Want to install a forested buffer in the upper James region? Meet Sarah Coffey.

Are you a landowner interested in establishing a forested buffer at no cost to you? Do you live in the upper James River watershed, including parts of Rockbridge, Alleghany, Bath, Highland, and other counties? Just reach out to Sarah Coffey, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s new Virginia Agricultural Field Technician.

Sarah’s job is to connect landowners in the Upper James region with the funding and technical assistance they need to install buffers of trees along streams and rivers on their property. These buffers along waterways absorb and filter pollution, stabilize eroding stream banks, reduce the threat of flooding, shade and cool streams so that native fish like brook trout can thrive, and create habitat and food for wildlife.

This new focus on the Upper James region expands on successful ongoing work already taking place in the Middle James as part of the James River Buffer Program, and is supported by a grant from the Virginia Environmental Endowment. Sarah’s work in the Upper James has a goal of installing 200 acres of streamside forests over the next three years. The program directly pays for all project costs, including design, site preparation, materials, installation, and three years of establishment support. There is no out-of-pocket cost to the landowner.

Through the James River Buffer Program, CBF is working collaboratively to take the model used in the Middle James and bring it to the Upper James. This allows landowners who are interested in buffers to have a one-stop-shop to apply and schedule site visits with technical service providers like Sarah.

Sarah earned her Master’s in Science from Virginia Tech in Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation. Before coming to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, she conducted research on forested buffers and agroforestry adoption and policy for Virginia Tech and worked at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden performing horticulture research.

“For me, it’s really important to first listen to a landowner and find out what their specific needs are,” said Sarah. “Then we can work together to figure out the best way to both support their goals while reaping all of the benefits of forested buffers.”

Landowners in the upper James interested in installing a forested buffer on their property can apply by visiting the James River Buffer Program website at jamesriverbuffers.org/apply. To contact Sarah directly, email her at scoffey@cbf.org or call 860-449-3830.