Invasive species

Gov. Dayton proposes 50-foot waterway buffers

The Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, like much of agriculture, was surprised Friday when Gov. Mark Dayton announced at the Department of Natural Resources Roundtable that he will propose to the Legislature that all waterways in the state must have a 50-foot buffer.

MSGA President George Goblish was more than a little taken aback by the announcement.

“I was surprised since the MSGA works closely with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and other State and Federal agencies like NRCS on conservation issues of this nature,” Goblish said. “The MSGA will review this newest proposal and will be very engaged in discussing this with the Governor’s office.”

Dayton said he expects to have some pushback from farmers and landowners affected by the proposal. Dayton said he expects the enforcement of 50-foot buffers to create an additional 125,000 acres of pheasant habitat as well as promote cleaner water.

Minnesota CEO Tom Slunecka, who attended the DNR Roundtable in Brooklyn Park, said the announcement was a disappointment for Minnesota soybean farmers.

“Minnesota farmers are true environmentalist and have always worked to find realistic solutions that provide tangible results,” Slunecka said. “Maximizing wildlife habitat is complicated and seldom do broad brush approaches achieve the desired outcome.”

Dayton’s announcement came as a surprise to others, as well. The Governor didn’t inform agriculture groups of his intentions. According the Star Tribune, DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr only recently learned of Dayton’s decision.

Landwehr told attendees that the DNR will convene a committee of state and federal agencies, soil and water conservation districts and conservation group leaders to develop a pheasant restoration program by spring. He said the committee will develop a plan that incorporates Dayton’s proposed waterway buffer changes, assuming approval by the Legislature.