Soil and Water Conservation District

Buffer Initiative

The 2015 Buffer Initiative establishes perennial vegetation along Public Waters and Public Ditch Systems, intended to reduce the impacts of phosphorus, nitrogen, and sediment.  The Buffer Initiative provides flexibility and financial support for landowners to install and maintain buffers.

The MN DNR has created a buffer map indicating which watercourses and water bodies are Public Waters (103G) and which are Public Ditch Systems (103E).  The Buffer Map can be viewed here.  The map indicates public waters as blue and public ditch systems as green the list below specifies the requirements for each. 

The width of the buffer must be measured form the top or crown of the bank.  Where there is no defined bank, measurement must be from the edge of the normal water level.  The buffer can be used for hay, grazed, or used for pasture; provided it maintains permanent vegetation.

It is the responsibility of the landowner to attain compliance and can be accomplished by planting with or without financial assistance; however, once the compliance dates pass programs will no longer be available. 

2016 Legislative Summary

Buffer Alternative Practice Options

Buffer Financial and Technical Support

Buffer Implementation

Buffer Monitoring Plan

Frequently Asked Questions


  • 701 Minnesota Ave NW, Suite 113
    Bemidji, MN 56601
    218-333-4158 F: 218-333-8486