Riparian Buffer Protection Program

To help protect water quality in North Carolina, DWR has in place riparian buffer rules protecting vegetated areas adjacent to intermittent and perennial streams, lakes, reservoirs, ponds, estuaries, and modified natural streams. The Neuse, Tar-Pamlico, and Catawba Rules were established to protect estuaries and downstream lakes through their buffer nutrient removal function; Randleman Lake and Jordan Lake Rules were enacted to protect water supply sources; and Goose Creek Rules were created to sustain and recover the federally endangered Carolina Heelsplitter freshwater mussel. Information and links provided on this page address applicability of these rules, protection requirements, authorization/mitigation of impacts, and stormwater considerations.  

Essential/Basic Information

Riparian Buffer Rules (including table of uses)
Riparian Buffer FAQs
Helpful Documents
Riparian Buffer Authorizations and Variances

NEW Riparian Buffer Rules, effective June 15, 2020

Affects: Neuse, Tar-Pamlico, Catawba, Randleman, & Goose Creek 
**Jordan rules are unchanged**

Please note, some prior/existing rules were broken out into multiple rules and/or relocated within subchapter 02B. The cross-reference tables linked/shown below provide a reference for prior/existing rule citations and where to find new citations. Additional tools are also provided to help outline major changes as well as unchanged elements in the rules:

Fact sheet 
Overview (more detailed summary of updates)
Detailed Presentation
Cross-reference table (sorted by new as well as old citations)

Current Rule Citation New Citation                                            
15A NCAC 02B .0233 
Neuse Buffer Rules
•    15A NCAC 02B .0714 Neuse Maintenance of Existing Riparian Buffers 
•    15A NCAC 02B .0610 Definitions 
•    15A NCAC 02B .0611 Authorization Certificates 
•    15A NCAC 02B .0612 Forest Harvesting Requirements 
15A NCAC 02B .0241 
Neuse Buffer Rules Delegation
•    15A NCAC 02B .0715 Neuse Buffer Rule Delegation Authority 
15A NCAC 02B .0259 
Tar Pam Buffer Rules
•    15A NCAC 02B .0734 Tar Pam Maintenance of Existing Riparian Buffers 
•    15A NCAC 02B .0610 Definitions 
•    15A NCAC 02B .0611 Authorization Certificates 
•    15A NCAC 02B .0612 Forest Harvesting Requirements 
15A NCAC 02B .0261 
Tar Pam Buffer Rules Delegation
•    15A NCAC 02B .0735 Tar Pam Buffer Rule Delegation Authority 
15A NCAC 02B .0243 
Catawba Buffer Rules
•    15A NCAC 02B .0614 Catawba Maintenance of Existing Riparian Buffers 
•    15A NCAC 02B .0610 Definitions 
•    15A NCAC 02B .0611 Authorization Certificates 
•    15A NCAC 02B .0612 Forest Harvesting Requirements
15A NCAC 02B .0250 
Randleman Lake Buffer Rules
•    15A NCAC 02B .0724 Randleman Lake Maintenance of Existing Riparian Buffers
•    15A NCAC 02B .0610 Definitions 
•    15A NCAC 02B .0611 Authorization Certificates
•    15A NCAC 02B .0612 Forest Harvesting Requirements 
15A NCAC 02B .0251 
Randleman Lake Stormwater Rules
•    15A NCAC 02B .0721 Randleman Lake Stormwater Requirements
15A NCAC 02B .0605 
Goose Creek Buffer Rules: Buffer Widths
•    15A NCAC 02B .0605 Goose Creek Buffer Widths
15A NCAC 02B .0606 
Goose Creek Variance Activities
•    15A NCAC 02B .0606 Goose Creek Authorization       Certificates
15A NCAC 02B .0607 
Goose Creek Buffer Rules
•    15A NCAC 02B .0607 Goose Creek Buffer Types and Managing Activities in Buffers
15A NCAC 02B .0608 
Goose Creek Forest Harvesting Activities
•    15A NCAC 02B .0608 Goose Creek Forest Harvesting  Activities

Buffer Mapping Resources

Riparian Buffer Protection Programs Map (PDF)
NC Riparian Buffer Area Map (Online interactive map)
Randleman Lake Watershed Map  (PTWRA.org)
Most recent published Soil Survey Table
NRCS Soil Surveys for North Carolina (by county)
USGS topographic maps (USGS Store Map Locator & Downloader)

Model Ordinances

Jordan Lake

Buffer Clarification Memos

*Many of the clarification memos listed in the categories below are now incorporated into recent buffer rule revisions. Where a topic discussed in a memo has been incorporated into rule, the rule supersedes the buffer clarification memo. 

Buffer Mitigation DOT and Other Road Projects Ponds, Open Waters and Swimming Pools Vegetation Management/Replacement Diffuse/Dispersed Flow Buffer Location  Utility Lines and/or Easements Applicable Maps Miscellaneous