Buffer Program Update
July 7, 2020
Riparian Protection Aid Certification
BWSR just recently submitted our annual certification to the Department of Revenue as to which Counties and Watershed Districts have affirmed their jurisdiction under the Buffer Law and the proportion of centerline miles of public watercourses, and miles of public drainage system ditches on the buffer protection map. Those numbers have not changed. Therefore, the allocation of aid should be the same as last year.
Building Better Buffers Factsheets
BWSR is introducing a series of factsheets called “Building Better Buffers”. The purpose of this series is to offer voluntary options for landowners to improve and maintain existing buffers. The series includes factsheets on Buffers for Clean Water, Buffers for Wildlife, Forested Buffers, Alternative Practices, and Buffer Maintenance. The plan is to distribute them to SWCDs and other partners to distribute to interested landowners. We appreciate the input and photos several of you provided for this series. The Building Better Buffers webpage is now live on our website: https://bwsr.state.mn.us/building-better-buffers
If you have questions or ideas for future additions to the series, please contact Paul Erdmann, BWSR Buffer Specialist. Your good photos of buffer related activities are always welcome!
Public water compliance is still estimated at 99% and public ditches at 98% statewide. Overall, these are high compliance numbers. However, there remains thousands of parcels that are listed as not compliant and enforcement work is still on going. Currently 22 counties are deemed fully compliant (that’s up around 25 percent from last fall) and another 40 counties have enforcement cases in progress. These numbers continue to increase on a monthly basis.
Alternative practices continue be used more and more to help bring about compliance thanks to SWCDs working individually with landowners. There are more than 4,000 alternative practices recorded in BuffCAT (that’s an increase of over 1,000 practices from last fall) and numbers continues to grow.
BWSR Academy is scheduled to occur on October 27-29 at Breezy Point Conference Center. However, there is a possibility that it may transition into an on-line Academy. More information will be posted later this summer on our website at: https://bwsr.state.mn.us/2020-bwsr-academy
This summer and fall looked to be a busy time for SWCDs to finalize the process of determining compliance and issuing Notifications of Noncompliance for parcels that are not compliant. However, the COVID 19 Pandemic and the Governor’s Stay Safe Order has made this process more challenging.
Our Buffer Specialists are currently working from home but are available to attend virtual meetings and conduct occasional site visits. You can still reach out to them and schedule site visits for later this summer or anytime if you need assistance.
We continue to encourage feedback on guidance and training that may be needed to support successfully and consistently implementing this program.
As always, thank you for all your efforts.