anyone who owns or manages at least 50 feet of land along a stream or waterbody in New York State is eligible to receive a free bag of seedlings. Properties with 50-99 feet of streamside land are eligible for one bag, and properties with 100 or more feet are eligible to apply for two bags. Applicants must provide photos and information indicating where the trees will be planted. There is a limited supply and recipients are selected first-come, first-served so please sign up today! Not sure if your site fits this criteria? Contact the Trees for Tribs program by calling (518) 402-9405 or emailing treesfortribs@dec.ny.gov.

What is Included

Each bag includes 25 bare-root native tree and shrub seedlings, approximately 1 to 2 feet in height. All species are well-suited to streamside conditions and are tailored to be native to your region of New York State (see a map of regions here). The species for each region are*:

  • Long Island Packet (DEC regions 1 & 2):
    • Bayberry, beach plum, eastern red cedar
  • Hudson/Delaware Watershed Packet (DEC regions 3 & 4):
    • Red osier dogwood, wetland rose, elderberry, river birch, red oak
  • Northern NY Packet (DEC regions 5 & 6):
    • Red osier dogwood, balsam fir, white spruce or hemlock, wetland rose, pussy willow
  • Western NY Packet (DEC regions 7, 8 & 9):
    • Sand cherry, winterberry, silky dogwood, red oak, northern white cedar

*Species selection is subject to change

Each bag also comes with support materials including: a Planting Guide (PDF), Planting Layout Instructions, a Tree Protection Guide, a Maintenance Guide (PDF) and a Maintenance Calendar Checklist (PDF). These guides will help you ensure that your trees and shrubs get off to a good start and receive proper maintenance to increase the probability of creating a healthy riparian buffer for flood resiliency, wildlife habitat and improved water quality.

How to Apply

Landowners or groups interested in applying should submit an application (PDF). Please email your completed application to treesfortribs@dec.ny.gov. Applications can also be mailed to:

Attn: Trees for Tribs Coordinator
625 Broadway, 5th Floor
Albany, NY 12233-4250

Applications must be submitted by 3pm on Wednesday, April 3, 2019. Buffer in a Bag kits are limited and recipients are selected first-come, first-served, so apply early! If you have questions, please email treesfortribs@dec.ny.gov or call the Trees for Tribs Program at (518) 402-9405. Plants will be available in late April or early May.

Recipients should expect to be contacted in roughly 5 years to submit progress pictures of your buffer's growth and to provide information about the success of your streamside buffer.

Planting Guidance

The trees and shrubs must be planted within a riparian area (along a riverbank, adjacent to a stream or creek, or along the shore of a pond or lake). This can include an area within a floodplain or within 300 feet of a stream. The planting area should not be separated from the stream by a road, structure, storm water pond, or other man-made feature that would prevent the buffer from functioning. Stormwater ponds, drainage ditches, or other man-made structures are not eligible.

Plants will be available in late April or early May and must be planted or put into cold storage within one day of being received.