Soil and Water Conservation District presents 2019 report to Beltrami commissioners

Beltrami County Administration Building web art

BEMIDJI -- The Beltrami County Soil and Water Conservation District presented a recap of its work from last year to the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.

One area of activity highlighted in the report was reviewing compliance of the state's new water buffer law. According to the report, work began in May 2019 with 183 unique parcels owned by 31 landowners to be inspected for compliance.

Before inspections, the overall compliance was 92.9% on public ditches, which require a 16.5 foot, and 99.8% on public waterways, which need a 50-foot buffer. By July 1, the SWCD had inspected all 183 parcels and sent notices of noncompliance to each of the 31 landowners.

Responses from 28 landowners were received with plans to comply with the law. After a second inspection, compliance rose to 99.7% for public ditches and 100% for public waterways.

The report also included a reminder on the SWCD's role with One Watershed, One Plan, a program through the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources. The program provides funding for resource planning on a watershed-based scale.


The program is intended to prioritize, target and measure project implementation while accounting for upstream and downstream impacts. Beltrami County's SWCD works in three watersheds:

  • The Leech Lake River One Watershed, One Plan was approved in 2019. However, the SWCD's role is minor, as only 0.3% of the watershed is in the county.
  • The SWCD is an active partner in the development of the Thief River One Watershed, One Plan, which is in the final approval stages and will be completed this year.
  • The SWCD has been heavily involved with the Mississippi Headwaters One Watershed, One Plan, taking the role as the local lead.

Other highlights from the report included adding a conservation technician and buffer technician to the staff, as well as restoring 337 feet of shoreline.

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