No applications yet for Big Sioux riparian buffers, despite new South Dakota program

Which is another way of saying no one — a month into the program’s existence — has yet applied.

“We haven’t gotten any applications yet,” Roberts told JCA Co-Chair Rep. Chris Karr, R-Sioux Falls. “Hopefully, in the next month, we’ll get a few to roll in.”

In March, Gov. Kristi Noem signed House Bill 1256, which deposited $3 million (DANR) into a fund to create a watershed for the Big Sioux River region. Since then, the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources worked with wildlife and hunting groups, municipalities and one legislator to develop criteria for the program’s eligibility and mapped out creeks that deposit into the Big Sioux they thought could play critical roles in river cleanup.

A review of DANR’s riparian buffer initiative reveals that land must be within 120 feet of a body of water and possess existing perennial vegetation — or plans to cultivate such vegetation. The owner cannot cut the vegetation between May and the end of July, nor graze the land until October. Finally, the law requires “four inches of cover” be left.

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