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Hunter: Minnesota’s Mandates Fight Algae Better Than South Dakota’s Voluntary Buffer Strips

As coronavirus and zebra mussels ravage the prairie, our man Jon Hunter reminds us that South Dakota leaders are also failing to address an old plague: algae in Lake County!

Take a look at Lake Madison and Lake Herman, where algae of various colors are painting the shoreline rocks and sandy beaches. At 1 o’clock yesterday, a very sunny Sunday afternoon, there were no swimmers at the beaches at Lake Herman State Park.

We can’t blame them. Algae is not only unsightly, it can be a health hazard in certain forms, to both humans and animals.

…One of the best remedies are buffer strips, which are grasses or other vegetation planted along lakes, rivers and streams. The purpose is to filter nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment from adjacent land before it gets into waterways. Our neighbors to the east in Minnesota have been more aggressive about reducing nitrogen and phosphorus from getting into their lakes, by requiring buffer strips next to creeks and streams to control runoff. South Dakota has a voluntary program to plant buffer strips, with the state providing a 40 percent tax break for farmers. But the program attracted only 27 farmers who placed 292 acres in 12 counties in the first year.

We don’t expect any progress in the battle against excessive algae until someone in a leadership position—state, county or another local entity—decides to make it a priority and get others to join in [link added; Jon Hunter, “Face It: We Aren’t Winning Against Algae,” Madison Daily Leader, 2020.07.13].

What’s that, Jon? Freedom™ and Personal Responsibility® don’t mitigate threats to public health as effectively as aggressive state government action? Someone, quick, call the Governor!

9 Comments

  1. mike from iowa 2020-07-16 12:44

    Maybe Noem Nothing ought to try a $10 per algae and zebra mussel tail bounty. That should keep pheasant hunters collecting bounties and give pheasants a fighting chance to re-populate while no one is looking. Win-win.

  2. Jenny 2020-07-16 21:20

    Those progressive DFL environmentalists know how to get it done, after all, the Democrats have always been the ones that believes in taking care of the earth and protecting it, not Republicans.

  3. Debbo 2020-07-17 00:14

    When Gov. Dayton proposed 50 feet buffer strips in about 2015, fits were had. It was going to ruin farming and destroy the rural way of life. The GOP knew it was just one more sign of how the DFL is out to get rural folks.

    I believe the strips were shrunk to half that and I’m not sure how active enforcement is. Still, it’s an improvement.

    There’s plenty more to be done. I’d think farmers would prefer wide buffer strips to a banning of many crop chemicals. I prefer both.

  4. T 2020-07-17 09:51

    Lake Madison is green?! No way. That never happens.
    This wouldn’t have anything to do with farming techniques either, would it?

  5. TAG 2020-07-17 10:29

    I think a good strategy might be to quantify the damage done to local economies by discouragement of recreation in algae-infested lakes. Or costs associated with dredging them.

  6. Debbo 2020-07-19 15:12

    Today’s Strib has an article about Minnesota’s buffer strips.

    Among other things it says that compliance with the 2015 law is at 99%.

    The law requires public waters be buffered by natural vegetation at least 30 ft wide, with a 50 ft average.

    Public ditches, generally built, require 16.5 ft buffers.

    Some farmers who wanted help, $ or otherwise, were able to enter into a cost sharing or other agreement with state or fed governments.

    Local governments often bought 16.5 ft access rights. Farmers have the right to hay those margins. Authorities gain the right to maintain the ditches, though I think they allow farmers to hay them as well.

    is.gd/GtKFIn

  7. mike from iowa 2020-07-19 15:46

    According tp F-F-G magazine, sounds like the Boundary Waters Canoe area is about to get shuffled off to an iron ore mine or some damn thing.

  8. Debbo 2020-07-19 18:07

    A Chilean company, Antofagasta, wants to build a copper mine and refinery in the BWCA watershed. Every copper refinery ever built anywhere on the planet has leaked and been a super polluter. Minnesotans are fighting hard to stop it. Miners up in the Iron Range are doing the opposite. I think this has been going on for 7-8 years.

    Of course Polluting Pukeface and his pals are all for it. My scientist friends in St. Paul are part of the group using SCIENCE to stop it.

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