Buffer strip violators must pay
WILLMAR -- Four Kandiyohi County property owners will have to pay the price for restoring buffer strips along drainage ditches on their land. The four, who are all located south and southwest of Willmar, will share in the $4,624 expense to the co...
WILLMAR - Four Kandiyohi County property owners will have to pay the price for restoring buffer strips along drainage ditches on their land.
The four, who are all located south and southwest of Willmar, will share in the $4,624 expense to the county to re-seed the damaged strips.
Grass buffer strips that are 16½ feet wide are required on both sides of drainage ditches that have either undergone a redetermination of benefits or have had formal renovations that required the services of a viewer.
There are 26 parcels in the county that were seeded to grass under the state rule. Inspections earlier this year identified areas that needed to be repaired.
County drainage inspector Loren Engelby told the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday that recent inspections revealed that eight parcels were out of compliance.
In most cases the vegetation was damaged because of excessive tillage, overspray of herbicide or planting crops inside the buffer zone.
Statutory guidelines allow ditch authorities to make the repairs, which were initially funded from Kandiyohi County’s ditch fund, and then send a bill to the violating property owners.
This is the first time the county has taken this kind of action.
If the bill is not paid by a certain time, the expense will be put on a landowner’s property taxes.
Commissioner Dean Shuck said if landowners are not held financially accountable, then there is little incentive for them to maintain the integrity of the buffer strips.
Commissioner Harlan Madsen said if landowners don’t comply with the rules and if the ditch authority doesn’t enforce the laws, then agencies “from St. Paul” will do it.
“I absolutely endorse this,” Madsen said. “It’s the right thing to do.”