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Applicants sought for buffer easements along waterways

Published 10:35am Monday, June 9, 2014

Riparian buffers lessen runoff of fertilizer and other chemicals into streams, ditches and other waterways.

The Freeborn County Soil and Water Conservation District is seeking applicants for the 2014 Reinvest in Minnesota riparian buffer easement program.

The program creates vegetated buffers on cropland adjacent to streams and lakes through the purchase of conservation easements. These easements provide permanent protection of natural resources and retain local ownership of the land, according to a press release. The Board of Water and Soil Resources is partnering with Freeborn County Soil and Water Conservation District on this program.

“The buffer program just makes sense for the landowners we work with,” Soil and Water Conservation District Manager Mark Schaetzke said. “They receive financial incentives for their participation in the program and the land they enroll provides permanent protection for the state’s water and wildlife habitat.”

He said it is a great opportunity for both new contracts and landowners with existing Conservation Reserve Program land who would like to permanently take their land out of agricultural production. Landowner demand for this program may exceed available resources, and payment rates have never been higher so interested landowners should contact the Freeborn County SWCD office.

The Soil and Water Conservation District, 1400 W. Main St. in Albert Lea, will help applicants determine whether sites are a good fit for the program. The district staff works with landowners to complete the application materials for submittal to the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources.