ST. PAUL - Gary Haugen has lost his attempt to overturn a decades-old decision that forces him to install vegetative buffers.

The lawsuit, recently decided by the Minnesota Appeals Court, technically dealt with whether an unnamed streambed is public - and, thus, required to have buffers along it - or a private water course. Appeals judges ruled, like a district judge did earlier, that the 1980 Department of Natural Resources decision that it is public stands.

Minnesota's buffer law requires buffers up to 50 feet along lakes, rivers and streams and of 16½ feet along ditches.

Several landowners joined Haugen in the original lawsuit, but dropped out after state officials agreed to let them meet the 16½-foot mandate instead of the 50-foot one.

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Appeals judges ruled that the Haugen suit came too late, that the Department of Natural Resources is the governmental body that categorizes water bodies and the DNR properly gave the public notice before it made its 1980 decision.

"The court found that the argument the DNR failed to notify landowners the (public waters inventory) may be the basis for the requirement of buffers at someday in the future..." Joe Smentek of the Minnesota Soybean Association recently wrote. "Rest assured, legal challenges to the buffer law will continue for the foreseeable future."