Watershed Connections - December 2015

Watershed Connections

December 2015

Minnesota River Congress lists board member categories

Congress map graphic

The new, citizen-led organization to promote the natural resource and economic health of the Minnesota River basin has announced representation categories of its governing Action Board.

As of Dec. 15, 19 of the 33 board positions have been filled, with three more pending. New applications are welcome, and will be reviewed at the next board meeting Jan. 26 in New Ulm. The meeting will also decide the date of next full Congress sometime in late February or early March.

Action Board members named so far and sectors they represent are the following:

Sectors (2 each)

  • Business: Paul ‘Gus’ Davis, Greg Genz
  • Agriculture: Brian Hicks, Louis Knieper
  • Non-government organizations: Rylee Main
  • Local government: Drew Campbell
  • Soil and Water Conservation Districts: Jessie Shaffer
  • Recreation: Mark Bosacker, Nancy Spooner Mueller

Major watersheds

  • Lac qui Parle River: Jim and Mary Stone (one shared representation)
  • Hawk Creek: Forrest Peterson
  • Yellow Medicine River: Scott Tedrick
  • Redwood River: Ted Suss
  • Middle Minnesota River: Bob Finley
  • Blue Earth River: Bryce Hoppie
  • Le Sueur River: Jessica Nelson

State agencies

  • Board of Water and Soil Resources: Jeff Nielsen
  • Dept. of Natural Resources: Skip Wright
  • Pollution Control Agency: Joanne Boettcher/Lee Ganske (one seat shared)

Action Board seats remaining to be filled are the following:


  • Non-government organizations (one application pending)
  • Local government (one application pending)
  • Soil and Water Conservation Districts (one seat)
  • Native American communities (two seats)

Major watersheds

  • Minnesota River Headwaters
  • Pomme de Terre River
  • Chippewa River
  • Cottonwood River
  • Watonwan River
  • Lower Minnesota River (one application pending)

State agencies

  • Dept. of Health
  • Dept. of Agriculture
  • Dept. of Transportation

The one-page application form asks for watershed residence, interest sector, and a brief statement of personal interest and qualifications. Application forms are available by contacting Scott Sparlin at 507-276-2280, sesparlin@gmail.com.

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West Otter Tail named Conservation District of the Year

Kelly-MASWCD award

West Otter Tail received the Conservation District of the Year award Dec. 7 at the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts convention. Among its accomplishments, West Otter Tail reached out to their neighboring district, East Otter Tail SWCD, and their county to develop a three-phase, nine-year plan to move toward 100 percent voluntary compliance with the existing shoreland buffer ordinance. The county supported the SWCDs financially to inventory, map and provide technical assistance to landowners who may be out of compliance.

Dr. Kathryn Kelly named Outstanding Supervisor

Among other awards at the MASWCD convention, Dr. Kathryn K. Kelly of the Renville SWCD received the Outstanding Supervisor Award. Dr. Kelly promotes conservation practices and this year has a cover crop demonstration plot on her farmland and has attended cover crop education sessions. She owns land enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program, and has done several conservation practices on her farmland over the years. Dr. Kelly and her husband John installed rain gardens at their urban home as a visible demonstration to their community about how the practice works. (Photo: Dr. Kathryn Kelly, right, visited the MPCA booth at the convention trade show.)

PCA-SWCD award

MPCA presents Community Conservationist Award

MPCA Assistant Commissioner Rebecca Flood presented the Community Conservationist Award to the city of Windom and street superintendent Bruce Caldwell. Over the past several years Windom has been a leader in erosion and sediment control, stormwater management, and conservation planning. The city has installed stormwater ponds, created a Tree Commission, and engaged schools in a city-wide clean-up. Photo: Rebecca Flood, at right, with Cottonwood County SWCD staff, from left: Renee Harnack, Kay Gross, Dave Bucklin, and supervisor Clark Lingbeek.

Several MPCA activities and programs were represented at the convention trade show: Citizen monitoring, feedlots, SSTS, watershed approach, and watershed restoration and protection strategies. Among the convention break-out sessions, Lee Ganske, Cathy Rofshus, and Mike Koschak presented an overview of the “Swimmable, fishable, fixable?” report, which describes progress through the first half of the 10-year cycle to develop watershed restoration and protection strategies for each of Minnesota’s 80 major watersheds.

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Watershed Achievements Report: Buffers, monitoring and projects to benefit lakes and streams

Watershed Achievements Report 2015 cover

The 2015 Watershed Achievement Report highlights the multiple projects and efforts to protect and restore waters throughout Minnesota. Highlights in the 2015 report include:

  • Minnesota’s statewide buffer initiative to filter runoff flowing to lakes and rivers.
  • Intensive water monitoring started or completed in 69 of the state’s 80 major watersheds, providing extensive data for identifying stressors to aquatic life, and developing strategies to restore and protect waters.
  • Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies are underway for nearly all major watersheds.
  • Projects throughout Minnesota center on better filtering of stormwater, facilitating behavior change that benefits water quality, designing ditches to slow and filter runoff, assisting feedlots with reducing pollutants, installing sewer systems, and much more.

The MPCA submits this report on Clean Water Act Section 319, Clean Water Partnership, and Clean Water fund projects in Minnesota to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency every year.

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Watershed Health Assessment Framework adds map gallery

Explore WHAF

The Dept. of Natural Resources Watershed Health Assessment Framework now offers a Map Gallery Tool that allows users to save maps they have created, and bookmark them for sharing and future use. The Explore the WHAF webpage contains six videos that provide instruction on using the WHAF, including the new video highlighting the Map Gallery Tool.

