Conservation Minnesota

Fall 2017 Newsletter: Minnesota’s Buffer Law

We have a strong connection to water in Minnesota, but protecting our lakes, rivers, and streams for fishing, swimming, and drinking isn’t easy. One way to reduce pollution is to plant vegetative buffers around waterways. These buffers protect waterways from runoff pollution by filtering out contaminants before they enter the water. Buffers also stabilize shorelines to prevent erosion and protect riparian corridors.

The buffer law will play a critical role in protecting and restoring water quality across the state.

On November 1st the new buffer law goes into effect, requiring buffers or alternative water quality practices on all public waters. Conservation Minnesota and our members advocated for this bill and have worked to defend it. During this past legislative session changes and clarifications were made to the original bill, passed in 2015, including alternative practices shown to protect waterways and a Riparian Protection Aid Program to fund local government’s buffer law implementation and enforcement. Also, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture must certify new seed mixes to prevent contamination of Palmer amaranth or other noxious weeds.

By late-summer, the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) issued preliminary reports that show 89% of land requiring buffers is in compliance with the new law. With Minnesotans from across the state working together, our lakes, rivers, and streams are on track to be better protected.

You can learn more at: mn.gov/portal/natural-resources/buffer-law.

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