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Landowners urged to work with Hubbard County SWCD on buffer law compliance

The new Minnesota Buffer Law leans on statewide Soil & Water Conservation Districts to assist, facilitate and educate property owners.

To meet the need, the Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Resources approved a new cost-share program.

In an effort to filter out harmful phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment from local waterways, the Hubbard Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) has been called upon to assist landowners in complying with the Minnesota buffer law which requires the implementation of buffers and/or alternative, water-quality practices.

The law defines a buffer as an establishment of perennial vegetation up to 50 feet along any defined public waters including lakes, rivers and streams and up to 16.5 feet along any public ditches. All buffers are to be installed on public waters by Nov. 1, 2017 and on public ditches by Nov.1, 2018. This law applies to row crop areas.

Lakeshore property owners need not worry about the buffer law if they are in compliance with county/local shoreline ordinances and the DNR statewide regulations.

If a lakeshore owner has questions about their compliance, they can call Hubbard County Environmental Services at 732-3890.

The law will protect water quality by trapping and filtering overland runoff, will improve compliance with existing shoreland rules, and will accelerate buffer requirements established by current public drainage laws.

The Hubbard County SWCD revealed that 99 percent of all parcels adjacent to Minnesota waters in the county meet preliminary compliance with the law. SWCDs are already reporting encouraging progress in their work with landowners around the state.

Almost $5 million dollars have been allocated to support landowners in meeting the requirements of the state buffer law.

"These additional resources, both financial and found online, are designed to help landowners be successful in complying with the law," explained Julie Kingsley, District Manager of Hubbard SWCD. The cost-sharing contracts between landowners and SWCDs are to be used to implement riparian buffers or alternative practices on public waters and public drainage ditches.

The State Buffer Initiative is not a one-size-fits-all requirement; landowners are encouraged to work with their Soil and Water Conservation District for potential financial and/or technical assistance.

In the case of hardships, a landowner can work with the SWCD to develop a plan to obtain an extension to the current public water buffer deadline from Nov. 1, 2017 to July 1, 2018.

To learn more about the buffer requirements in your area, be sure to visit www.hubbardswcd.org and the statewide buffer map created by the DNR at " target="_blank">arcgis.dnr.state.mn.us/gis/buffersviewer.

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