Watershed Connections - August 2015

Watershed Connections

August 2015

Applications open for Minnesota River Congress action board

MN River Congress 7-23-15

Applications are being accepted for the first Minnesota River Congress action board. It will govern the group being organized to coordinate and promote work to improve natural and economic resources in the 15,000-square-mile river basin covering much of southwestern Minnesota.

About 70 people attending the fourth Congress meeting July 23 approved the organization structure, application form,  and purpose statements, and affirmed the process under way for not-for-profit, tax-exempt status. About ten organizations set up display tables for the ‘networking fair’ preceding the Congress meeting.

State officials attending the Congress in New Ulm expressed support: Reps. Paul Torkelson and Clark Johnson, DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr, and DNR southern region manager Dennis Frederickson. “The Minnesota River basin needs a voice in the legislative process,” says Rep. Johnson. “This Congress is a major step in that process.”

The action board would be composed of one representative from each of the basin’s 13 watersheds, 14 people from sectors including business, agriculture, recreation, and local government, and six state agency staff. The one-page application form asks for watershed residence and sector, and a brief statement of interest and qualifications.

The first ‘official’ reference to the Minnesota River Congress appears in proposed legislation for the creation of a new Minnesota River Commission. A bill (SF 2204) was introduced this year in the Senate, which mentions the Congress in a citizen advisory role. The Congress voted to table endorsement of the bill until the next Congress meeting tentatively scheduled for Nov. 12.

Congress promoters believe there is a need for a basin-wide organization following the dissolution of the former Minnesota River Board. Action board application forms are available by contacting Scott Sparlin, sesparlin@gmail.com. More information about the Minnesota River Congress is available at: www.watershedalliance.blogspot.com/. Photo: Rep. Clark Johnson addresses the July 23 Congress; Rep. Paul Torkelson is seated at right.

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Legislative Water Commission tours water quality certified dairy in Stearns County

klaverkamp farm

Members of the Legislative Water Commission visited the St. Cloud area Aug. 18 to see the improvements that led to an Agricultural Water Quality Certification for the Dean Klaverkamp dairy farm south of St. Augusta. Previously, manure and sediment from the 200-cow farm affected nearby Johnson Creek.

Working with the Stearns SWCD, the Klaverkamps installed a manure stacking slab, slurry store, concrete settling basin, and vegetated treatment area. A stream crossing and fencing keep cows from entering the stream, which is bordered by a vegetated buffer. "There really was no downside to it (certification)," says Dean, "because we already were doing most of the work." 

The Legislative Water Commission was created by the 2014 legislature (Chap. 312, Sec. 3) to "review water policy reports and recommendations of the Environmental Quality Board, the Board of Water and Soil Resources, the Pollution Control Agency, the Department of Natural Resources, the Metropolitan Council, and other water-related reports as may be required by law or the legislature." Current members are: Sen. Bev Scalze, Co-ChairRep. Paul Torkelson, Co-ChairSen. Roger ChamberlainRep. David BlySen. Gary DahmsRep. Matt DeanSen. Carrie RuudRep. Peter FischerSen. Matt SchmitRep. Rod HamiltonSen. Charles Wiger; and Rep. Clark Johnson. Other stops on the Aug. 18 tour included the St. Cloud wastewater treatment plant, Golden Plump, and a Discovery Farm near Sauk Centre.

Photo (L-R): Mark Lefebvre, Stearns SWCD; Marcie Weinandt, MDA; Dean Klaverkamp; Dennis Fuchs, Stearns SWCD. 

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Experience the Minnesota River with Paddle Forward

paddle forward

This fall Paddle Forward will be paddling the entire length of the Minnesota River between Sept.1 and Oct.12. Friends of the Minnesota Valley is partnering with Wild River Academy/Paddle Forward to get as many people as possible on the Minnesota River to share the Paddle Forward experience for a day. You can bring your own canoe or kayak or register for a seat in one of our watercraft. Register online. Seating is limited. For more information please contact Ted L. Suss at tedlsuss@gmail.com. See the Paddle Forward website for the Minnesota River schedule. Anyone can follow the Paddle Forward adventure on Facebook, and they offer a special curriculum resource for teachers. Donations are welcome to help support Paddle Forward programs. Photo: Paddle Forward website.

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Smithsonian Water/Ways exhibit to debut in Minnesota in 2016


Water/Ways, a new exhibition and community engagement tool from the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street (MoMS) initiative in partnership with the Minnesota Humanities Center, will be touring Minnesota communities in 2016-2017.

The initiative is designed to reconnect Minnesotans to our water and the need to become more actively involved in its protection by using, in addition to science, the tools of story, history, faith, ethics, and the artsMinnesota is one of only five states chosen by the Smithsonian to pilot this new traveling exhibit. Six greater Minnesota communities will explore the meaning of water – by telling their local water stories and collectively envisioning their water future.

