Watershed Network News - Feb. 13, 2013

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watershed network news

Feb. 13, 2013

In this issue:

Doug Albin receives CURE 'River Keeper' award

Doug Albin

Clarkfield area farmer Doug Albin received the "River Keeper" award Feb. 9 at the 21st annual banquet meeting of Clean Up the River Environment (CURE). The award recognizes his participation in an extensive project on the family farm in an 80-acre field along the Yellow Medicine River. The project includes:

  • Controlled tile outlet, to help manage floods during the drought,
  • Woodchip bioreactor to treat tile drainage,
  • Large saturated buffer within an existing CRP native buffer strip,
  • Toe wood sod mat to protect the river's streambank erosion.

At a field day there last summer, Doug said that while it took a long time (one year) to develop, the cooperation and trust among landowners and agencies led to a successful project. "I appreciate everyone's participation that included more than five state and federal agencies. This is exciting here, and I hope we can continue." Doug is a member of the Minnesota Corn Research and Promotion Council, Ag Water Quality Certification Advisory Committee and farms with his wife, Lois, south of Clarkfield. Accompanying Doug and Lois at the CURE meeting were Warren Formo, director of the Minnesota Agricultural Water Resource Center; and Mark Dittrich, Department of Agriculture, both of whom worked with Doug on the project. He describes the project in this one-minute video

Awards, business, entertainment at CURE annual meeting

About 300 members and guests filled the banquet hall at Prairie's Edge Casino Resort for the 21st annual meeting of CURE - Clean Up the River Environment. Business included election of new board members: Butch Halterman, Glen Jacobsen, Cheryl Landgren, Dorothy Rosemeier, Chris Thompson, and Megan Ulrich. Incumbents re-elected: Jennifer Hoffman, Jianhua Qian, and Don Robertson. Other awards presented: Kubly Good Government award to the Ortonville Town Board, Media award to Anne Queenan and Sally Jo Sorensen, Good Business award to Dennis Larson and M.A.A.C. construction, and Volunteer award to Franz Albert Richter. Ashley Hanson and Andrew Gaylord led the Minnesota River Theater in skit about CURE, the Next Generation. Kate Eggers and Joshua Preston of the next generation gave short speeches.

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River Board to hear recommendations about future

The Minnesota River Board meeting to discuss prospects for a basin-level management entity was cancelled Feb. 11, and may be rescheduled to the next regularly scheduled meeting March 18. That meeting is scheduled to be in LeSueur; however, a more central location may be considered. An external review team has collected data and engaged stakeholders in discussions regarding the future of a basin-level entity here in the Minnesota River Watershed. The group, led by consultant Cindy Bigger, included: John Schueller, MRB chair and Redwood County Commissioner; Mark Zabel, Carver SWCD supervisor and MASWCD officer; Kerry Netzke, Area II executive director; Diane Radermacher, Upper Minnesota Watershed District administrator; Scott Sparlin, Coalition for a Clean Minnesota River Exec. director; and Warren Formo, Minnesota Agriculture Water Resource Center director.

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In the spotlight

Hawk Creek staff

Hawk Creek Watershed Project

Although lacking its own individual number in the Hydrologic Unit Code system, Hawk Creek nevertheless functions as a major watershed, with a well-established organization. In the HUC system, Hawk Creek gets counted in the Yellow Medicine River watershed of the Minnesota River basin. However, since 1999, the Hawk Creek Watershed Project has operated independently under a resolution agreement among Renville, Chippewa, and Kandiyohi counties.This informal governance changed in 2012, when the counties formed a joint powers agreement for the project.

Over the years, the Hawk Creek project has established a strong record and reputation for water quality research, monitoring, implementation, and citizen participation. This will be evident in the attendance and program of the project's annual meeting Feb. 13 in Willmar. The project team of Coordinator Heidi Rauenhorst, field technician Dean Dambroten, and outreach technician Jordan Austin, keep busy administering federal 319 grants, Clean Water Partnership grants and loans, and other resources for projects that have shown measurable water quality improvements. For example, through increased adoption of environmental “best management practices,” Hawk and Beaver Creek watersheds have documented approximate reductions of 45-50% in seasonal average total suspended solids concentrations.

Hawk Creek originates in the lakes region of Kandiyohi County and flows approximately 65 miles to its mouth at the Minnesota River about eight miles southeast of Granite Falls.The watershed drains 612,822 acres (958 square miles) of land. It is unique among other major watersheds of the MN River in that it is composed of a main tributary (Hawk Creek) and several other streams that flow directly into the MN River.

Several of 22 cities, towns and small villages are located directly on the river or on a tributary and discharge wastewater treatment plant effluent or stormwater effluent. Agriculture is the dominant land use. The lower reach from south of Maynard to the confluence with the Minnesota River, with numerous small rapids, is very popular with paddlers when water levels are suitable.

