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Shoreland mapping project for SE Minnesota

Fri, Oct 31st, 2008
Posted in Government

PRESTON - Ross Hoffman, Cannon River Partnership, instructed the Fillmore County Board of Commissioners on the details of the shoreland mapping project at their October 28 meeting. His job in part is to educate elected officials and the public and to increase awareness of the state statute and the benefits of a buffer. Hoffman has been making the presentation in southeast Minnesota counties. The ten-county project, which is estimated to be completed by mid-year 2010, will focus on shoreland only.

By state statute (enacted in the early '90s) farmers must maintain a 50-foot minimum buffer of perennial vegetation along a protected Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) public waterway. Counties may make the rules more restrictive, but not less so. Fillmore County zoning ordinances also require the 50-foot buffer along waterways. Counties are responsible for enforcement of the rules. Drainage ditches created by altering a natural waterway is also restricted. Some drainage ditches must have a sixteen and one half foot buffer maintained with perennial vegetation.

The buffer prevents the bulk of field applications including pesticides, herbicides, manure, phosphorous, nitrogen, and nitrates from reaching the waterway. Hoffman noted that studies have shown a reduction of as much as 87% of the sediment, 71% of the phosphorous, 42% of the nitrogen and 39% of the nitrates from reaching a stream or lake with a fifty foot buffer. Hoffman stressed that the primary focus of the buffer is to separate the row crop field from the waterway. The thick perennial grass acts as a break, a net and as a filter. Hoffman declared, "It works and works very well."

Hoffman said that farmers are allowed to turn around on the buffer strip, hay it, or take trees of it, if the buffer strip is established by the farmer. If it is established through another program like CRP, then other requirements may apply.

Mr. Hoffman admitted that the buffer strips are not popular with some farmers as they reduce the tillable land, but he insisted by only a small percentage. Hoffman added that it requires a commitment and effort by the county.

The whole focus of the shoreland mapping in southeast Minnesota which includes the entire lower Mississippi River Basin is to locate and identify all those places where there are not adequate buffers. Hoffman said that this will include mapping 3,800 miles of continuous streams and rivers. Commissioners expressed support for the projected two year project.

Other Business

• Emergency Management Director Deborah Teske asked the board to consider the purchase of a replacement light tower for the one destroyed in the Rushford flooding last year. The board approved the purchase of a used tower, used for the 35W bridge construction, for $5,100 plus tax. A new tower would cost about $8,000.

Teske received approval to purchase a second used tower for $4,800 plus tax if there was adequate grant funding available for the purchase. Currently, with the purchase of the replacement tower only four of the five districts in the county will have a light tower. The purchase of one more tower would equip each district with a tower. They are housed with a fire department in each of the districts.

• The commissioners held a Joint Health Powers teleconference with the Houston County Board. The boards approved a four year master contract with the Minnesota Department of Health. The contract is part of the legal process needed to receive funding for Public Health from the state. The boards agreed to have a face to face meeting December 2 at Spring Grove.

• Zoning Administrator Norman Craig asked for and received approval for access permits for Travis and Jennifer Peters to CSAH #6 and for Ostrander Farmers' Coop to CSAH # 17, as recommended by the Planning and Zoning Commission.

• A Conditional Use Permit for a propane tank for Ostrander Farmers' Coop in Bristol Township was approved.

• The board approved a 3.0% increase for a general adjustment for cost of living for the nonunion 2009 pay plan.

• A resolution was passed declaring November 3 to be County Financial Worker and Case Aide Day. Chairman Randy Dahl expressed thanks to our financial workers.

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