The first exhibit will be June 25-Aug. 5, 2016 at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center in Kandiyohi County. Partners so far inlcude: MPCA, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Kandiyohi County (AIS & SWCD), Shakopee Creek Headwaters Project, Chippewa River Watershed Project, Middle Fork Crow River Watershed District, City of Spicer, City of New London, New London-Spicer Schools, DNR, New London Area Arts Alliance, Crow River Organization of Water, and Kandiyohi County Historical Society.

The remaining sites are:
Aug. 13-Sept. 25, 2016: St. Peter (Nicollet County) Nicollet County Historical Society.
Oct. 1-Nov. 13, 2016: Red Wing (Goodhue County) Goodhue County Historical Society.
Nov. 19, 2016-Jan. 1, 2017: Sandstone/Pine City (Pine County) Audubon Center of the North Woods.
Jan. 7-Feb. 19, 2017: Lanesboro (Fillmore County) Lanesboro Arts.
Feb. 25-Apr. 9, 2017: Detroit Lakes (Becker County) Becker County Historical Society. 

Host communities will also create media projects to facilitate community-wide conversations and develop high-profile programs, events, and stewardship projects about water and its value to the community and the state. The support and dedication of Water/Ways key partners—Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Historical Society—will frame and continue the discussion and community involvement around water long after Water/Ways has visited Minnesota. For more information and exhibit host sites, tour dates, and community activities visit mnhum.org/waterways. Photo: Minnesota Humanities Center website.

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Cathee Pullman new NRCS state conservationist

Cathee Pullman is the new Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist in Minnesota. Former State Conservationist Don Baloun retired in January. Most recently, she served as the Acting State Conservationist for Maine NRCS. As the Minnesota State Conservationist, Pullman looks forward to establishing relationships with SWCDs, conservation partners, private landowners and organizations as well as facilitating technical support to field office staffs and providing technical and financial assistance to landowners and operators in Minnesota. 

Pullman began her career with the United States Department of Agriculture's Soil Conservation Service in 1987. Previously she has worked in Oklahoma, Colorado, Iowa, Georgia, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, the National Headquarters Office. Pullman has served at all levels of the agency and in multiple capacities including Soil Conservationist, District Conservationist, Resource Conservation and Development Coordinator, Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations, Area Conservationist, State Administrative Officer, Management Analyst and State Resource Conservationist. Pullman is a native of Illinois. 

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Conservation tour highlights successful projects, partnerships

Dave Legvold and MPCa Commissioner John Stine

Farming and conservation representatives from 20 states, Washington D.C., and one Canadian province visited five farms in southeast Minnesota Aug. 12 as part of a tour organized by the Conservation Technology Information Center. The tour highlighted successful projects and partnerships in conservation agriculture.

During the expo and lunch stop at the Dave Legvold farm outside Northfield, MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine spoke on how his agency can be an effective partner with farmers.

The extensive water quality data being collected by the MPCA – thanks to Legacy Amendment money – means the agency can work with farmers and landowners to detect and diagnose problems.

 “Like a patient going to the Mayo Clinic for testing and treatment, we hope that our water quality assessments will help develop a diagnosis for our waters that don’t meet standards,” Stine said.

Generally, Minnesota needs to reduce levels of nutrients, sediment and bacteria in a majority of akes and streams. The MPCA wants to work with landowners and regulated parties to make choices and plan the state’s future with water quality in mind, he said.

“We know what it takes to have productive soil and water quality,” the commissioner said. “It’s no mystery. It takes soil stability. It takes nutrient reduction. It takes water retention. It takes all of us working together.”

Photo above: Farmer Dave Legvold, at left, receives congratulations from MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine on being the newest recipient of the Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification, a voluntary program for adopting practices that help water quality. See more of how Legvold farms in this MPCA story and program: On-farm research: Results that count for profits, water quality.

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10 things not to miss at Eco Experience

Eco Experience

If you're going to the Minnesota State Fair Aug. 27-Sept. 7, you won’t want to miss these exhibits at Eco Experience:

1.      Bagnado: A 25-foot-tall tornado made of plastics, demonstrating the vast amount of this material thrown away by Minnesotans every day.

2.      Eco camper: A micro camper made in Minnesota that leaves a small carbon footprint.

3.      YOXO toys: Kids can earn these toys made by a St. Paul company from sustainable and recyclable materials.

4.      Flush yourself: Climb into the larger-than-life sink and slide down the drain to learn what happens when flushing water down a sink or toilet.

5.      AgriCULTURE: Discover immigrant food through daily cooking demos, displays, games and food samples.

6.       AirBeam:  A mobile $250 monitor for air quality.

7.       Climate Scale: Jump on the “people’s scale” to show the power of collective change. On this scale fairgoers can interact with one another and show how people and neighbors working together can make change.

8.      Eco-friendly home improvements: Learn how to improve your home step-by-step while saving on energy costs.

9.      Citizen scientist: Fair guests can practice being a Citizen Scientist by learning different frog and owl calls, using a Secchi tube to measure water clarity and evaluate the health of a stream, and learning the unique characteristics of Monarch butterflies.

Reuse: This area will feature youth- and adult-friendly, hands-on projects plus daily demonstrations of DIY reuse projects and repair techniques.

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