Our Mission Statement: To protect the environment along with assisting landowners with knowledge of the rules so that together we may be successful in conserving our land, water and other natural resources.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT:
2015 BUFFER INITIATIVE
Governor Mark Dayton’s new landmark buffer initiative was recently signed into law, designating an estimated 110,000 acres of land for water quality buffer strips statewide. The law establishes new perennial vegetation buffers of up to 50 feet along rivers, streams, and ditches that will help filter out phosphorus, nitrogen, and sediment. The new law provides flexibility and financial support for landowners to install and maintain buffers, and boost compliance with buffer laws across Minnesota.
How Buffers Work:
The stream on the left has insufficient buffer coverage. Areas circled in red should have a buffer. The stream on the right has sufficient buffer coverage. 50 feet of perennial vegetation borders the entire shoreline.
Why is this important?
A new Minnesota Pollution Control Agency study found that few southwest Minnesota waters meet swimmable, fishable standards.
The Buffer Initiative web page and the information contained here is a collaboration with the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource. The state departments of Agriculture and the Pollution Control Agency were also instrumental in formulating this initiative, a process that involved consultation with stakeholder groups, counties and other local governments.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Q: Can a landowner till the buffer area to establish or re-establish alfalfa or other perennial vegetative cover?
A: Yes, temporary tillage for alfalfa establishment is an exempt activity.
2. Q: How will landowners know where to measure the buffer width? Will it be the same for ditches, creeks, rivers, lakes and wetlands?
A: The buffer width for all water bodies covered under the law is measured from the top of the bank or from the normal water level if there is not a defined bank. The SWCD can assist with or validate buffer width measurements if requested.
3. Q: To meet the buffer requirement, do landowners have to plant native grasses? Is reed canary grass acceptable?
A: No, planting of native species is not required, but native species are generally preferred for their root structure, habitat benefits and drought tolerance. In addition, most voluntary conservation programs, such as CRP, have some native grass planting requirements. Existing reed canary grass stands currently meet the perennial vegetation standard. However, new plantings are recommended to avoid using non-native, invasive species. BWSR will be developing guidance on establishing buffers, including which plants should be used.
4. Q: Does this law allow for haying or grazing of the buffer?
A: Yes, haying and grazing practices that maintain perennial vegetative cover are allowable uses.
5. Q: Does the new buffer law address cattle entering the water or require exclusionary fencing?
A: No, other voluntary practices such as fencing and watering systems can address that concern. Use of the buffer to graze livestock cannot result in the elimination of perennial vegetation on the buffer.
6. Q: Is fertilizer application or pesticide spraying allowed on the buffer area?
A: Existing requirements and best management practices for application of fertilizer and pesticides are unchanged by the new buffer strip requirement.
7. Q: Is excavated sediment or spoil from a ditch allowed to be placed on the buffer area to dry?
A: Yes, temporary placement for drying is allowed with permission from the landowner, if the project is authorized by a governmental entity, and perennial vegetation is re-established. Reshaping and seeding of required buffers is allowed, and measures to minimize soil loss during reseeding are recommended.
8. Q: Is 50 feet required on both sides or is 50 feet the total of both sides?
A: The initiative requires 50 feet of buffer on each side of the river, stream, creek, lake or ditch.
CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION
Missouri River Watershed Survey
A key component to the WRAPS Report is to gather public input through a water quality survey. This is intended to address the concerns and suggestions of watershed landowners, residents, agricultural producers, local officials, sportsman's groups and anyone interested in improving water resources. Below is a link to an on-line survey for the Missouri River Basin. Please take a few moments to fill it out and if you are interested in serving on a local work group please include your name or contact your local SWCD.
For information regarding data that has been collected thus far please click the link below for the Nobles SWCD.
***** SUBSURFACE TREATMENT SYSTEM (SSTS) LOANS: The Rock River Watershed received funding from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Clean Water Partnership Loan Program to assist homeowners in replacing failing septic systems. This loan program offers landowners the opportunity to acquire a loan at 3% interest. This loan is simply added to the landowners taxes and may be taken for a term of 5 or 10 years, whichever the landowner prefers. The loan applicant must own the property, however, the property does not have to be owner occupied. For an application or list of contractors click the link below or contact the Land Management Office at 283-8862 Extension 4.
Rock County Loan Application SSTS Licensed Installers
WATER TESTING AND DISINFECTING FLOODED WELLS:
We have water sample test kits in our office free of charge. Water samples taken in Rock County are sent to Minnesota Valley Testing Lab in New Ulm, MN. Test kits include instructions for sampling as well as contact information for the lab. MVTL recommends having the well tested for Coliform Bacteria (Present or Absent) and Nitrates. Please call our office if we can be of further assistance. 283-8862 Extension 4.
QUICK ACCESS: Click on the links below for further information.
2015 OUTSTANDING CONSERVATIONISTS:
Congratulations to Geff, Jackie and Connor Fitzer, Fitzer Farms, Inc. recipients of the 2015 Rock SWCD Outstanding Conservationist. Fitzer Farms, Inc. with be recognized at the Outstanding Conservationist Luncheon held in conjunction with the MN Soil and Water Conservation Districts 2015 Annual Convention on Tuesday, December 8, 2015.
Fitzer Farms, Inc., Geff and Jackie who are 4th generation farmers and son Connor, who is now the 5th generation, operate a 1,300 acre farm raising corn and soybeans and operate a 1,500 head swine nursery in Rock County. They are pictured in front of their 1903, historic barn which was restored and moved to the Rock County Fairgrounds and currently displays antique farm equipment.
Fitzer’s have installed various conservation practices such as shelterbelts, wildlife habitats, terraces, buffers, waterways and practice strip tilling for both corn and soybeans (photo courtesy of Lori Sorenson, Rock County Star Herald.)
In addition, Geff currently serves on the Luverne Township Board, previously served on the Corn and Soybean Growers board and served a 12 year term on the Rock County SWCD Board.
Fitzer’s take pride in caring for and in striving to continue to be good stewards of the land.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
8 am - SWCD Board Meeting
Prairie Office Center
Empty Pesticide Container Collection
10:30 am to 12:00 pm
401 S Cedar St, Luverne
12:00 pm to 6 pm
Rock County Transfer Station
No events scheduled.
Click the Logo for information on the Clean Water Land and Legacy.