Governors Daugaard of South Dakota and Dayton of Minnesota advocate vegetated buffer strips along our prairie rivers as a practical and low-cost method for reducing water pollution, saving wetlands, enhancing wildlife habitat and protecting our soils. As a result of this leadership, the Governors may also accomplish, unintentionally, a conservation goal that federal agencies have been avoiding for years — creating a recovery plan for endangered species in the Big Sioux, James, Vermillion and Rock Rivers.
Friends of the Big Sioux River will partner with the Butterfly House & Aquarium in offering events and educational exhibits throughout 2017. The goals of the Butterfly House is to increase pollinator habitat, and to reduce runoff from Midwestern watersheds that contribute to the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. These goals are similar to the FBSR goals of clean water by reducing runoff through the expansion of vegetated riparian strips along waterways, and sustainable development and landscape practices in urban centers. These buffer strips will increase pollinator habitat while decreasing chemical runoff, which will decrease South Dakota’s contribution to the dead zone.
The first event will be held on Earth Day, Saturday, April 22nd at the Butterfly House on the Outdoor Campus in Sioux Falls. More details will be announced on this event and future events in the upcoming weeks. If you are not bfamiliar with this attraction we’ve provided a link to the Butterfly House /Aquarium to learn more.
Senate Bill 66 – This bill reduces taxes on land planted in vegetated riparian buffer strips along waterways. It reduces the property taxes paid on 50′ to 120′ wide buffer strips by 40% . This is a voluntary action by the landowner and is not a mandatory action. We support this bill as it removes the tax disincentive for maintaining buffer strips along waterways and lakes in South Dakota.
This bill has passed both houses and we expect the Governor to sign the bill into law.
Although this bill covers over 11,000 miles of rivers and streams, it does not cover all streams and lakes that may be very important to local communities. Hopefully, future legislative sessions will find ways to address these specific water bodies..
The federal mandate to blend corn-based ethanol with gasoline has resulted in a number of unintended and devastating consequences. The recent demand for corn to fill our fuel tanks–as well as feed ourselves and our livestock–has prompted landowners to turn more and more of their lands into fields. As a result, deforestation rates in the upper plains have more than doubled, grasslands have been removed from CRP, wildlife habitat have been destroyed, water quality has declined, and water consumption has increased. The following report details the unintended effects of an ethanol-driven fuel economy and calls on Congress to fix the Renewable Fuel Standard. Read more at “Fueling Destruction.”
This year, the Office of the Inspector General conducted a study on wetland conservation that concluded the National Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) has seriously failed to protect upper Midwest wetlands. According to the report, the NRCS has made several rulings that violate the USDA stipulation that farmers who drain wetlands for production can lose farm program payment. This oversight has led to the conversion of wetlands to cropland in South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa. The report highlights the importance of wetlands as the link between land and water and as “some of the most productive and dynamic habitats in the world” (1). The purpose of the audit and subsequent report is to make recommendations that reduce the destruction of these important water systems.
Read the full report here: https://www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/10601-0003-31.pdf.