Buffer Law

What is a Buffer Strip?

Buffer strips are small areas or strips of land in permanent vegetation placed along waterways to help protect our water resources from erosion and pollution. They are designed to slow water runoff, provide shelter for wildlife, and stabilize riparian areas. Conservation buffers protect soil, improve air and water quality, enhance fish and wildlife habitat, and beautify the landscape. Strategically placed buffer strips can effectively mitigate the movement of sediment, nutrients, and pesticides.

What is the Buffer Law?

The buffer law (Minnesota Statute 103F.48) was an initiative signed by Governor Mark Dayton in June 2015 requiring perennial vegetation buffers be installed along lakes, rivers, streams, and public drainage ditches. It is designed to help filter out phosphorus, nitrogen, and sediment as well as provide wildlife habitat.

What is required of Brown County landowners under the Buffer Law?

The buffer law has separate requirements for public waters and public drainage systems.

  • For Public Waters a 50-foot average width, 30-foot minimum width, continuous buffer.
  • For Public Drainage Systems a 16.5-foot minimum width continuous buffer.
  • The DNR released a map of all waters in the state that need to be buffered along with the designation of the waters. View the Minnesota Buffer Map here.

How does the Brown Soil and Water Conservation District track compliance with the Buffer Law?

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