Landowners have new options to meet buffer law requirements

Almost $5 million is now available to support landowners in meeting the requirements of Minnesota’s buffer law. The buffer cost-share program funds were approved at the June meeting of the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR). These Clean Water Funds, passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Dayton at the end of the 2017 legislative session, provide important support to the Governor’s Buffer Initiative.

The funds will be distributed to soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) and are to be used for cost-sharing contracts with landowners or their authorized agents to implement riparian buffers or alternative practices on public waters and public drainage ditches.

“We are pleased to be able to offer landowners cost share to install buffers,” said District Manager Tiffany Determan. “Our board has agreed to pay 75 percent cost share up to a maximum of $200 per acre to install the required buffers”

The 2017 legislation also recognizes that some landowners may have hardships (such as weather) in meeting the public waters deadline. The added language allows for an eight-month extension for implementation when a landowner or authorized agent has filed a riparian protection “compliance plan” with their local SWCD by Nov. 1, 2017. Compliance waivers offer a buffer deadline extension until July 1, 2018.

The state buffer law requires a buffer on public waters by Nov. 1, 2017 and a buffer on public drainage ditches by Nov. 1, 2018.

For more information on the buffer law, including the cost-share program, contact Tiffany Determan, Isanti SWCD District Manager at 763-689-3271 or visit the BWSR webpage at www.bwsr.state.mn.us/buffers.