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Phase I of county buffer program close to completion

Phase I of a three-phase buffer initiative to help prevent pollution from entering county waters is nearly complete, Brad Mergens, manager of the West Otter Tail Soil and Water Conservation District, told county commissioners Tuesday, July 12.

Phase I of a three-phase buffer initiative to help prevent pollution from entering county waters is nearly complete, Brad Mergens, manager of the West Otter Tail Soil and Water Conservation District, told county commissioners Tuesday, July 12.

Conservation buffers are best described as strips or other areas of land in permanent vegetation that help control pollutants. Examples include field borders, field windbreaks, shelterbelts and contour grass strips.

The buffer initiative aims to assist landowners in moving towards 100-percent voluntary compliance.

Soil and Water Conservation District offices in Fergus Falls and Perham provide technical and financial assistance to landowners for the design and implementation of required buffers.

Part of Phase I includes working with participating landowners to identify buffer boundaries and assist them with program eligibility and enrollment.

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This initiative includes informing landowners about Minnesota's Shoreland Management Rule and the county Shoreland Management Ordinance for agricultural use standards for shoreland areas.

"Buffer strips slow runoff from fields, trapping and filtering sediment, nutrients, pesticides and other potential pollutants before they reach surface waters," said Mergens.

During Phase II, landowners who did not respond to inquiries or did not move to compliance will be contacted a second time.

As part of Phase III, the west and east Soil and Water Conservation Districts will work with the county ditch inspector to implement buffers along county ditches as required by drainage laws.

For more information, contact the West Otter Tail Soil and Water Conservation District Office in Fergus Falls at 218-739-4694, Ext. 4 or the East Otter Tail Soil and Water Conservation District Office in Perham at 218-346-4260, Ext. 3.

Related Topics: OTTER TAIL COUNTY
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