Pond & Buffer Management

What is a Buffer?

Vegetative buffers often occur along streams and waterbodies. While many buffers exist naturally, the planting of buffer vegetation along waterways is a commonly used stormwater Best Management Practice to help stabilize streambanks and minimize streambank erosion. The buffer vegetation also filters out pollutants in the stormwater runoff. Buffer sign

Buffer plantings can include trees, shrubs, grasses, wildflowers and other vegetation that are suited for buffer habitats. When buffers are installed as stormwater BMPs, native plants are often used since the native vegetation is accustomed to local conditions. Another advantage of using native vegetation is that it provides habitat for native wildlife. 

Buffers are owned by the city and typically marked with a sign on the property boundary edge. If unsure about the area of your buffer, contact the city for assistance.

The city does allow certain uses of the buffer:

  • Residents may enhance the vegetation by planting and maintaining native species with support from the natural resource department. Species include native grasses, forbs, and flowers. Seed mixes include MNDOT approved mixes for Stormwater Facilities, Wetlands, Native Grassland and Prairie.  

  • Residents may maintain up to a 10 foot wide mowed path to the water’s edge for access and sight lines.

  • Residents may access the area and pond for recreation. Please keep in mind the purpose of the pond is to remove contaminates from surface water runoff. Water quality in a pond is not tested against standards for recreational uses.

  • Public use of the property is allowed that does not impact or damage the vegetation.

  • Removal of invasive or unwanted woody vegetation. Buckthorn and willows may be maintained and removed by the adjacent property owner. Arrangements for material disposal should be made prior to removal. The city is not responsible for disposal. 

  • Management of the land that promotes native species with support from the natural resource department.

Buffer Example

What is NOT allowed in the Buffer?

  • No landscaping may be completed in the buffer. This includes mulch, sand, pavers and rocks.

  • No manmade structures are allowed in the buffer area.

  • Storage of any material is prohibited.

Recreational Uses

Residents may use stormwater ponds and their buffers for recreational uses as long as those uses don’t permanently damage the natural vegetation or compromise the shore. The city does not restrict the following:

Swimming - Some ponds are large enough where residents may desire to swim in them. Any swimming is done at the property owner’s risk.

Boating - Non-motorized boats such as kayaks, canoes, and paddle boats can be used on ponds. Boats may not be stored on city property and must be moved to private property when not in use.

Fishing - Some ponds have been found to support fish and residents may fish from the shore.

Skating - Ponds can be used for skating and other non-motorized winter activities. As always, It is up to the user to verify ice depth is suitable for use.

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