Buffer Law

Buffer Law


Conservation buffers are best described as strips or other areas of land in permanent vegetation that help control pollutants, mitigate the movement of sediment, nutrients, and pesticideds within farm fields and from farm fields. Filter strips, riparian buffers (predominantly trees and shrubs next to water courses), field borders, grassed waterways, field windbreaks, shelterbelts, and contour grass strips are all examples of conservation buffers. The small amount of land taken out of production helps producers meet enviornmental and economic goals.
Buffers can be especially helpful to you in maintaining a productive, profitable, and responsible farming or ranching operation. Today, America's farms and ranches do more than produce crops and livestock. They play an important role in maintaining the environmental quality enjoyed by all citizens. Conservation buffers can help you protect soil, air, and water quality and improve fish and wildlife habitat...while you demonstrate your commitment to land stewardship.
You can use conservation buffers along streams and around lakes or wetlands. They can also be installed within fields or at field edges. Buffers are most effective when they are combined with other practices, such as conservation tillage, nutrient management, and integrated pest management. Together, these practices can provide you with an effective, profitable conservation program.
Key Messages
Conservation buffers protect soil, improve air and water quality, enhance fish and wildlife habitat, and beautify the landscape. Conservation buffers shows a producer’s commitment to conservation and their willingness to protect the environment.  
Benefits of Conservation Buffers
  • Slow water runoff.
  • Remove up to 50% or more of nutrients and pesticides in runoff.
  • Remove up do 60% or more of pathogens in runoff.
  • Remove up to 75% or more of sediment in runoff.
  • Reduce noise and odor.
  • Serve as a source of food, nesting cover, and shelter for wildlife.
  • Stabilize streambanks and reduce water temperature in stream.
  • Provide a setback distance for agricultural chemical use from watercourses.
  • Reduce downstream flooding
  • Represents profitable, common sense conservation for landowners.
  • Reduced risk of tractor rollover due to set back of steep ditch or creek.
  • Take advantage of incentives. provided to establish buffers from local, state, and federal  programs.
  • Establishment of natural vegetation.

Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) has been awarded $15,000 in Buffer Cost Share funding from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) through the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.

30,873 Crow Wing County parcels are in compliance with the buffer law and have the necessary perennial vegetation.

Crow Wing County has over 400 lakes and 75 rivers with over 2,000 miles of shoreline

This initiative aims to educate landowners and provide conservation programs to move in the direction of 100% compliance.

For more information please contact the Crow Wing SWCD at 218-828-6197.





All parcels in the county are to be reviewed within a 3-year timeframe.

a)Review approximately 1/3 of the county (Area A, B or C) each year (Attachment A)

           2. RANDOM SPOT CHECKS

Random spot checks will be done in addition to the tracking of all parcels within a 3-year span. These checks may be conducted via aerial photo review or on-site review depending on availability of updated aerial photos and the practice that is being checked/access to private land. A combination of both aerial and on-site review may also be used.

    1. The SWCD will conduct 25-50 parcels on a random spot check each year outside of the scheduled area.
    2. Additionally, the SWCD should review parcels of emphasis more frequently.
  • Previously non-compliant
  • No-till/Conservation tillage or cover crop alternative practice plans
  • Variable width buffers (i.e. Land O’ Lakes buffer tool, Decision Support Tool)
  • Other Alternative Practice Plans
  • Cost-share funded projects (years 1,3,9 of contract)
  • Parcels of further emphasis (potential violators)

CROW WING SWCD MONITORING PLAN MAP FOR BUFFER COMPLIANCE TRACKING-http://arcgis.dnr.state.mn.us/gis/buffersviewer/