KEYC - Local Government Talks Buffer Strip Law

Local Government Talks Buffer Strip Law

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A local government roundtable on buffer strips tries to provide clarity on Minnesota's new law.

Just last year Governor Mark Dayton signed the buffer initiative into law in an effort to protect Minnesota waters.

The decision now requires a 30 feet buffer minimum on public waters, and a 16 and a half buffer on drainage systems.

The Department of Natural Resources just released a map showing which landowners the new law affects.

"The major point within the law is if the water body is identified on that map, then a buffer or alternate practice is required, and if it's not on that map, then there isn't a requirement, so that becomes the document people need to look at if they need to do something under this law," said Thomas Gile, Buffer and Soil Erosion Program Coordinator for the Board of Water and Soil Resources. 

Starting next November, buffers will have to be in place on all public water, while buffers on public drainage systems don't have to be in place until November 2018.

Local government officials and those from the soil and water conservation district gathered for a discussion to clarify the new law.

"There's a lot of discussion about this being a one size fits all program, but there are a lot of flexibilities that we're trying to build into the program in terms of local entities working again variable with buffers, and the option to elect jurisdiction at the local level or the state would be the enforcing entity should the local entity choose not to do it," said Gile. 

If a landowner does find out a buffer is needed, there are financial assistance opportunities available.

"There are some options out there, there is some CRP options, some of the rates right now if you can get into CRP are akin of rental rates for the next 10–15 years it might be something worth looking into," Douglas Goodrich, District Manager at the Brown County SCWCD. 

"The main point of contact and the first person you're going to want to talk to is someone at your local SCWD office because they're really the boots on the ground and often have those positive working relationships with landowners at the local level," said Gile. 

To view the map, you can visit http://arcgis.dnr.state.mn.us/gis/buffersviewer/

-KEYC News 12