Legislators look at tougher buffer strip requirements

Published 10:18 am Wednesday, March 11, 2015

ST. PAUL — Lawmakers began consideration Tuesday of one of Gov. Mark Dayton’s top environmental initiatives, a requirement for farmers to leave larger buffer areas along drainage ditches and other waterways to improve wildlife habitat.

Rep. Denny McNamara, R-Hastings, the chairman of the environmental committee considering the bill, said it has “broad support and broad opposition as we try to get it to a point that will work.”

Hunting, fishing and environmental groups support the idea. But the state’s two largest agricultural groups oppose the bill in its current form due to the loss of tillable land and other impacts on farmers, such as potential heavy fines for noncompliance.

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