State Reps. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) and Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon) recently announced the introduction of House Bill (HB) 460, legislation to exempt riparian buffers from property taxes in an effort to encourage more landowners in the western basin of Lake Erie to install these agricultural barriers, known for filtering nutrients that cause harmful algal blooms.
“Extensive research has proven that riparian buffers are effective filters for nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, sulfur and magnesium,” said Patterson. “Excessive levels of nitrogen and phosphorus are of particular concern in the nation’s streams and lakes due to their ability to cause harmful algal blooms. Understanding the tight profit margins associated with farming, removing land from agricultural production is not financially possible for most farmers in Ohio. By removing the tax burden, we hope HB 460 will enable landowners to help address Lake Erie water quality issues.”
Consisting of non-invasive, perennial vegetation, HB 460 defines riparian buffers as strips of land between 35 and 100 feet in width that border a permanent body of water or wetlands. To ensure the legislation will not negatively affect local governments and schools, HB 460 requires the state to reimburse local taxing units for any resulting revenue losses.
“Hidden within this piece of tax legislation lies a real opportunity to do some good for our Great Lake,” said Sheehy. “It’s no secret that Ohio’s northern coast is under threat from harmful, man-made pollutants— a threat which, unfortunately, environmental regulation alone cannot solve. With this legislation, we begin the process of rebuilding Lake Erie’s complex system of biodiversity and interdependence right here in Columbus. Of course, all over the Great Lakes region, you’ll see a fierce pride in our natural surroundings. In that spirit, Rep. Patterson and I join a national effort to protect our water resources for generations to come.”
HB 460 was introduced earlier this week and is currently awaiting committee assignment.