Minnesota Shoreland Buffer Laws Inconsistently Enforced

Doug Smith, reporting for the Star Tribune:

Dakota County Photo

Dakota County Photo

Farmer Ken Betzold has planted 50-foot-wide buffer strips on more than 1½ miles of riverland he owns in Dakota County.

And not entirely for charitable reasons. A state law requires such buffers along some lakes, rivers and streams in agricultural areas. And unlike some Minnesota counties, Dakota County strictly enforces it.

Though the requirement means taking some cropland out of production, Betzold, 72, of Castle Rock Township, sees the benefit of the buffer strips.

“It stops dirt from running into the river, and cleans the water,’’ he said. “There’s a cost, but you have to weigh that with the benefits to the environment.”