Anglers concerned about possible changes to buffers

Anglers concerned about buffer zones

SAVAGE, Minn. -- This weekend kicked off Minnesota's stream trout season. While it's an exciting time for anglers, some are concerned about proposed legislation that could affect trout streams.

The House version of the omnibus environment bill includes changes to the state's buffer law. Gov. Mark Dayton and Minnesota lawmakers passed a law in 2015 requiring so-called buffers between cropland and waterways.

"This language is really a back door to getting buffers reduced on trout stream tributaries," said Dan Callahan with Twin Cities Trout Unlimited.

Callahan went on to say, "In the House bill they want to take areas that have been under 50-foot buffers, mostly along trout stream tributaries, and drop that back to 16.5 feet."

The change in language has to do with what's classified as "shoreland." You can read HF888 here.

"Although they'll say, 'This is just a tweak of the language. We're only going to say that areas without shoreland classifications are going to end up with smaller buffers,' it's not really true. Because that's 70 percent of the rural area streams. We're talking about 2,000 miles of streams in the southeastern part of the state," Callahan said.

Callahan said he is concerned about having "double the dirt" washing into streams.

Rep. Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) told KARE 11 it's a work in progress and that the language in the bill is meant to help put the right buffer in the right place.

In a statement, he said, "HF888 will clarify the intent of the original buffer law and ensure that rivers, lakes and streams have the larger 50' average buffer and agricultural ditches have the 16.5' buffer, which has been existing law and practice for decades. If Trout Unlimited believes any designated trout stream would be impacted by the bill, we can work with them to address their concerns and ensure they are properly protected."

An environment conference committee will hash out the differences between the Senate and House bills and come up with a final bill that will then go to the full House and Senate for final votes.

Rep. Torkelson said that committee will most likely meet this week.

© 2017 KARE-TV


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