A riparian buffer is the area of land that exists between low, aquatic areas such as rivers, streams, lakes, and wetlands, and higher, dry upland areas such as forests, farms, cities, and suburbs. Unaltered riparian buffers may exist as various types of floodplain forest or wetland ecosystems. The Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) has identified multiple types of distinct natural communities which may occur in Michigan's riparian areas, such as southern floodplain forest, southern wet meadow, emergent marsh, and hardwood conifer swamp.
(Low Impact Development Manual for Michigan 2008)
Key design features consist of three distinct codes:
- Zone 1: Streamside zone extends a minimum distance of 25 feet.
- Zone 2: Middle zone extends immediately from the outer edge of Zone 1 for a minimum distance of 55 feet.
- Zone 3: Outer zone extends a minimum of 20 feet immediately from outer edge of Zone 2.