Watershed Network News - Sept. 18, 2013

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watershed network news

Sept. 18, 2013

LeSueur River celebration at McGowan's Farm Sept. 24

kim musser at mcgowans farm

The Le Sueur River Watershed Network is sponsoring a family-friendly celebration for the Le Sueur River, 4-7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24 at Jack McGowan’s Farm near Mankato. The public is invited to this free event to learn about the river, what citizens can do to improve its water quality, and to share a meal with watershed neighbors. Events include a scavenger hunt and hands-on learning about the fish, mussels, and macroinvertebrates living in the river. Music will be led by Scott Sparlin and Patrick Moore of the Minnesota River Watershed Alliance; all are encouraged to bring music instruments for a jam session. A new video by Queenan Productions will be shown that documents how watershed residents and local staff are making a difference across the watershed. Since April 2012, citizens have been meeting to discuss ways to improve the water quality of the Le Sueur River Watershed. This 711,838-acre watershed in Blue Earth, Waseca, Steele, Le Sueur, Faribault and Freeborn counties is a major contributor of sediment and nutrients to the Minnesota River. The event is a celebration for the network of citizens who have been meeting and talking and developing strategies to solve problems and reduce pollution in the watershed. See the LeSueur River story video by Anne Queenan on the LeSueur River Watershed webpage.

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Energy, opportunities converge in LeSueur River watershed community

lesueur river aug 27 meeting

On a hot Tuesday, Aug. 27, 35 citizens crowded into the Amboy Cottage Cafe to discuss the future possibilities for organizing an ongoing entity to keep harnessing and advancing the citizen energy that has emerged over the past year in the LeSueur River Watershed. They divided into four small groups and rotated from one group to another to discuss the following questions:

  1. What type of citizen organization do we want to create?
  2. How does this citizen group relate with other existing efforts (e.g. GBERBA, SWCDs)?
  3. How do we involve existing farm organizations?
  4. What ideas do you have for celebratory kickoff event at McGowan’s Farm?

After lively and substantive discussions, the basic take-aways are that there is citizen energy to start a new watershed-based organization, and there are opportunities to work more closely with established agencies such as GBERBA and SWCDs. The Minnesota Agricultural Water Resource Center (MAWRC) is currently organizing multi-county groups of farmers that could eventually connect and collaborate with the citizen-led organization. It was decided to plan a celebration at McGowan’s Farm on Sept. 24, 4-7 p.m.

For more information contact Kim Musser kimberly.musser@mnsu.edu  507-389-5307.

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Delegation takes Blueway effort to Sisseton, SD

hands across the river

Recognizing that a significant portion of the Minnesota River basin lies outside Minnesota, a delegation from the Blueway nomination project headed upstream Aug. 26. They were warmly welcomed by hosts in Sisseton, SD, and toured what some consider the true source of the Minnesota River, a little network of creeks tumbling from the densely-wooded flanks of Buffalo Ridge west of Sisseton. Within the borders of Sica Hollow State Park, the rain and spring-fed streams form the Little Minnesota River. This accounts for about 90 percent of the inflow to Big Stone Lake, which is claimed to be the source of the Minnesota River.

The purpose of the delegation's visit was to engage support in South Dakota for the Minnesota River Blueway nomination. The visit opened with a lunch meeting at the Joseph Nicollet Tower Museum. The hosts learned about the Blueway project; the visitors learned about Dakota Indian history and the exploration of the area by Joseph Nicollet. 

darlene pipeboy

A spiritual place

At Sica (pronounced 'See-cha') Hollow State Park, the group hiked the trails along the creeks, and heard more description of the area. "This is a spiritual place for the Dakota people," says Darlene Pipeboy, an educator and elder with the Sisseton-Wahpeton-Oyate Dakota community. "A combination of values brought the Dakota people here," she says. Woods, water, game, herbal medicines, the land, were all part of the native ecosystem. "Take care of nature, and nature will take care of you," Darlene says.

After a short stop at the historic Stavig House Museum in Sisseton, the delegation moved to the Sisseton City Hall for an open house gathering and potluck. Local guests and visitors heard a short overview of the Blueway project, and stayed for food and informal conversation with the visitors from Minnesota.

