As we kick off the New Year, we tend to look back on our previous year’s achievements. One of those achievements is the continued work done by the state, local agencies, counties, and landowners in regards to the 2015 Minnesota Buffer and Soil Loss Law. This past year has been filled with progress. The Department of Natural Resources released the official Buffer Map and the Board of Water and Soil Resources have been creating tools and guidance documents for local agencies such as Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) and Watershed Districts for effective and consistent implementation.
Here at our Pope SWCD office, we have completed a county wide desktop analysis. Each parcel that is requiring a buffer was reviewed in order to find initial compliance based on aerial maps. The next steps are to meet with landowners about their parcels, provide technical assistance such as field verification and staking, and compliance validation checks. We will be sending waves of letters to landowners who have parcels that need further review or assistance. This past week letters were sent to the following townships: Nora, New Prairie, Walden, and Hoff. Please schedule an appointment to meet with me if you receive a letter. If you do not receive a letter but would still like to check on your buffer requirements we will ask that you also schedule an appointment.
Going through the initial desktop analysis and data review, we found that, with some margin of error, Pope County is sitting quite well. Most landowners when they have come in to visit about buffers realize that they already have the majority of the required buffer width and only need to add a small acreage. Many of these sites are less than an acre that is to be added for full compliance. Overall, Pope County is 93 percent compliant. With roughly only 300 parcels to review, a possible 6 percent may be falling short of the buffer requirement. The state of Minnesota, based on initial review, is 80 percent compliant. We, as Minnesotans, have been doing great conservation work and are already good stewards of the land. There is just a little bit of last minute work to fully button up the buffer initiative for improving water quality and enhancing habitat. Please contact our office by calling 320-634-5327, ask for Jessica.