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Buffer Program

Request for Comment


2016 Buffer Law Amendments

The Buffer Law that was signed into law by Governor Dayton in June 2015 was amended by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Dayton on April 25, 2016. These amendments provide clarifications to several provisions of the law, including the buffer requirement by ensuring it only applies to public waters and public ditches and compliance and enforcement responsibilities and processes. Additional details on these changes are provided in the documents below.

Buffer and Soil Loss Program Updates

May 2, 2017 New!

March 16, 2017

February 21, 2017


Program Updates Archive


Buffer Program Alternative Practices New!


Buffer Program Implementation Guidance

Additional Implementation Guidance is under development. Please check back regularly for updates and new documents.


Buffer Program Implementation

The BWSR Board approved the following Buffer Program policies to guide implementation of the program:

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Buffer Program Implementation Forms

  • Conditional Compliance Waiver Request - New!
  • Validation of Compliance Request - New!
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    Buffer Compliance and Tracking Tool

    Links to the Buffer Compliance and Tracking Tool and associated guidance can be found here.


    Excessive Soil Loss Program Implementation


    Supporting Documents:


    Why is this important?

    A new Minnesota Pollution Control Agency study found that few southwest Minnesota waters meet swimmable, fishable standards.

    The Buffer Initiative web page and the information contained here is a collaboration with the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource. The state departments of Agriculture and the Pollution Control Agency were also instrumental in formulating this initiative, a process that involved consultation with stakeholder groups, counties and other local governments.


    Local Government Resources

    Buffer Establishment and Management Toolbox »


    Landowner Resources

    DNR Buffer Mapping Project »

    Implementing the 2015 Law »

    NRCS Field Office Technical Guide Options for Alternative Practices »

    Landowner Financial Options for Buffers »

    SWCD technical assistance »

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    How do buffers work? »

    Mixed Woods Ecoregion

    Northeastern Minnesota

    The best buffer conditions are in the Northern and Northeastern sections of the state. More than 90 percent of the shorelines have good, or very good buffers already in place.

    Mixed Woods Plains Ecoregion

    East-Central Minnesota

    Almost 90 percent of the shorelines in Central and East Central Minnesota have good or very good buffers in place.

    Prairies Ecoregion

    South and Western Minnesota

    The greatest opportunity to improve buffers is in the South and West where about half the shorelines have good or very good buffer coverage in place.


    Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources

    520 Lafayette Road North, St. Paul, MN 55155 | (651) 296-3767 | Fax (651) 297-5615 | TTY (800) 627-3529

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