Buffer Strip Deadline Closing In

Farmers still looking for ways out of buffer strip requirements

By Jill Fennema –

The deadline for complying with the Minnesota Buffer Law is approaching. The deadline for public waters, which includes rivers and streams, is Nov. 1. Public waters require a strip of non-tillable land covered with perennial vegetation. This strip must be an average of 50 feet from all streams and rivers. The minimum buffer allowed is 30 feet.

The buffer law was created and designed by Governor Mark Dayton and legislators with the intent to protect water resources.

In 2015, when Governor Dayton introduced the buffer strip legislation, he said, “The strengths of my proposal are its simplicity and common sense. People have the right to follow lawful practices on their private properties; however, they should not have the right to contaminate waters that all of us depend upon.”

“Protecting this relatively small amount of acreage, lying along our waterways, has the potential to significantly improve water quality for drinking, fishing, swimming, and other everyday uses. It is our best and simplest strategy to protect our waters for this generation, and the generations of Minnesotans who come after us.”

Buffer strips are designed to help filter out phosphorus, nitrogen, and sediment by slowing runoff and trapping polluted sediment. Buffer strips then allow vegetation to absorb any pollutants, preventing them from entering the water supply. Statewide, the governor’s proposal would require that 125,000 acres of land adjacent to water be designated for buffer strips, and covered in permanent vegetation.

What does that mean for local farmers? It means that some of the land they have been planting as row crops will not be planted that way next growing season. Some affected farmers have already begun the process while others will wait until after the 2017 harvest is complete.

For the complete article, please see the September 20th edition of the Edgerton Enterprise. If you do not currently receive the Enterprise, CLICK HERE for information on how to subscribe!

The bright blue line indicates where buffer strips will be required in the area around Edgerton. A full map can be viewed at http://arcgis.dnr.state.mn.us/gis/buffersviewer/.