MN landowners have more Buffer Law help

Today, the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources announced two additional resources for landowners working to come into compliance with the state’s buffer law. The law  was passed with bipartisan support in 2015 and signed into law by Governor Dayton. The buffer law requires the implementation of a buffer strip on public waters by November 1, 2017 and a buffer on public drainage ditches by November 1, 2018.

“These additional resources, both financial and found online, are designed to help landowners be successful in complying with the buffer law.” explained John Jaschke, Executive Director BWSR.  “Local SWCDs and landowners have been working together over the past 18 months and, we are making great progress with 64 counties already 60-100% compliant.”

COST-SHARE PROGRAM

The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources has approved a new buffer cost-share program, allocating almost $5 million dollars to support landowners in meeting the requirements of the state buffer law.

The funds will be distributed to soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) and are to be used for cost-sharing contracts with landowners or their authorized agents to implement riparian buffers or alternative practices on public waters and public drainage ditches.

Minnesota buffer law

The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources announced a couple of different aids for landowners looking to come into compliance with the Minnesota Buffer Law signed last year. The BWSR says a good number of counties are already 60-100% compliant with the new regulations. (photo from bwsr.stste.mn.us)

These Clean Water Funds, passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Dayton at the end of the 2017 legislative session, provide important support to the Governor’s Buffer Initiative.

The 2017 legislation also recognizes that some landowners may have hardships (such as weather) in meeting the public waters deadline. The added language allows for an eight-month extension for implementation when a landowner or authorized agent has filed a riparian protection “compliance plan” with their local SWCD by November 1, 2017. Compliance waivers offer a buffer deadline extension until July 1, 2018.

NEW ONE-STOP WEBSITE

Minnesota landowners with questions about compliance waivers and other buffer law topics also have another option available today with the launching of a new one-stop website for information and tips to implement the buffer law. The new site, mn.gov/buffer-law, is a user-friendly and convenient resource for landowners and the public to learn about the law, find answers about alternative practices, and get information about financial and technical assistance and more.

The new buffer site, launched by the State of Minnesota is found at mn.gov/buffer-law. For more information on the buffer law, including the cost-share program, contact your local soil and water conservation district.

COMPLIANCE

Soil and Water Conservation Districts have been hard at work with landowners statewide and progress toward compliance is being made. 64 of Minnesota’s 87 counties are 60 – 100 percent in compliance with the buffer law. Statewide, preliminary compliance with the buffer law is 89%.

###

Here’s a talk on the buffer law presented by Darren Mayers, District Technician Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District

BWSR is the state soil and water conservation agency, and it administers programs that prevent sediment and nutrients from entering our lakes, rivers, and streams; enhance fish and wildlife habitat; and protect wetlands. The 20-member board consists of representatives of local and state government agencies and citizens. BWSR’s mission is to improve and protect Minnesota’s water and soil resources by working in partnership with local organizations and private landowners.

MN Farm Bill Partnership Invites Landowners to a Pheasant Summit

Pheasants Forever and the Minnesota Farm Bill Partnership invite area landowners and farmers to participate in the state’s first Pheasant Summit at Southwest Minnesota State University on December 13, 2014. No cost conservation planning for area landowners will be available throughout the day at the “Landowner Habitat Help Desk” to provide consultation regarding USDA and state conservation program eligibility.The Minnesota Pheasant Summit will include hunters, farmers, policymakers, conservationists, other stakeholders, and key members of the Governor’s Cabinet. The event will focus on strategies to increase the state’s pheasant population, improve pheasant habitat, and ensure future generations of Minnesota hunters have the opportunity to enjoy one of the state’s most popular and iconic game birds. Attendees can register for the Pheasant Summit online.“Farmers and landowners play a huge role in the quantity and quality of pheasant habitat across Minnesota,” said Eran Sandquist, Pheasants Forever’s state coordinator in Minnesota. “Pheasants Forever and its partners encourage landowners to attend the summit to provide input about the future of pheasants in our state. Wildlife biologists will be on hand at the landowner help desk all day to assist landowners in developing wildlife goals that fit with their operation and build an understanding of current program options to help achieve those goals.”NRCS and Pheasants Forever have developed a wonderful partnership to help Minnesota private landowners implement conservation practices on their land. The Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Biologists have made a significant difference in how many landowners we service from our USDA Service Centers. Every day they assist us with voluntary conservation implementation and actively demonstrate that our landowners recognize we can have both economically viable farms and excellent pheasant habitat. The Minnesota Summit is another demonstration of the leadership and dedication Pheasants Forever has for working with the agencies and private landowners,” explained Don Baloun, State Conservationist, NRCS.

