What is a Buffer?
A buffer, also known as a riparian filter strip, is vegetated land adjacent to a stream, river, lake or wetland. Buffers help filter out phosphorus, nitrogen, and sediment, and are an important conservation practice for helping keep water clean. Studies by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency show that buffers are critical to protecting and restoring water quality and healthy aquatic life, natural stream functions and aquatic habitat due to their immediate proximity to the water.
Minnesota Buffer Law
Minnesota's buffer law establishes new perennial vegetation buffers of up to 50 feet along lakes, rivers, and streams and buffers of 16.5 feet along ditches. These buffers will help filter out phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment. The law provides flexibility for landowners to install alternative practices with equivalent water quality benefits that are based on the Natural Resources Conservation Service Field Office Technical Guide.
Minnesota Statute 103B.101, Subdivision 12A and 103F.48 (Buffer Law)
Compliance Tracking of all Parcels Subject to the Buffer Law
- A review of all parcels in the county will be reviewed within a 3-year timeframe.
Random Spot Checks
• Random spot checks will be done in addition to the tracking of all parcels within a 3-year span. These checks may be conducted via aerial photo review or on-site review depending on availability of updated aerial photos and the practice that is being checked/access to farms. A combination of both aerial and on-site review may also be used.
- The Itasca SWCD will conduct 25-50 parcels on a random spot check review each year outside of the scheduled area.
- Additionally, the Itasca SWCD may review parcels of emphasis more frequently.
- Previously non-compliant
- No-till/Conservation tillage or cover crop alternative practice plans
- Variable width buffers (i.e. Land O’ Lakes buffer tool, Decision Support Tool)
- Other Alternative Practice Plans
- Cost-share funded projects (years 1,3,9 of contract)
- Parcels of further emphasis (potential violators)