In June of 2015, Governor Dayton signed into law a new buffer initiative aimed at enhancing protection of Minnesota’s waters. The buffer initiative will help protect the state’s water resources from erosion and run off pollution by establishing roughly 110,000 acres of buffer along waterways while providing flexibility and technical support to landowners for installation and maintenance.

  • What is a buffer? A buffer is a strip of perennial vegetation adjacent to a stream, river, lake, wetland, or a ditch. Buffers help filter out phosphorus, nitrogen, and sediment, and are an important conservation practice for helping keep water clean.
  • Why buffers? Studies by the MN 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.
  • What is required? Under the law, a 50 foot buffer is required on all public waters no later than November 1, 2017, and a 16.5 foot buffer on all public drainage systems no later than November 1, 2018.
  • How will I know if buffers are required? The DNR is in the process of mapping all waters subject to the new requirements. The maps are expected to be completed by July 2016.
  • How will the program work? The local SWCD will provide technical assistances and Counties or Watershed Districts will be the first point of contact when noncompliance is identified.
  • Is there financial assistance available? Yes. There are several state and federal programs available through the SWCD office to help install a buffer.
  • Where do I go for more information? Contact the Chisago SWCD office at 651-674-2333 about buffers and local requirements. For information about the new buffer law in general, please visit:

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