Dayton coming to Austin to discuss buffer plan

Published 10:22 am Wednesday, April 1, 2015

CORRECTION: In a previous version of this story incorrectly tied Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposal to a March 3 vote by the Mower County Board to seek grant dollars to plan to submit a $363,000 grant proposal to fund an education-centered approach toward bringing the county into compliance with the shoreland buffer.  That plan addresses 50-foot buffer rules in place since the 1980s. It is not tied to Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposal to increase buffers to  500 feet. If passed, that would be enforced by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Not the county. The Herald regrets the error. 

Gov. Mark Dayton is coming to Austin for a public meeting to discuss his proposal to establish an additional 125,000 acres of water quality buffer strips across the state.

Dayton will be at the Hormel Nature Center’s Ruby Rupner Auditorium at 1:30 p.m. Thursday to discuss legislation — House File 1534 and Senate File 1537 — that would require 50-foot water quality buffer strips around Minnesota’s lakes, rivers and streams.

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Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson and Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr are also scheduled to attend the meeting.



The proposal is attracting much interest. Rep. Peggy Bennet, R-Albert Lea, hosted a session on the buffer strips on March 21 that about 80 farmers attended.

In mid-March, 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.

—The Associated Press and Owatonna People’s Press contributed to this report.