Officials with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, and local Soil and Water Conservation District offices met with residents throughout southeastern Minnesota Thursday to discuss the state's buffer law.
The meetings were held at the community center in Fountain, the Servicemen's Club in Blooming Prairie, and the Fairlane Building on the Freeborn County Fairgrounds in Albert Lea.
Officials explained that under the state law, vegetative buffers (with an average width of 50 feet and minimum width of 30 feet) must be in place on lands adjacent to public waters by Nov. 1, 2017.
Buffers with a minimum width of 16.5 feet must be in place on lands adjacent to public ditches by Nov. 1, 2018.
To find out exactly which areas require vegetative buffers, visit www.mndnr.gov/buffers to use an interactive map. In all, more than 90,000 miles of waters in the state require buffers or alternative water quality practices, according to a news release by Mower SWCD.
"It's important to protect the waterways because of sediment runoff from adjacent fields to the waters. It filters out pollutants that might be floating over with the runoff. It also stabilizes the stream banks from high water incidences, like a flood. It stabilizes the banks to hold the soil in place," said Aaron Gamm of Mower SWCD.
In Mower County, 94 percent of the agricultural land already complies with the state buffer requirements along public waterways. Those who need help with putting buffers in place can meet with their local Soil and Water Conservation District offices.