Legislative Update: Minnesota’s Buffers Bill Passes First Committee in Senate

Pheasants Forever is giving their full support of Minnesota buffers and potential legislation that if implemented, will have profound positive impacts for water quality and wildlife habitat in the state. Introduced earlier this week as a directive from Governor Mark Dayton, H.F. 1534 and S.F. 1537 propose to enforce 50-foot buffers on both sides of all perennial waters in Minnesota.
On Thursday, March 12, Governor Dayton addressed his main concerns for the health of Minnesota’s natural resources during a press conference, showing unrelenting support for a statewide buffer initiative which has the potential to establish 125,000 acres of water quality buffer strips in the state. Later that evening, the Environment and Energy Committee of the Minnesota Senate moved the bill forward where it now faces the Senate Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development Committee next week. Pheasants Forever testified to both the Minnesota House and Senate for the importance of the Bill when first introduced on the floor of the Minnesota Legislature.  
Emerging from the Minnesota Pheasant Summit as one of several ideas for growing the state’s pheasant population, buffers provide multi-purpose solutions for wildlife habitat, water quality, and soil erosion. The new legislation was introduced amidst a recent study from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency showing alarming levels of toxins and nitrates in lakes and waterways of several southwest counties in the state. 
“Future generations are depending upon our vision today for clean waters, healthy prairies and abundant wildlife in harmony with sustainable agricultural production,” said Howard Vincent, President and CEO of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. “Governor Dayton’s leadership in support of buffers provides the starting point for a future all Minnesotans can be proud of passing along to our children.”

Next, the Minnesota Senate Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development Committee will consider the legislation. Pheasants Forever members and upland conservation supporters are encouraged to contact these committee members and voice support for the passage of SF 1537:
Senator Dan Sparks - sen.dan.sparks@senate.mn
Senator Matt Schmit - sen.matt.schmit@senate.mn
Senator Gary Dahms - sen.gary.dahms@senate.mn
Senator Terri Bonoff - sen.terri.bonoff@senate.mn
Senator Kent Eken - sen.kent.eken@senate.mn
Senator Foung Hawj - Use email form located at www.senate.mn/senatorhawjemail
Senator Lyle Koenen - sen.lyle.koenen@senate.mn
Senator Carla Nelson - sen.carla.nelson@senate.mn
Senator Ann Rest - Use email form located at www.senate.mn/senatorrestemail
 Senator Carrie Ruud - sen.carrie.ruud@senate.mn
Senator Bill Weber - sen.bill.weber@senate.mn

Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources