Buffer updates mean flexibility
This November, local farmers are subject to the deadline for buffers on public waters.
The law, signed in June 2015, requires a 50 foot average, 30 foot minimum buffer on public waters and a 16.5 foot minimum buffer on public drainage systems, such as public ditches. This will create around 110,000 acres of year-round plant coverage bordering waterways in Minnesota.
While this is still true, there were a few new bills signed during the recent legislative session updating the law, that will give farmers more flexibility.
The overall goal for the buffer systems is to help keep stormwater and pollutants from entering public waterways. This will help keep lakes, rivers and drinking water cleaner. Landowners who do not comply with the new laws could face fines up to $500.
The Carver Soil and Water Conservation District (CSWCD) has been working with local farmers to help get their properties in compliance with the new law by the November 1 deadline.
Though, after the recent legislative session, a few changes were made to the law that could provide more flexibility.
Mike Wanous, the district manager for the Soil and Water Conservation Department(SWCD) said that legislatures had heard farmers express concern that the timeline was too quick. They also said that there are spots where buffers just aren’t needed.
Wanous said that there are some cases where farmers did not build their buffer because they were waiting to hear happened after this legislative session.
“There were a number of bills that would have changed the dates of the deadline,” Wanous said.