Riparian buffers are the vegetated areas along rivers, streams, creeks, and other waterways. These areas are the single most effective means of protecting water resources throughout the Chesapeake Bay. Waterways protected by a healthy riparian buffer are cleaner, cooler, and provide better habitat for fish, wildlife, and livestock than a stream with exposed or un-vegetated banks.
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Planting riparian buffers along native trout streams is a priority for the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) and Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR). Many of the headwater streams of the Upper Rappahannock watershed support Eastern brook trout, the only trout species native to Virginia. Most of the brook trout streams in the Headwater Stream Initiative region are in Rappahannock and Madison Counties.