Grant SWCD
712 Industrial Park Blvd
Elbow Lake, MN 56531


Monday – Friday
8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Buffer Strips

What is a buffer strip?

Buffer Strips consist of perennial vegetation planted around the edge of a lake, river, stream, wetland, or ditch that help protect the water body from runoff and also stabilizes the banks. The buffer protects the soil, improves water quality, enhances fish and wildlife habitat, and reduces maintenance costs for drainage systems.

Benefits of Conservation Buffers

  1. Slow water runoff
  2. Remove nutrients and pesticide runoff.
  3. Remove pathogen runoff.
  4. Reduce noise and odor.
  5. Serve as a food source for wildlife.
  6. Stabilize stream banks and reduce water temperature.
  7. Provide a setback distance for agricultural chemical use.

Buffer Requirements

Since 1998, Grant County Land Management Office has been working with landowners, through the Shoreland Management Ordinance, to implement 50 ft buffers on protected waters.  In lieu of the state of Minnesota’s buffer law, Grant County is continuing to administer buffer requirements on protected waters through this ordinance.

However, come November 1st, 2018,  land adjacent to  public ditch systems will require the installation of 16.5 ft of perennial vegetation. These requirements will be administered through the respective ditch systems legal authority. 

Authority/Buffer Width Requirements

Protected Waters

50 ft Buffer Requirement

Land Management Office
Greg Lillemon
(218) 685-8225

County Ditch Systems

16.5 ft Buffer Requirement

County  Ditch Inspector
Nick McFarlane
(218) 685-8300

BdSioux Ditch Systems

16.5 ft Buffer Requirement

District Administrator
Jamie Beyer
(320) 563-4185

SWCD Roles & Responsibilities

Buffer Compliance:

The Grant Soil and Water Conservation District, through statute, is tasked with assisting the various enforcement entities (listed above) with buffer compliance tracking. This tracking is completed on a parcel by parcel basis.

Buffer tracking will be completed in accordance with the Grant Soil and Water Conservation District’s Monitoring Plan for Buffer Compliance Tracking.

Alternative Practices:

The district is also responsible for assisting landowners with the implementation of alternative practices. These practices are intended as an alternative conservation option to the 16.5ft buffer requirement on county legal ditches. In Grant County, alternative practices are only allowed on ditches that are administered by the county and that have a negative slope (referring to areas that slope away from the legal ditch system). To get more information on alternative practices please contact the Grant SWCD office (218) 685-5395.

Buffer Establishment/Maintenance:

If desired, the district can provide buffer guidance for choosing a seed mix and controlling for weeds.