Conservation Minnesota

Our support of the buffer law

As Policy Manager for Conservation Minnesota, I monitor current issues that affect the Minnesota you love. Part of that work involves officially commenting on proposed rules or pending decisions with various state agencies.

I recently wrote a letter to the Minnesota State Representatives Dan Fabian and Paul Anderson expressing Conservation Minnesota and Audubon Minnesota’s support for the buffer law.

January 18, 2017

Representative Dan Fabian
Chair – Minnesota House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee

Representative Paul Anderson
Chair – Minnesota House Agriculture Policy Committee

Dear Chairs Fabian and Anderson,

Thank you for your leadership and your concern for the quality of Minnesota’s lakes, rivers and water resources. We write to you in expectation of the joint meeting between your respective committees scheduled for Thursday, January 19, 2017, to discuss the buffer law.

Conservation Minnesota and Audubon Minnesota support the buffer law, as well as, a fair, efficient and comprehensive implementation of the law. The Board of Water and Soil Resources, along with help from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, have developed buffer implementation guidance documents, buffer compliance and tracking tools, and buffer resources for local governments. These tools and resources all contribute to a fair, efficient, and comprehensive implementation of the law. The history of local governments that already utilize buffers as a best management practice will help ensure a smooth implementation of the buffer law.

The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program recognized the importance buffers play in preventing erosion and runoff, and farms certified in the program will be deemed in compliance with the buffer law. It is important to note that Minnesota companies, like Land O’Lakes (a cooperative that reaches 25,000 farms in Minnesota) will promote the Water Quality Certification Program and thereby reinforce the importance of buffers as a component of a sustainable agricultural system.

The buffer law was crafted with the recognition that buffers may not fit all on-the-ground situations, and “alternative practices” may be used in place of traditional buffers. The University of Minnesota and the Board of Water and Soil Resources have been working with agriculture groups like the Minnesota Corn Growers Association to develop a reliable list of alternative practices so that landowners have as many resources as possible to help accomplish the purpose of the buffer law – to protect Minnesota’s lakes, rivers and water resources.

Conservation Minnesota and Audubon Minnesota appreciate all that you do to protect Minnesota’s water resources and bird habitat, and we encourage you to support the fair, efficient, and comprehensive implementation of the buffer law.


Paul Austin, Executive Director, Conservation Minnesota

Molly Pederson, Executive Director, Audubon Minnesota

About Nels Paulsen

Nels Paulsen

A man of few words, but a great deal of action, Nels Paulsen serves as policy director for Conservation Minnesota. In that role, he helps the organization set our public policy strategy and then works with the field and communications teams to see that they are successfully implemented. A passion for the great outdoors was a driving force behind the Wisconsin-native’s decision to become a lawyer, and ultimately join our team. 

Saying that his perfect day includes fishing, and that the three things he can’t live without are a fishing pole, his phone and cheese, it only seems natural that he describes his favorite place in the state as being Lake Saganaga. On May 13, 1979, the state record walleye was pulled from the waters just outside the cabin his family owns up there.

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