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