Every once in a while, amid the din and confusion of the Minnesota Legislature, lawmakers actually take notice of a good idea from out here in the hinterland.
This session that recognition takes the form of legislation called the Shoreland Buffers Pilot Program. The proposal was inspired by a 1998 shoreland protection measure in which $235,000 was appropriated for Cass County to buy some shoreland on Little Boy Lake. The impetus behind the purchase was to keep the shoreland from being developed.
The pilot program is aimed at helping out responsible shoreland owners who face pressure to sell undeveloped property that currently provides valuable tree buffers and other vegetative cover. The pressure comes in the form of high taxes and property valuations or monetary offers that are just too good to pass up.
There is tremendous developmental pressure on property surrounding Minnesota's lakes and rivers. A quick drive around the Brainerd lakes area will provide evidence of that mounting pressure and it's only going to get worse as the lakes area population grows.
The Brainerd lakes area has already seen homes and cabins built next to each other with only minimal buffer zones on many of our lakefronts. The concern of conservationists is that unfettered development could endanger the clean water and beautiful trees that attract people to this country in the first place.
Unrestricted development can lead to an increase in sediment and nutrient runoffs into the lakes. That, in turn, dirties the water and promotes algae growth.
This pilot program is specifically aimed at landowners with property within 1,000 feet of a lake or 300 feet of a river. Conservation easement contracts for periods of at least 20 years would be offered to land owners. Top priority goes to those willing to enter into permanent easement contracts.
Trees, wetlands, grasslands and clean water are all related in our environment. Common sense development will incorporate these elements so that the beauty of the lakes area is maintained.
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