Watershed health 'report cards' have also been updated and are available for 81 watersheds. The framework uses scores to compare the health of ecological systems across Minnesota. Scores are determined in five areas: Biology, connectivity, geomorphology, hydrology, and water quality. More information about the health scores can be found in ‘About the Science of Watershed Health’.

As new data becomes available, the health assessment scores at the statewide, watershed and catchment level will be re-calculated to generate trend data about the health of Minnesota’s watersheds. Index calculations will be improved with emerging data whenever feasible. For more information contact Beth Knudsen, 651-345-3331 ext 228, beth.knudsen@state.mn.us. 

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Fields to Streams: Managing Water in Rural Landscapes

field-streams cover

Fields to Streams: Managing Water in Rural Landscapes, is a new publication from Extension Water Resources, that details connections between land use, runoff, and water quality in rural landscapes. The two-part handbook highlights practices to improve and protect rural streams and shows how land management can affect the rate of runoff that shapes them.

The handbook was prepared for landowners, land managers, and the conservation professionals who work with them to help them talk about and address local watershed issues. Fields to Streams draws on research from Minnesota and Iowa, providing concise explanations and extensive graphics to highlight concepts and practices.

Part One, Water Shaping the Landscape, explains the role of Minnesota's geology, changing rainfall, and land management practices in altering the amount and timing of runoff reaching and shaping streams and rivers.

Part Two, Managing Sediment and Water, describes practices for managing crops, drainage systems, surface runoff, wetlands, impoundments, and stream corridors to reduce peak flows and lessen the amount of streambank, bluff, and ravine erosion.


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Combined planning, common goal for nutrient, nitrogen conferences

Two conferences with a combined planning group and common goal are scheduled for February. The Nutrient Management Conference will be Tuesday, Feb. 9 at Jackpot Junction Hotel, Morton; the Nitrogen: Minnesota's Grand Challenge and Compelling Opportunity Conference will be Tuesday, Feb. 23, at the International Event Center, Rochester.

Last year the Nutrient Management Conference was organized by the Minnesota Agricultural Water Resource Center (MAWRC), and the Nitrogen: Minnesota's Grand Challenge and Compelling Opportunity Conference was organized by the University of Minnesota Extension.
To minimize overlap and bring greater content value to the audience, this year one common planning committee identified topics and speakers to make these conferences relevant and informative on current topics directly related to nutrients for agricultural production and environmental stewardship.

The Nutrient Management Conference gains in popularity each year and brings together the best nutrient management researchers in the Corn Belt for one program. The Nitrogen Conference will be held for the second time in 2016 bringing experts to focus entirely on that valuable input. The conferences are intended for crop producers and ag professionals. Certified crop adviser credits will be available. - University of Minnesota Extension

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News briefs

CRWP 2016 calendar-egret

Chippewa River Watershed Project 2016 calendar now available

The Chippewa River Watershed Project photo contest calendar for 2016 is now available and may be picked up at the Chippewa River Watershed Project office in Montevideo and at some county SWCD offices. Stop in or contact Jennifer about your free copy at 320-269-2139 x120 or email jennifer.hoffman@chippewariver.org.

Winning photographers: January-Karen DeMorett, Glenwood; February-Brittany Johnson, Evansville; March-Cheryl Johnson, Evansville; April-Marci Ledin-Coughlin, Clontarf; May-Brittany N. Johnson, Evansville; June-Nikki LaSota, Glenwood; July-Anne Schirmer, Clontarf; August-Brittany N. Johnson, Evansville; September-Barb Mulvaney, Glenwood; October-Kimberly DeMorett, Glenwood; November-Nancy Carlson, Willmar; December-Stacy Hanson, Woodbury. Brittany N. Johnson's photo of a great egret feeding on a northern pike fry was the Best in Show and winner of the cash prize.

Hawk Creek WRAPS workshops Jan. 6 and 27

The next workshops for the Hawk Creek Watershed Project Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy are scheduled for Jan. 6 and 27. Previous workshops occurred in September and November. The first workshop provided background information on the WRAPS legislation and the scientific steps of the watershed approach. It gave attendees an opportunity to discuss the content and organization they would like to see in the Hawk Creek WRAPS report. During the second workshop, attendees provided feedback on the draft background information and water quality conditions sections of the report. For more information contact Heidi Rauenhorst, HCWP coordinator, 320-523-3666, heidi@hawkcreekwatershed.org.

MDA seeks outreach coordinator for Clean Water Fund activities

The Dept. of Agriculture is seeking an outreach coordinator to work with MDA staff statewide on Clean Water Fund activities and work with other research partners to develop and implement plans for communication, public outreach and civic engagement. The application closing date is Jan. 19 for the Planner Senior State – Environmental Outreach Coordinator position (Job ID: 1177). To apply, current state employees apply via Self-Service. External applicants apply via the State Careers website at www.mn.gov/careers.

BWSR seeks Board Conservationist for Rochester office

The Board of Water and Soil Resources is seeking a Board Conservationist for the Rochester office. Applications close Jan. 19. The position provides technical and leadership assistance and implementation guidance to soil and water conservation districts, watershed management organizations, cities, joint powers boards, watershed districts, counties and BWSR staff. Duties include preparing and implementing water quality and quantity restoration and protection plans, including Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) implementation plans. To apply (Job ID: 1946), current state employees apply via Self-Service. External applicants apply via the State Careers website at www.mn.gov/careers. For more information contact Jeff Nielsen, Southern Region Manager at jeff.nielsen@state.mn.us or 507-359-6075.

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