November 1, 2018 brought about the final statewide deadline for vegetated buffers to be installed bordering certain waters in Minnesota. While you may have everything completely taken care of, have no plans to gain compliance or are already enrolled in a program, letting us know what your status is will be very helpful to continue an efficient implementation of the buffer law.

Currently, the SWCD has documented about 324 parcels out of 2,365 as non-compliant in the county, regardless of intent or a plan to get compliant. This number does not include one-year waivers that were signed in 2017. As of the SWCD Board Meeting on September 27, 2018, Yellow Medicine County was 86.3% compliant.

After November 1, it is very difficult or impossible to sign up for technical and financial programs to be compliant with the law. Once the law actually takes full effect, the SWCD and Yellow Medicine County will begin to formulate a final plan to notify landowners of official non-compliance, contact them with options to correct the situation, and indicate the enforcement actions to ensue. This process will likely begin in early 2019. Yellow Medicine SWCD also expects new aerial imagery to be published mid-summer 2019 to give clear indication of buffers that have been established in 2017 through 2018.

Tentatively, a landowner can expect action to be taken in Mid-2019, at the earliest. The only certain way to avoid compliance issues to verify, verbally or in writing, that the SWCD is aware that you have taken care of your buffer requirement. On 50’ streams, alternative practices still are available and applicable. On 16.5’ public drainage systems, while not common or available after a redetermination of benefits, alternative narrower buffers are available.

Redeterminations of benefits are a process that reassesses the benefits that a drainage system provide owners. During this process, Since the early 1970s, Minnesota Statute requires the drainage system purchases a 16.5’ vegetated easement along the drainage system, also known as a 16.5’ or one rod buffer, similar to that which is required for the buffer law. For more information on completing this for your system, contact the Yellow Medicine County Drainage Department.

The only way to know if you can utilize an alternative practice is to contact the SWCD and discuss those options. The SWCD is available to provide measuring service for your buffer. However, you can feel free to measure your buffer from the highest point on a ditch bank. 50’ buffers have site specific requirements that depend on a lot of factors. Buffers are a complex and ongoing issue for many operations. The best way to achieve or ensure compliance is to involve the SWCD so you know all of the options and the SWCD knows of all of your plans and intents. To be accomplish this, Contact Tyler Knutson at the SWCD, as soon as possible.

The mission of the Yellow Medicine Soil and Water Conservation District is to provide technical, financial, and educational support to its residents. For more information on the SWCD and its programs and how they affect you contact the SWCD at (320) 669-4442 x 3. Our website also has a lot of information on all of our programs and services. Visit to learn more and stay up to date on all Yellow Medicine SWCD has to offer and what we are working on. You can also like us on Facebook.