Who wants free trees?

Buffer in a Bag, the New York State streamside protection initiative, is back. Any landowner with at least 50 feet of streamside property can apply to receive 25 free tree and shrub seedlings. It's all in an effort to help prevent erosion, improve water quality, and create habitat for wildlife along their stream.

Anyone who qualifies will be selected on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last or until the program ends on April 11.

Trees for Tribs has been working to reforest New York's tributaries - small creeks and streams that flow into larger rivers and lakes. The program's goal is to plant trees and shrubs along streams to create a forested riparian (streamside) buffer that helps decrease erosion, reduce flooding damage, improve wildlife and stream habitat, and protect water quality.

Importance of Streamside Buffers

Trees, shrubs, and grasses along waterways create a natural buffer that protects the water and provides many benefits.

  • Slows down and filters runoff, preventing pollutants from getting into the water
  • Intercepts and slows water from heavy rains, reducing flooding
  • Shades streams, creating cooler temperatures to support fish
  • Holds soil in place, preventing streambanks from eroding away
  • Provides food and habitat for wildlife
  • Who Qualifies

Anyone who owns or manages land with at least 50 feet along the water in New York is eligible to receive a free bag of seedlings. Organizations or individuals with permission to plant on the property also qualify. Only one bag per property is allowed.

Program Requirements

  • Seedlings must be planted along the bank of the water
  • Photos need to be submitted after the seedlings have been planted and after five years
  • You must agree to care for the seedlings for the first several years

To receive your free trees, you must fill out the Buffer in a Bag application. You can also download a paper application and mail it to:

NYSDEC, Division of Lands and Forests
Attn: Trees for Tribs Coordinator
625 Broadway, 5th Floor
Albany, NY 12233-4250

25 bare root seedling kits of wetland rose, pussy willow, ninebark, winterberry, and red oak will be mailed out from late April to early May.

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