ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gov. Mark Dayton celebrated the progress of his marquee environmental initiative Thursday and said he won’t bow to legislative pressure to postpone its November deadline.

Dayton and legislators passed a law in 2015 requiring buffer areas between cropland and waterways. Dayton and state officials said Thursday that nearly 75 percent of Minnesota counties are well on their way to meeting those requirements.

“This is about protecting the water of Minnesota for ourselves, our neighbors down the stream and future generations,” Dayton said. “This is our state. This is our water. It is our responsibility.”

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Department of Agriculture Commissioners Dave Fredrickson said he believes the state will meet a Nov. 1 deadline. The state has worked with over 350 different farms to address hundreds of practices to improve environment protections.

But some lawmakers are pushing to postpone that deadline or change the scope of the initiative with a number of bills. Dayton said he won’t sign that legislation, after having already loosened buffer requirements for private ditches last year.

There are 12 counties close to 100 percent compliance in the state and commissioners pointed to more than 2,800 changes to which areas require buffers a sign of the state’s willingness to work with Minnesotans concerned about the issue.

The buffers are 50-foot wide spaces between crops and water that are covered in tall native grasses. The roots and dirt filter out pollutants and help prevent the water banks from eroding.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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