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Buffer change passes committee

ST. PAUL — Changes in Minnesota's year-old law requiring vegetative buffers received approval of a Senate committee Wednesday.

Over objections of environmental groups, a Senate agriculture committee on a split voice vote moved Sen. Rod Skoe’s bill to extend until 2025 the time when all buffers must be in place. Current law sets that limit at 2018.

“What we do not want to do is to backslide and potentially reduce the water quality benefits,” Scott Strand of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy told the committee.

Sen. Terri Bonoff, D-Minnetonka, said she also feared that more pollution would enter Minnesota’s waters if buffers are delayed. Skoe, D-Clearbrook, said that landowners need more time to comply with the law. His legislation also would transfer jurisdiction of the law to local agencies from the state. Last year’s law requires that all rivers, streams and public drainage ditches be buffered by 30- to 50-foot strips of vegetation to reduce erosion and pollution being dumped into water.


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