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Hawk Creek paddlers

Watershed network news briefs

Heron Lake WD offers two summer intern posts

The Heron Lake Watershed District is accepting application forms, letters of interest and resumes for two summer intern positions. This seasonal position requires physical labor outdoors in all weather conditions, and working with local, state, and federal government entities and local organizations. Qualified applicants must be enrolled as a full-time college student. For a complete job description and application form, contact Jan Voit at 507-793-2462, jan.voit@mysmbs.com, or www.hlwdonline.org. Employment will begin mid-May. Some flexibility exists depending upon the end of the school year. Salary: $8 per hour. Interested applicants may send a completed application form, resume, and cover letter describing work experience and reasons for wanting to work as a summer intern to: Jan Voit, Heron Lake Watershed District, PO Box 345,Heron Lake, MN 56137. Application deadline is Feb. 14, 2013.

Sustainability, Minnesota Falls dam, topics at Hawk Creek annual meeting

A good turnout is expected once again for the annual meeting of the Hawk Creek Watershed Project. It will be Wednesday, Feb. 13 at the MinnWest conference center in Willmar. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. Speakers include: Warren Formo, director of the Minnesota Agricultural Water Resources Center, "Agriculture's commitment to environmental stewardship: Improving sustainability and protecting water quality;" and Chris Domeier, "Minnesota Falls dam removal project." There will be a showing of the video, "Can ag feed the world without destroying it?" with Jonathan Foley of the U of M Institute on the Environment. Project coordinator Heidi Rauenhorst will give an overview of the past year's accomplishments. Lunch will be served at no charge to guests who have preregistered.

CROW lists highlights of 2012 in annual report

Crow River Organization of Water annual report is available online, with details of activities during 2012. Water quality improvement accomplishments include reduction of 2,218 tons of soil and 3,002 pounds of phosphorus.

Speaker, topic ideas needed for Watershed Network spring meeting

We need ideas for speakers and topics for the Watershed Network spring meeting, tentatively scheduled for Thursday, April 18. If you have ideas to contribute, please contact Forrest Peterson, 320-441-6972, forrest.peterson@state.mn.us. Topics from past meetings are listed on the Watershed Network webpage. This will be the eighth meeting of the watershed network. It started in 2009 to provide networking and communication opportunities for watershed organization professional staff. A location for the spring 2013 and confirmed date will be announced later.

ag expo 2013

MPCA participates at Ag Expo

Staff from the MPCA watershed and feedlot programs tended a trade show booth at the Minnesota Ag Expo Jan. 28 at the Verizon Center in Mankato. It was the roll-out of the agency's new banners depicting best management practices for manure and nutrient management, and water management. MPCA staff attending the show included: Bob Finley, Larry Gunderson, Lee Ganske, Joanne Boettcher, and Forrest Peterson. The Blue Earth SWCD attended with a trade show booth to promote its programs, including the county's initiative about 50-foot buffers on natural ditches and waterways.

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SWCD delegates elect new officers

Local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) delegates at the 76th annual meeting of the Minnesota Association of SWCDs in December elected Carver SWCD Supervisor Mark Zabel as president and Pipestone SWCD Supervisor Ian Cunningham as vice president of the association. Additional new board members include Mark Thell (Carlton SWCD), Gary Schafer (Sibley SWCD) and Steve Connelly (Olmsted SWCD). The association extended a 'thank you' to retiring MASWCD President Kathryn Kelly (Renville SWCD), Northeast Area Director Kurt Beckstrom (Mille Lacs SWCD), South Central Area Director Loyal Fisher (Renville SWCD), and Southeast Area Director Ed McNamara (Goodhue SWCD) for their leadership and dedication to the association and conservation programs. For a complete listing of the Board of Directors visit the MASWCD website.

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Report lists recommendations for water governance

The Water Governance Evaluation Project was authorized by the Legislature in 2011 to evaluate water-related statutes, rules, and governing structures to streamline, strengthen, and improve sustainable water management. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), working with other state agencies, submitted the report to the Legislature on Jan. 15, 2013. The report includes recommendations on water governance items including:

  • Implement water management on a watershed scale across all levels of governance. (report pages 36-38)
  • Synchronize state agencies’ water management programs into a water management system.(report pages 38-39)
  • Improve the delivery of water management services at the regional scale. (report pages 39-40)
  • Improve the alignment of statutes, rules and regulatory process that pertain to public waters/wetlands. (report pages 41-42)
  • Complete the interagency framework to promote consensus on groundwater management, and develop usable quantity-based standards for groundwater withdrawal. (report pages 44-45)
  • Strengthen the linkage between land use and water management practices, by creating incentives for local governments to combine and integrate their water and land use plans. (report pages 45-47)
  • Support and strengthen landowner and land occupier efforts to stem nonpoint source pollution and soil loss, both through voluntary BMPs and by strengthening existing statutes relating to soil loss and soil health. (report 47-48)

The report is available on the MPCA website.

