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Minnesota water buffer maps released

The state buffer map shows waterways in the Hastings area that require buffers. (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources map)

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota officials released maps showing landowners what water needs plant buffers around it, and how deep the buffers must be.

The long-awaited release came Tuesday morning.

State law requires that buffers be placed around all public waters to help prevent runoff from polluting streams and lakes.

The maps show whether buffers must be an average of 50 feet wide or 16.5 feet. More than 90,000 miles along state waters must have the buffers, a program pushed by Gov. Mark Dayton.

Landowners may propose other forms of water quality practices instead of buffers.

The buffer law came into being a year ago in response to water pollution, especially in agriculture areas where chemicals run off cropland. It requires perennial vegetation buffers along rivers, streams, lakes, public ditches and some wetlands.

The Board of Water and Soil Resources, soil and water conservation districts and local governments will work with landowners. There will be a series of eight meetings with local government boards and staff to help coordinate the implementation process.

"Many local buffer ordinances have already gone beyond the minimum state standard established through this process," Dave Leuthe of the DNR said.

Buffer maps are available online at

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.