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Buffer Program

2017 Buffer Law Amendments

The Buffer Law that was signed into law by Governor Dayton in June 2015 was amended on April 25, 2016, and further amended by legislation signed by Governor Dayton on May 30, 2017. The amendments enacted in 2017 clarify the application of the buffer requirement to public waters, provides additional statutory authority for alternative practices, addresses concerns over the potential spread of invasive species, including palmer amaranth, through buffer establishment, establishes a Riparian Protection Aid Program to fund local government buffer law enforcement and implementation, and allows landowners to be granted a compliance waiver until July 1, 2018 when they have filed a compliance plan with the soil and water conservation district.

Election of Jurisdiction


Buffer Program Updates



Buffer Program Alternative Practices


Buffer Program Implementation Guidance

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


Buffer Program Implementation


Buffer Program Enforcement

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Buffer Program Implementation Forms


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

Drainage System Acquisition of Buffer Strips and Alternative Practices

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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