Interesting info on MN DNR and state of land use

Bob Peters

Active member
I saved the sports page from the Minneapolis Star and Sickle December 20th, 2020. In it there's an interview of DNR commish Sarah Strommen by Dennis Anderson. It covered many issues, but this question stuck out to me. Q: If you proposed to Gov. Walz an aggressive marketing campaign intended to stop wetland drainage and to better manage roadsides for pollinators and other wildlife-recognizing that roadsides represent a significant portion of remaining wildlife habitat in many parts of the state, while also recognizing the state's farm lobby would oppose these initiatives-would the governor allow it?
A: I think our approach is more explaining why these issues are important instead of issuing directives.
 

remy3424

Active member
A tough one to answer without having discussed with the governor about that exact thing. They might have to place a financial incentive to slow the wetland drainage, seems when farmers make money, they then have the funds to make "land improvements". Locally we were very dry in my area, this seems to be a good opportunity for farmers to but tile in traditional wet spots in their fields. Creating roadside habitat, that sounds like it has complications.
 

nater

New member
The political will is simply not there to enforce anything with roadsides, even where the state does have jurisdiction (State highways). Buffer law enforcement proved that. The vast majority of the roads in rural MN are NOT under state jurisdiction or ownership so it's even less likely there since it would have to be 100% incentive-based (ie tax $$$). There may be opportunities for local road authorities to pursue a more active roadside program. Kandiyohi County, for example, is apparently considering a roadside habitat program for monarchs where the goal would be to provide habitat in 5% of ditches.

As for wetland drainage, DA's question is a bit misleading. I assume what he is talking about in regard to increased "wetland drainage" is adding or upgrading tile in already farmed fields, which are hardly functional (or legally determined) wetlands. The DNR can't enforce a law that doesn't exist, and good luck passing a law that keeps farmers from putting tile in tilled fields.

Wetlands that weren't farmed prior to Swampbuster (1985) and MN's Wetland Conservation Act (1991) ARE protected, and there is regular enforcement action when landowners/farmers attempt to drain them (which does happen all the time).
 

Flushedup

Member
^^^ Except they don't get caught until years later and there can be lengthy legal battles that can cost MN taxpayers more money because of it. This is a no win situation from the side of enforcement. The buffer enforcement is easily seen from the road, that 3 acre pothole that was there (or was it?) not so much.

@nater sounds reasonably learned on this subject however I would challenge the last sentence.
 

nater

New member
^^^ Except they don't get caught until years later and there can be lengthy legal battles that can cost MN taxpayers more money because of it. This is a no win situation from the side of enforcement. The buffer enforcement is easily seen from the road, that 3 acre pothole that was there (or was it?) not so much.

@nater sounds reasonably learned on this subject however I would challenge the last sentence.
You're right. Farmers do often get away with draining stuff not visible from the road, although regular aerial imagery makes this a lot more difficult. I guess my point was more - you don't need "marketing" to stop that activity, nor do you really need new laws - you need better enforcement.
 
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