The Minnesota Farm Bill Partnership is a collection of state agencies and organizations dedicated to providing technical assistance and conservation planning to Minnesota landowners through USDA habitat programs. Participating partners include the Board of Water and Soil Resources, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Department of Natural Resources, Pheasants Forever, Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts and the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.

Post-Summit Gathering

Pheasants Forever will host a post-summit gathering of the Minnesota Pheasant Summit at Brau Brothers Brewing Company in Marshall, Minn. Participants, members, pheasant hunters and landowners are encouraged to attend and discuss further ideas to support Minnesota’s pheasant population.

  • What: A no cost event to discuss outcomes of the inaugural Minnesota Pheasant Summit. A special price of $10 will include a burger and beverage.
  • When: Saturday, December 13, 2014, starting at 5 p.m.
  • Where: Brau Brothers Brewing Company Tap Room (910 East Main Street, Marshall, MN 56258)
  • Hotels: Rooms are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Please contact Darin Rahm with the Marshall Convention and Visitors Bureau at 507-537-1865.

About Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever

Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 140,000 members and 700 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Chapters are empowered to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent; the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure.

-30-

Pheasants Forever is dedicated to the conservation of pheasants, quail and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public awareness, education and land management policies and programs.

Who pays the bill in Wabasha County

Julie Porcher is on a one-woman campaign to bring some accountability and openness to Wabasha County government. The reason she’s shouldered the burden is simple: her family’s roots in Wabasha County run very deep.

Julie can trace her family beginnings in Wabasha County as far back as the nineteenth century. She has an 1874 county plat map, and it shows 2 Cliff (her maiden name) farms existed in the county. The records show that her maternal grandfather purchased the farm back in 1862, during the Civil War. Porcher can trace her family’s civic-minded nature back that far as well, as her maternal grandfather was a school board member.

Porcher grew up in the family farmhouse as 1 of 7 children, and loved playing outdoors from morning till night during the nice days. The family tried not to freeze in the winter, in spite of the electric blankets and space heaters spread throughout the house. “There was no central heat or air in the farmhouse,” she said.

She said one of the best parts of living in farm country were the relatives that lived close to their farm.   “I spent so many hours playing with my cousins, all over that farm.”

Julie said she learned some of her most important life lessons on the farm too. “At my father’s knee, I learned that everything comes from the land. Not just our food, which is important by itself, but the fibers grown for our clothes, wood for our houses, minerals, gemstones, along with coal and oil for energy.” She said “You care for the land to give animals a place to live, and so you can draw clean water from it.”

Julie and her husband Eric raised three children while living in St Paul. Logan is 30, Emily is 27, and Samantha is now 23.

Julie is buying 55 of the original 80 acres that her family owned. After her parents died, a part of it was sold to nephews. She’s planning on renting out the farmland, similar to what her father did during her childhood. “I’m educating myself about land practices as we speak,” she said.

Porcher began to attend Wabasha County board meetings back in 2012. “My sister had been attending for quite some time and encouraged me to go. I already knew I was going to buy out my sibling’s interest in the family farm and would be paying taxes for the foreseeable future,” she said.

Porcher doesn’t like what she sees in the way Wabasha County government has been running for some time. “For our county government to collect the hard-earned money of its citizens and be so careless in the way it spends the money is almost criminal. I want good government, even if most folks think good government is an oxymoron,” she said.

“I want information out there for the citizens who can’t attend the Tuesday morning board meetings,” said Julie. “They pay their taxes and they should be informed about how the government is spending their money. I hope it leads to residents being engaged in how their government is run. I hope that engagement leads to more accountability in how our elected officials spend money while they’re in office.”

She talked about why it’s so important for citizens to engage with what’s going on in county government: