A new buffer initiative aimed at protecting Minnesota's waters was signed into law in 2015. The buffer initiative will reduce erosion and pollution from runoff by establishing about 110,000 acres of buffers along Minnesota waterways.
A buffer is vegetated land adjacent to a stream, river, lake or wetland. Buffers help slow the flow of water and filter out phosphorous, nitrogen, and sediment, which are all pollutants that degrade water quality.
Buffer law requirements
The law includes the following requirements for buffer widths:
- An average of 50 feet and minimum of 30 feet along public waters.
- A minimum of 16.5 feet on public drainage systems.
The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources is overseeing implementation of the buffer law, and they are working on program development. Learn more about the buffer program.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is creating buffer maps that will determine which waters are subject to the new requirements. The buffer protection maps are expected to be completed by July 2016. Learn more about the buffer mapping project.
Landowners may install buffers on their own at any time, or they can wait until the maps are complete to see if waters on their land are included in 2016. Buffers must be in place along all public waters by November 1, 2017, and buffers must be in place on all public drainage systems by November 1, 2018.