step 2 icon swcd notifies landowner

SWCD contacts the landowner to let them know they are potentially out of compliance based on initial reviews and to offer technical assistance.

Landowner installs buffer or implements an approved alternative practice: Step 6

Landowner does not install buffer or implement an approved alternative practice: Step 3


The Minnesota Buffer Law (§103F.48) tasks SWCDs with determining buffer compliance and offering technical assistance to landowners. Following initial compliance determinations, SWCDs contact landowners to offer assistance and options for coming into compliance. Drainage authorities are also tasked with inspecting buffers along public drainage systems under MN §103E. The SWCD and drainage authority should coordinate ongoing buffer monitoring efforts.

What statute says:

Subd. 6.Local implementation and assistance. (a) Soil and water conservation districts must assist landowners with implementation of the water resource riparian protection requirements established in this section. For the purposes of this subdivision, assistance includes planning, technical assistance, implementation of approved alternative practices, and tracking progress toward compliance with the requirements.

Helpful tips:

It is recommended that an SWCD use multiple methods to contact landowners.

Methods to contact landowners
  • Letter
  • Postcard
  • Certified Letter: requires a signature to received, can be declined
  • "Last Chance" letter: includes a date to respond by. If no response, enforcement process begins
  • Email
  • Phone call
What to include when contacting landowners
  • Name
  • Parcel Identification Number (PIN)
  • Description of The Minnesota Buffer Law
  • Applicable maps public waters (50') or public ditch (16.5') designation
  • SWCD contact information
  • Dates for landowners to reply to SWCD by
  • Websites to access for more information 
Strategies to encourage compliance
  • Use of the county or watershed district letterhead
  • "Final Notice" letter or "30-Day" letter - Lay out what the enforcement process may look like
Building a landowner's case file
  • Discuss with the local planning and zoning authority, watershed district or county attorney what information they would like to build a landowner case file.
  • Keep detailed notes to track correspondence and attempted correspondence. 
  • Keep copies of outreach attempts on file to document efforts to assist landowners.


Initial Contacts:

Final Notices: 


Panorama of Buffer Sites