Sunday, March 1, 2015

Back to Buffer Strips

In the last post we dove into the impending proposal for waterway buffer strips in Minnesota.   One of the most glaring issues as always is the money.  Where will it come from?  Not only will it cost millions to install and establish these waterways but enforcing, and maintaining them will be a yearly undertaking which will no doubt require added staffing of whichever entity takes it over (most likely the DNR). Which in turn requires ........yep more money.  Again before anyone gets the wrong idea I want to point out that I do think that we need these programs in many states and I am most definitely in favor of protecting our waterways. However the financial burden should fall on everyone's shoulders including, but not solely the landowners.  Whether you own 15,000 acres in the Red River Valley or an empty lot on Lake X  it shouldn't be your sole financial responsibility when really its everyone's duty to preserve the waters that we all need on some level.  

One thing that would surprise many non landowners is that there are already programs somewhat similar to this proposal currently in use through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  The difference is that they are for the most part voluntary not mandatory.   In fact there is a stewardship program that even provides partial funding through the federal government to help with the installation and maintenance costs associated with establishing buffer strips and other erosion control systems.  Its very similar to the tax funded programs that many states have which will contribute, and in some cases provide all the plant material for installing wind breaks or conservation strips.  Hopefully this will be the route taken by Minnesota for its funding.

Once you get the funding somewhat straightened out the next major hurdle is whether or not this magic width for the strips (whatever it ends up being) will be universal.  Will the guy on Minnetonka have to have the same buffer as the guy with a drainage ditch in Lincoln County?  Good luck, as our loyal reader Nigel pointed out, telling lake front owners they can no longer touch the first 50 feet of their frontage! Now that's a lake association meeting that I want nothing to do with. 

Unfortunately this is most likely going to be a long and difficult thing to institute, however water quality needs to be a priority for all people not just outdoor enthusiasts and I tip my hat to Minnesota for its willingness to address the situation no matter how daunting.  I hope that whatever program they come up with that its landowner friendly because in the long run they truly hold the key to our water quality and wild life habitat. 

Well I look forward to following this story in the future and next time we visit I want to lighten the mood with a little late season hard water fishing talk.  So remember STAY ACTIVE, STAY HEALTHY, STAY OUTDOORS

1 comment:

  1. Totally agree that it should be "everyones duty" to help preserve the water ways. Not just the land owner with acreage, the person with lake shore property, or the licensed hunter and fisherman, but everyone! Things I've read or heard on this subject, so far, focuses mostly on" shore line property". I live 300 yard from the Mississippi river, in the metro suburbs. None of my neighbors hunt, fish, or have lake shore property, but do have fire pits and lovely irragated /fertilize lawns. So, if the money came from higher priced fishing or hunting licenses (if the DNR heads this issue, it seems that is the only way they can ever come up with extra revenue), it wouldn't effect the people the contribute to the majority of the problem. So, why should they care?
    It's seems they are focused on the end of the issue instead of the problem itself or looking into ways to slow the influx of nitrogen to the water way. Now, if there was a state grant for everyone in my neighborhood to have a 5 foot strip of a natural grasses and pollination habit between their yard and the river, not only would that stop a ton of the contaminants from even making it to the "shore line propertys", but would help the growth of new plant and animal life. OH WAIT, there IS!!! Just like the stewardship, it's a very small financial contribution for the "city lot" population to do something. So instead of pissing off the outdoor enthusiasts and lake communities, we need to educate people on what options they have to help slow down the problem before it reaches the point of taking all the shore line for the "buffer strip".
    Thanks again Dan for another good discussion!