Buffer Law

Governor Mark Dayton signed the buffer initiative into law in June of 2015. The legislation was amended by the legislature in the 2016 and 2017 legislative sessions. The buffer law is intended to help protect our water resources from erosion and runoff, improving water quality. This buffer law is separate from the existing buffer requirement for public ditch systems pursuant to Minnesota Statute 103E.


  • On public waters, a 50-foot average (30-foot minimum width) continuous buffer of perennial vegetation.
  • On public ditches, a 16.5-foot average continuous buffer of perennial vegetation.

Installation Timeline

  • On public waters, buffers must be installed by November 1, 2017.
  • On public ditches, buffers must be installed by November 1, 2018.

Implementation & Enforcement

The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources has been delegated by the legislature to provide oversight for implementation of the buffer legislation statewide, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has mapped the bodies of water that will require a buffer.

The Mille Lacs County Buffer Ordinance (PDF), adopted on October 17, 2017, provides for the local enforcement of these requirements. The Mille Lacs Soil and Water Conservation District provides assistance to landowners in the implementation of buffers.