Watonwan County Soil and Water Conservation District is offering an attractive financial alternative to planting corn and soybeans along lakes, streams and ditches. Landowners now have the option to enroll this land into the Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) Reserve Riparian Buffer Easement Program.
The goal of the program is to establish permanent vegetative buffers on land adjacent to surface waters (riparian land). Buffers trap sediment and immobilize nutrients and pesticides in field runoff, and provide important wildlife cover. This new initiative, administered by the Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Resources (BWSR), is targeting existing Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts, or land that is eligible for CRP enrollment.
Approximately 823,000 acres of CRP contracts will expire in Minnesota over the next 5 years and many of these acres would qualify for the buffer program.
The RIM Reserve Riparian Buffer Easement Program will pay landowners in Watonwan County an average of $5,400 per acre to enroll eligible cropland and CRP. Some non-cropland can be enrolled but it must be less than 50 percent of the easement area. Non-cropland is compensated at half the cropland payment rate.
Eligible landowners must have owned the property for one year prior to the application. Buffer widths must be a minimum of 50 feet and can be expanded to 200 feet in designated waterfowl nesting areas and up to 350 feet in floodplains. CRP contract holders will continue to receive CRP payments until their contract expires, at which time the land would roll into the permanent RIM easement.
Both water quality and wildlife habitat enjoy benefits of riparian easements. Water quality is protected as buffers filter snowmelt and rainfall runoff, reducing soil erosion. Additionally, native vegetation captures sediment, nutrients and pesticide residue, reducing nitrogen and phosphorus loading.
Wildlife species require food, water, and cover. Well managed riparian buffers generally support larger populations of wildlife because the buffer provides many habitat requirements.
Interested landowners should contact the Watonwan SWCD at (507) 375-3104 and speak with Jack or Aaron.