The use of riparian land buffers to protect water quality for human consumption and wildlife habitat has become an important conservation tool of both government and non-government agencies. The funds available to acquire private lands for riparian buffers are limited, however, and not all land contributes to water quality goals in the same way. Conservation agencies must therefore identify effective ways to allocate their scarce budgets in heterogeneous landscapes. We demonstrate how the acquisition of land for a riparian buffer can be viewed as a binary optimization problem and we apply the resulting model to a case study in New York.
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