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BWSR works with partner agencies to increase the usefulness of current soils data, update soil surveys in the state, and provide technical support and training to local governments.

Excessive Soil Loss

Recent changes in statute have changed BWSR’s responsibilities in working with local governments to prevent excessive soil loss. During the 2015 legislative regular and 1st special sessions the law was changed by:

During the 2016 legislative session additional minor amendments were made relating to BWSR’s authority to impose administrative penalty orders (APOs), provided BWSR has adopted an APO procedures plan. (§103B.101, sub. 12 and 12a). In response to these changes, BWSR has developed a Draft APO Plan, which is now available for public comment (see below).

Draft APO Plan Revised in Response to Comments

BWSR has developed an Administrative Penalty Plan to support the implementation of Minnesota Statutes §103B.101, subd. 12(a) and (b) and §103F.401 to §103F.455, relating to prohibition of excessive soil loss.

Administrative Penalty Order (APO) Plan for Enforcement of Excessive Soil Loss Requirements includes an overview of the enforcement responsibilities of counties and BWSR related to the excessive soil loss prohibitions of Minn. Stat. §103F.415, a model county administrative penalty order plan for use as guidance when counties choose to use APO as an enforcement mechanism, and the APO plan that BWSR will use when it is the enforcement authority.

A notice requesting public comment on the draft plan was placed in the State Register on February 12, 2018, with a 30-day comment period extending through March 12, 2018. In response to comments, the plan has been revised to incorporate more detailed information on the availability of cost-share funds and the mediation process, and to use the term “tract” rather than “parcel,” since “tract” is used in statute to describe a land area that can be evaluated for excessive soil loss (§103F.421).  Revised text is shown in red.

Questions regarding the draft APO plan may be addressed to

BWSR has also developed an Interim Guide for counties and SWCDs without a county soil loss ordinance (see below). The guide, published in May 2016, walks through the procedural steps needed to respond to complaints associated with agricultural activities that may be causing excessive soil loss.

Excessive Soil Loss Rulemaking

BWSR is now in the early stages of updating the state rules governing excessive soil loss. A Request for Comments was published in the State Register on February 6, 2017.  BWSR has been reaching out to stakeholders and technical experts.  An initial meeting of a stakeholder advisory group was held on February 20, 2018 (see summary below).  Additional meetings will be scheduled in the coming months. For further information, send an email to or contact Suzanne Rhees at 651-296-0768.

Soils data and resources

Current Projects

Tillage and Erosion Survey Project

BWSR was allocated funding from the Clean Water Fund (M.L. 2016, chapter 172, article 2, section 11) for a program to systematically collect data and produce county, watershed, and statewide estimates of soil erosion caused by water and wind along with tracking adoption of conservation measures to address erosion.

The purposed of this project is to:

Program Update - January 2018

Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR): Southeast Minnesota Soil Health and Cover Crop Initiatives

BWSR was allocated funds from the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF) through Legislative Citizens Commission on Minnesota Resources (ML 2015, chapter 76, section 2, sub 4e) to promote cover crops as a means of protecting soil and water quality in southeastern Minnesota through training and education for local practitioners, economic analysis of implementation, and on-farm demonstration sites. This effort must be coordinated with the University of Minnesota Forever Green Initiative. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2018.


Field Activities

Soils Education

Dig it! The Secrets of Soil Link to Smithsonian Museum site- for interactive content and soils-related curriculum, see the website for this exhibit from the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.



Minnesota Counties with a Soil Loss Ordinance

Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources

520 Lafayette Road North, St. Paul, MN 55155 | (651) 296-3767 | Fax (651) 297-5615 | TTY (800) 627-3529

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