SWCD working buffers with 740 property owners

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Letters have been sent out to 740 property owners in Swift County who own approximately 1,100 parcels of land that will have to comply with Minnesota’s new buffer law.

“The hardest thing at this point is just making sure the landowners are aware of the law, and at that point, trying to get them into the system and explain to them what their options might be for getting compensated,” Swift County SWCD Conservation Technician Andy Albertsen said Monday.

Those options include getting compensation for land taken out of production and entering it into the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP.)

Letters were sent out all the landowners who were going to see an impact from the new law. Articles have also been running in the Monitor-News about the program. “We have really tried to emphasize an outreach prior to these deadlines so people can be a little proactive in getting their land compliant.”

While he is still identifying which properties will need the 50-foot buffers and which ones will need the 16.5 buffer strip, Albertsen says they seem to be split about 50 percent each.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) released updated maps on the state’s public waters and public ditches July 12 and turned them over to the county Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs).  Those maps identify where perennial vegetative buffers of either 16.5 feet or 50 feet will be required along rivers, streams, and ditches to help filter out phosphorus, nitrogen, and other farm chemicals, as well as sediment.

In late July, the Swift County’s SWCD conducted a meeting to inform landowners about the state buffer initiative and its requirements. The over 70 people who attended the meeting were able to view the DNR maps to see if they had public waters or public ditches on their property.

Also at the meeting were representatives of the SWCD, DNR, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, West Central Area Certification Specialist, and Rinke-Noonan Law Office, to advise landowners on the options for complying with the law.

The SWCD is now working with landowners to ensure they are able to comply with the two deadlines set down in state law this past spring. The deadlines for compliance are:
Nov 1, 2017: 50-foot average width, 30-foot minimum width, buffers must be in place on lands adjacent to public waters and identified and mapped on the buffer map.
Nov. 1, 2018: 16.5-foot minimum width buffers must be in place on lands adjacent to public ditches as identified and mapped on the buffer map.

A public water is a river, stream, or lake, as well as some wetlands. A public ditch includes any publically funded and maintained ditch. These ditches are generally county ditches and joint county ditches flowing through more than one county...


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