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Ag water quality certification program sets 'listening sessions'

The Department of Agriculture is hosting several public listening sessions to seek input on the proposed development of the Minnesota Agriculture Water Quality Certification Program (MAWCP). The concept behind MAWCP is that if farmers agree to conduct certain practices on their farms they would receive “certification” and not be subject to any additional regulations that will be developed and implemented by state agencies. The MDA and Gov. Dayton have requested $3 million from the Legislature to implement this program. The first session was Feb. 4 at Worthington.

  • Feb 12: Stewartville, Stewartville Civic Center, 6-8 p.m.
  • Feb 19: Roseville, Ramsey County Librairy, 4-6 p.m.
  • Feb 21: Crookston, UofM Crookston Ballroom, 6-8 p.m.
  • Feb 26: Mankato, South Central College, 6-8 p.m.
  • Feb 28: St. Cloud, MnDOT Training Center, 1-3 p.m.

Seeking recommendations for watershed pilot projects

Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson is seeking recommendations for pilot project watershed areas for the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program. Pilot areas could receive significant funding from multiple agencies to enhance water quality in their areas.  Projects will be a maximum three-year duration to enable diverse sample conditions in weather, production systems, practice implementation, and other factors including emphasis on replication of successful MAWQCP implementation and operation locally. The pilot areas will be required to produce measurement of key elements needed for a successful program.The deadline to submit recommendations is March 1, 2013. For more information about the pilot project or to obtain a recommendation form, contact Brad Redlin, Program Manager, at 651-201-6489 or Brad.Redlin@state.mn.us. 

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Prairie Enthusiasts conference March 16

The Prairie Enthusiasts, Inc. has assembled an outstanding program for its 25th annual conference, Saturday, March 16, at Minnesota State University. With the theme, “Pollinators: Future of our Food & Native Plant Communities,” the conference and banquet will bring together enthusiasts from throughout the Midwest to celebrate our prairie heritage. DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr will present the opening presentation, "State of the State of Minnesota Prairies and Grasslands." Mankato Free Press reporter and canoe enthusiast Tim Krohn will share his experiences canoeing 335 miles down the Minnesota River in 1998 and again in 2008. There will be concurrent sessions including a Water Tract, Prairie Tract, and Animal Tract. The event will be at the Centennial Student Union on the Minnesota State University-Mankato campus. The Prairie Enthusiasts web page has more details and registration information.

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In the news

Ag commissioner seeks recommendations for water quality pilot projects
News release, 2/11/13
More Discovery Farm participants needed
The Farmer, 2/7/13
MPCA invites comments on statewide permit that regulates construction stormwater
News release, 2/5/13

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Feb. 13: Hawk Creek annual meeting, MinnWest Technology Campus, Willmar.
Feb. 19: Nutrient, Soil, and Water Management Conference, Bigwood Event Center, Fergus Falls.
March 21: Chippewa River Watershed Project annual meeting, 5 p.m., Starbuck community center.

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MPCA watershed webpage

Watershed Projects

Big Cobb River Watershed Project
Maple River Clean Water Partnership
Rush River Watershed Project

Watershed Districts

Buffalo Creek Watershed District
Heron Lake Watershed District
High Island Watershed District
Lac qui Parle Yellow Bank Watershed District
Lower Minnesota Watershed District
Middle Fork Crow Watershed District
Nine Mile Creek Watershed District
North Fork Crow Watershed District
Prior Lake-Spring Lake Watershed District
Riley Purgatory Bluff Creek Watershed District
Sauk River Watershed District
Yellow Medicine River Watershed District

Joint Powers Boards and Associations

Area II-Minnesota River Basin Projects
Chippewa River Watershed Project
Hawk Creek Watershed Project
Crow River Organization of Water
Greater Blue Earth River Basin Alliance
Pomme de Terre River Association
Redwood-Cottonwood Rivers Control Area


Coalition for a Clean Minnesota River
CURE – Clean Up the River Environment
EPA – Watershed Central
Explore the MN River Valley
Friends of the Minnesota Valley
Minnesota Agricultural Water Resources Coalition
Minnesota River Basin Data Center
Minnesota River Board
Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway
Minnesota River Watershed Alliance
Mississippi River Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force
Minnesota Waters
MPCA-Minnesota River Basin
Prairie Country RC&D
Three Rivers RC&D
University of Minnesota Water Resources Center
Water Resource Center-Minnesota State University-Mankato 

mn map watersheds

WPN logo

Watershed Network News welcomes news from partners about funding opportunities, project updates and events. Email your news to forrest.peterson@state.mn.us.  Please note that the MPCA has switched to a new service, called GovDelivery. To ensure delivery of these messages, please add mpca@public.govdelivery.com to your address book or safe sender list. Please forward this to any other interested parties. Past issues are located on the Watershed Network publications webpage

Forrest Peterson
Information Officer
MPCA-Willmar office