West Otter Tail

Soil and Water Conservation District

218-739-4694 ext. 4 | 506 Western Ave. Fergus Falls, MN 56537 | Hours: 7:30AM-4:00PM Monday-Friday More...


Otter Tail County

Shoreland Managment


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 In March 2014, the West Otter Tail SWCD, East Otter Tail SWCD, and Otter Tail County developed and adopted the Otter Tail County Buffer Initiative. Otter Tail County is unique in that there are 1,048 lakes, more than any other county in the United States, and 1,174 miles of rivers, streams, and ditches which totals 4,618 miles of shoreline. Because of this unique resource West Otter Tail SWCD, East Otter Tail SWCD and Otter Tail County are working in cooperation to protect the water resources within Otter Tail County.

Purpose: The purpose of this initiative is to assist landowners and the County to move in the direction of 100% compliance with Minnesota’s new Buffer Law (Sec. 79. Minnesota Statutes 2015, Section 103F.48), existing Shoreland Management Rule for Agricultural Use Standards (Minnesota Rules, Chapter 6120, part 6120.3300, subpart 7, item B), and Otter Tail County’s Shoreland Management Ordinance for Agricultural Uses Standards, as noted in Section IV. 4.B. on page 17 in the Shoreland Management Ordinance of Otter Tail County, Minnesota (8/1/13). Click here to find more about the Otter Tail County Buffer Initiative


Conservation buffers are best described as strips or other areas of land in permanent vegetation that help control pollutants, mitigate the movement of sediment, nutrients, and pesticideds within farm fields and from farm fields. Filter strips, riparian buffers (predominantly trees and shrubs next to water courses), field borders, grassed waterways, field windbreaks, shelterbelts, and contour grass strips are all examples of conservation buffers. The small amount of land taken out of production helps producers meet enviornmental and economic goals.
Buffers can be especially helpful to you in maintaining a productive, profitable, and responsible farming or ranching operation. Today, America's farms and ranches do more than produce crops and livestock. They play an important role in maintaining the environmental quality enjoyed by all citizens. Conservation buffers can help you protect soil, air, and water quality and improve fish and wildlife habitat...while you demonstrate your commitment to land stewardship.
You can use conservation buffers along streams and around lakes or wetlands. They can also be installed within fields or at field edges. Buffers are most effective when they are combined with other practices, such as conservation tillage, nutrient management, and integrated pest management. Together, these practices can provide you with an effective, profitable conservation program.
Key Messages
Conservation buffers protect soil, improve air and water quality, enhance fish and wildlife habitat, and beautify the landscape. Conservation buffers shows a producer’s commitment to conservation and their willingness to protect the environment.  
Benefits of Conservation Buffers
  • Slow water runoff.
  • Remove up to 50% or more of nutrients and pesticides in runoff.
  • Remove up do 60% or more of pathogens in runoff.
  • Remove up to 75% or more of sediment in runoff.
  • Reduce noise and odor.
  • Serve as a source of food, nesting cover, and shelter for wildlife.
  • Stabilize streambanks and reduce water temperature in stream.
  • Provide a setback distance for agricultural chemical use from watercourses.
  • Reduce downstream flooding
  • Represents profitable, common sense conservation for landowners.
  • Reduced risk of tractor rollover due to set back of steep ditch or creek.
  • Take advantage of incentives. provided to establish buffers from local, state, and federal  programs.
  • Establishment of natural vegetation.

The West Otter Tail Soil and Water Conservation District is committed to the policy that all persons shall have equal access to its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, public assistance status, veteran status or sexual orientation.

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