Riparian Buffer Easement Program, Phase 2 (FY 2012/2013)
(e) $6,000,000 the first year and $6,000,000 the second year are to purchase and restore permanent conservation easements on riparian buffers adjacent to public waters, excluding wetlands, to keep water on the land in order to decrease sediment, pollutant, and nutrient transport; reduce hydrologic impacts to surface waters; and increase infiltration for groundwater recharge. The riparian buffers must be at least 50 feet unless there is a natural impediment, a road, or other impediment beyond the control of the landowner. This appropriation may be used for restoration of riparian buffers protected by easements purchased with this appropriation and for stream bank restorations when the riparian buffers have been restored.
BWSR and SWCDs will work with private landowners to enroll 218 easements adjacent to public waters that will permanently protect more than 2,339 acres in 39 counties.
The source of additional funds varies from project to project, but generally consists of federal, local and non-public sources. The source of additional funds varies from project to project, but generally consists of federal, local and non-public sources.
This program is a part of a comprehensive clean water strategy to prevent sediment and nutrients from entering our lakes, rivers, and streams; enhance fish and wildlife habitat; protect groundwater and wetlands. Specifically the Riparian Buffer Easement Program targets creating buffers on riparian lands adjacent to public waters, except wetlands. Through the Reinvest in Minnesota Program (RIM) and in partnership with Soil and Water Conservation Districts and private landowners, permanent conservation easements are purchased and buffers established. In 1986, the Reinvest in Minnesota Resources Act was enacted to restore certain marginal and environmental sensitive agricultural land to protect soil and water quality and support fish and wildlife habitat. Utilizing the RIM conservation easement program, conservation easements on riparian lands adjacent to public waters, are purchased. Lands that were targeted were new or existing USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts with cropping history. Participating landowners receive a payment to retire land in agricultural production and to establish permanent buffers of native vegetation that must be at least 50 feet where possible and no more than 100 feet. Buffer strips of native vegetation will be established on the above easement acres, all of which are adjacent to public waters. The program is targeted to critical CRP acres so these areas would be permanently protected instead of enrolled in short-term easements. These buffers slow and prevent sediment from entering lakes, rivers and streams, reduce hydrologic impacts to surface waters and increase infiltration for groundwater recharge. Minnesota currently has just over 200,000 acres of Conservation Reserve Program in buffer practices at various stages of their 10-15 year contracts, some soon to expire. The buffer initiative compliments other programs, both existing and yet to be developed, over the next 25 years.