Public implementation deadline for public waters nearing

Published 7:30 pm Sunday, October 22, 2017

Minnesota farmers and landowners are making significant progress in implementing the state’s new buffer requirement that goes into effect Nov. 1, according to a press release. Board of Water and Soil Resources Executive Director John Jaschke, along with Minnesota Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson and Department of Natural Resources Assistant Commissioner Sarah Strommen, highlighted the progress that has been made regarding buffer implementation and provided reminders and resources for landowners to meet the buffer requirements.

Minnesota landowners and Soil and Water Conservation districts have been hard at work statewide to achieve buffer compliance.

With under one month to go until the Nov. 1 implementation deadline, statewide buffer compliance on public waters is currently over 94 percent.

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“Thanks to the efforts of Minnesota landowners, we are well on our way to meeting the November 1 deadline to have buffers on Minnesota public waters. Minnesota’s buffer law is designed to be flexible while delivering improved water quality benefits for future generations,” Jaschke said. “We have many great examples of landowners and SWCDs working together to find a solution that works for them and their land.”

Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson thanked farmers and landowners for the work that has been completed to date.

“We want to encourage farmers and landowners to work with their SWCD if they are not able to meet the Nov. 1 deadline to find a solution that works for them and their land,” Frederickson said.

BWSR and the Department of Agriculture have created a number of resources for landowners to help with buffer implementation. Landowners have the option of complying with the law by using alternative practices that have equivalent water quality benefits to buffers. BWSR has put out guidance documents to support landowners identifying alternative practices for their lands. Lands with Shoreland Classification will still be subject to those restrictions. Additionally, landowners who request financial and technical assistance can request additional time to comply with their local SWCD. Landowners can apply for this extension after Nov. 1, but are encouraged to do it before the deadline.

If unable to meet the Nov. 1 deadline, a landowner who commits to a compliance plan with their local SWCD by Nov. 1, will receive a waiver until July 1 to implement their buffer or alternative practice. Landowners cannot apply for this waiver after Nov. 1.

Gov. Mark Dayton signed bipartisan legislation in 2015 to establish Minnesota’s water quality buffer initiative. The effort is designed to reduce phosphorous, nitrogen and sediment from entering Minnesota’s lakes and streams to improve water quality statewide. After receiving additional feedback from farmers and landowners across Minnesota, Dayton signed another bipartisan bill into law in 2016 to provide more flexibility for landowners. With more than 40 percent of the state’s waters polluted or impaired, the need for this initiative is clear. Nov. 1 is the deadline for public waters to have buffers in place.

More information on the buffer program, including more detailed information on alternative practices and the variety of technical and financial assistance available to help landowners with implementation, can be found at For cost share or payment options, see a local SWCD. Many landowners are eligible for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement program and could receive a substantial payment. Landowners should apply soon since acres are limited and they may not be eligible after Nov. 1 if it is on a public water. Freeborn SWCD is offering a one-time payment of $300/acre to get the buffers required by law seeded if those lands are not in another program. Call Freeborn SWCD at 507 373-5607 extension 3 for more info on CREP or the $300/acre cost share.