Julie Buntjer: Minnesota Governor Dayton Talks about Buffer Initiative

Governor Dayton at Worthington

Governor Dayton at Worthington

An estimated 200 people, including farmers from more than a 12-county area of southern and western Minnesota, packed inside the Worthington Fire Hall Thursday morning to ask questions and voice concerns about Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposal seeking to require 50-foot buffer strips along all lakes, rivers and streams across the state.

Arriving a few minutes behind schedule to a standing-room-only audience, Dayton acknowledged immediately that there will be disagreements and everyone is entitled to an opinion. He listened to question after question and occasionally offered responses on his bipartisan bill (HF1534/SF1537) for nearly two hours.

Dayton’s proposal seeks to create an additional 125,000 acres of water quality buffer strips statewide, and he wants to see the initiative under way before his term expires in another three and a half years.

The idea for added buffers came from the governor’s first-ever Minnesota Pheasant Summit late last year. Since then, it has evolved to focus not only on additional habitat and space for pollinators, but also on improving water quality.