Buffer Monitoring

Moving Forward With The Buffer Law

Since the buffer initiative was signed into law in June of 2015, state and local agencies have been hard at work implementing the new law throughout the state. For any public waters, the Buffer Law requires  vegetative buffers that are an average width of 50 feet and a minimum width of 30 feet. The law also requires a minimum buffer width of 16.5 feet along public drainage systems. Throughout the state, 75 counties have elected jurisdiction to enforce the Buffer Law, including Pine County.

The deadline for compliance was November 1st, 2017 for public waters; public drainage systems have an upcoming compliance deadline date of November 1st, 2018. Currently, there is about a 99% compliance rate on Public Waters statewide. While this number shows great progress, there is still a lot of work to be done.

Seeing all this progress, the Pine SWCD has been working with the Board of Water and Soil Resources to develop a monitoring plan to ensure that this progress stays on course and that the benefits for water quality continue long into the future. To track the compliance status of all parcels subject to the Buffer Law, Pine SWCD staff will conduct reviews of all parcels over a 3-year period. 1/3 of all the parcels in Pine County will be reviewed each year beginning in 2019. The order of the reviews and how the county is divided will change for each 3-year tracking cycle.

In addition to the 3-year tracking cycle, random spot checks will be conducted every year on 25-50 parcels in Pine County using both aerial imagery and on-site review. The professional opinion of the Pine SWCD will determine what parcels will be included each year and the level of review that will be required. At any point during the 3-year tracking cycle, a parcel may be deemed non-compliant and be moved to Pine County for enforcement measures.

Moving forward, the Pine SWCD wants to be an ongoing resource available for landowners to maintain their compliance, transition into compliance, or to simply assist with land management issues. If you have questions regarding any aspect of the Buffer Law, please contact Pine SWCD at (320) 216-4240.