The buffer law in Minnesota creates new “buffer” layers for vegetation of up to 50 feet along lakes, rivers, and stream. A buffer refers to vegetated land that exists alongside a stream or river. The reason for these buffers is that they help to filter out nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment. For conservationists, these buffers are important because they help to keep water clean by protecting and restoring both aquatic life and water quality.
The state of Minnesota established a deadline for use of these buffers in public waters by November 1, 2017, while a deadline of November 1, 2018 was given for public ditches. Additionally, Minnesota’s Board of Water and Soil Resources reports that 89% of parcels in the state are in compliance with the law.
How Buffer Laws Apply to Your Land
A knowledgeable property law attorney can help make a determination about how buffer laws apply to your land. There is also a statewide buffer map which proves to be helpful in determining where buffers are required and what widths the buffers must be. It is important for people to follow these regulations and remain in compliance with the laws of the state of Minnesota.
What Should be Included in a Buffer
A person has several options in what to plant in a buffer, which include the following:
- Forage and Hay Crops: Much vegetation in this category including alfalfa, clovers, and forage grasses are helpful in buffer planting.
- Perennial Grains: This category includes grain that can be planted and eventually harvested from buffer areas.
- Prairie Vegetation: This vegetation has deep roots that are useful for filtering and water infiltration. It is important, however, that people remain mindful of pollinators, which can create significant pesticide concerns. Some of the best choices in this category included asters, black-eyed Susans, goldenrods, milkweeds, and wilt mints.
- Woody Vegetation: Some of the various species include Coke Cherry, Dogwood, Highbush Cranberry, Indigo Bush, Ninebark, and Prairie Plum. It is important that these plants are used in combination with prairie vegetation.
There are also some plants that should not be located in the buffer zone. Minnesota prohibits invasive species. It is also important to avoid planting palmer amaranth and other types of weeds, which can do substantial damage to a buffer area.
The Possibility of Waivers
A landowner who requires financial or technical assistance with a buffer zone should make sure to contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District. This waiver allows a person up to eight months to work collaboratively with their local department to create an adequate buffer area. Also, if a property owner has applied for any type of financial or technical assistance then they have a year to satisfy requirements.
Speak with a Minnesota Property Law Attorney
If you have questions about buffer compliance, it can be very difficult to figure out the answers on your own. Instead, it is often recommended that you speak with a knowledgeable property law attorney. Speak with Dean Rindy or Morgan Reinke legal counsel at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson & Foss today online or by calling 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002.