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Riparian Buffers: Riparian Area Management: Image


Riparian Area Management

RAM was developed in 2008 as our first buffer program as a compliment to CRP. 

Eligibility Requirements:
• Pasture acres along BSRP priority water bodies, within the 100-year floodplain;
• 30 foot buffer minimum;
• No grazing allowed;
• Haying is allowed once per year between June 15th and August 31st;

• Noxious weeds and other non-desirable species must be controlled. 

Some landowners also decide to plant shelter belts, which BSRP cost-shares. 

Landowners meeting these eligibility requirements and who are willing to adopt these practices may then be offered a 10 or 15 year contract which includes a one-time, up-front payment of $60-80 per acre per year (e.g. 25 acres enrolled for 10 years at $70/acre = a $17,500 one-time payment).

The BSRP also offers a program called Seasonal Riparian Area Management (SRAM) which was introduced in 2013. Since then, SRAM now has the vast majority of enrollment due to the allowed haying and grazing uses. Since 2013, 2,926 acres of land have been enrolled in SRAM and RAM, totaling 394,481 linear feet or 74.66 miles of stream protection.

Landowners appreciate our adaptable approach to buffer programs because they can still utilize their land, in addition to being great for water quality.

Riparian Buffers: Riparian Area Management: Accessibility Policy

Before applying for your own RAM project,
please read and understand the following:

  • This application is subject to the approval of the Big Sioux River Project (BSRP) Senior Watershed Coordinator and the Minnehaha Conservation District (MCD) based on project priorities. You must obtain prior approval for any work planned to be eligible for cost-share.


  • Marginal pastureland located on or within a maximum distance of 2 miles from a priority 303(d) impaired water body within the Big Sioux River Project (BRSP) watershed will be eligible for the RAM program. Eligible streams will be determined by the Project Coordinator and South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources (SD DENR). Enrolled acres shall not be grazed but will be allowed to hay.


  • Buffers shall be immediately adjacent and parallel to a perennial, intermittent, seasonal, or permanent stream or permanent water body and will be designed using BSRP and SD DENR guidelines for the RAM program. A minimum of 30-foot and maximum of 120-foot distance from the water body will be followed. The maximum buffer distance may be increased to 180 feet if a minimum of 3 rows of trees are established within suitable acres of the riparian area. A maximum of $10,000 cost-share for trees and fabric is allowed.


  • On Cropland the rental rate based on soil type is established for the year by the county United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (USDA FSA) office for Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) practices will be used as the basis for payment. On marginal pastureland $70/acre will be used as the basis for payment.


  • Management of the enrolled acres is required to create plant diversity for the benefit of wildlife and enhancement of the permanent cover. The management options are clipping, haying, mowing, raking, and removal. Clipping, haying, or mowing shall be completed only once during the summer after June 15 through August 31 with bales removed within 30 days.


  • The MCD, BSRP Senior Watershed Coordinator, and associated partners will be granted access and allowed to inspect the RAM acres enrolled on the property listed above throughout the lifespan of the program. Vegetative spot checks to verify program compliance will be conducted at various times during the contract term on land enrolled in the program.

  • All invoices and receipts must be submitted to the MCD to be eligible for cost-share reimbursement. If applicable, 75% of actual cost for grass planting and trees/fabric will be funded.


  • All final RAM contracting should be completed by March 1 of any given year to be considered for enrollment into the program beginning April 1 of the year.  Once a contract is signed, I will be responsible for the maintenance of the enrolled acres (10 or 15 years) and will follow the contract and associated Management Plan for the lifespan of the program.


Any questions can be directed to BSRP Senior Watershed Coordinator Barry Berg.

Riparian Buffers: Riparian Area Management: Text


Riparian Buffers: Riparian Area Management: Job Application

Legal Description (Township, Range, Section, and 1/4 Section)

Is the pasture owned or rented by the applicant?

Thanks, we'll be in touch shortly!


If you would prefer to send in a paper application, please download the file below. A sample management plan and contract are also below.




Riparian Buffers: Riparian Area Management: Files
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