During a pause in the Blueway program at the federal level, the Minnesota Blueway project continues to develop support, particularly among state and federal elected officials from all four states claiming portions of the Minnesota River basin. Organizers remain optimistic that eventually the Minnesota River will become the second in the U.S. to be recognized as a national Blueway. For more information about the project visit the website at www.minnesotariverblueway.com

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Watershed news briefs

Watershed Network fall meeting Nov. 12 at New Ulm

The Watershed Network fall meeting is tentatively set for Tuesday, Nov. 12, at the New Ulm Pizza Ranch. This is a great opportunity to learn and network with colleagues from water management organizations and agencies, in an informal setting. This will be the ninth meeting since spring of 2009. Ideas for program topics are welcome. Check out the Watershed Network webpage for more information.

A celebration of food, community, and landscape

Clean Up the River Environment and Land Stewardship Project invite everyone to "Better Together: A Celebration of Food, Community, and Landscape," 5-10 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 21 at the Watson Town Hall. After a potluck supper at 6 p.m., there will be music, readings, stories, and perhaps dancing. Bring a dish to share; some beverages will be provided. Weather permitting, the activities may move outdoors; dress in layers and perhaps bring a lawn chair.

10th annual Crow River clean-up Sept. 21

The 10th annual Crow River Clean Up Day activities start at 8 a.m. and run until noon Saturday, Sept. 21, in each community. Following the clean up, volunteers receive lunch and a t-shirt. It’s a great activity for Boy Scout Troops, Cub Scout Packs, Girl Scouts, 4H Clubs, Church or School groups, and businesses. Contact Dan Nadeau, CROW Watershed Resource Specialist at 763-682-1933 Ex. 3 or by email daniel.nadeau@mn.nacdnet.net.  

Yellow Medicine report available for review

The MPCA water quality assessment report for the Yellow Medicine River and Hawk Creek watersheds is now available for review.The report is on the MPCA website, and a limited number of printed copies are available at the district office in Minneota.

Seven Mile Creek coordinator 

The Nicollet County SWCD and Great River Greening are interviewing candidates for the Seven Mile Creek coordinator position. 

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'Paddle Forward' expedition to canoe entire Mississippi River

paddle forward logo

On Sept. 18 a group of eleven young adults, including a videographer, will embark on “Paddle Forward,” a canoe expedition down the Mississippi River from its headwaters at Lake Itasca to New Orleans. The team will interview mayors, park rangers, paddling clubs, and other community members to learn about their relationship with the Mississippi River Watershed. The interviews will be used to create a video documentary called Voices of the Mississippi River that seeks to answer the question: How do individuals and communities interact with America’s Mighty Mississippi? Wild River Academy, the parent organization of Paddle Forward, is a nonprofit organization based in the Twin Cities dedicated to watershed education and outdoor recreation. The Paddle Forward group includes Wild River Academy cofounders Natalie Warren, Anna Johnson and Nick Ryan as well as Martha Brummitt, Erika Gotcher, John Hartzheim, Eric Immler, Sami Pfeffer, Liz Just, Sarah Schaefer, and Lee Vue. The group is raising money for the project hope to premiere the documentary in Spring 2014.

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Hypoxia task force to meet in Minneapolis Sept. 24

nutrient reduction strategy

The Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force holds public meetings throughout the Mississippi River Basin to inform the public of the progress toward moving forward on Gulf hypoxia. The next public meeting will be in Minneapolis on Tuesday, Sept. 24, from 8 a.m.-3:45 p.m. at The Depot Renaissance Hotel, 225 Third Ave. S. in Minneapolis. MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine will give the welcome at the meeting, with Assistant MPCA Commissioner Rebecca Flood giving an overview on Minnesota’s state nutrient reduction strategy at 1:45 p.m. Other topics include:

  • Size of the hypoxic zone;
  • Applying social and economic science to state nutrient strategies;
  • Role of foundations in nutrient reduction; and
  • Cover crops.

Registration for the public meeting is available online.

The Task Force includes federal and state agencies and Native American tribes. Federal agencies include those with responsibilities over activities in the Mississippi River and its basin, and in the Gulf of Mexico. The role of the Task Force is to provide executive level direction and support for coordinating the actions of participating organizations working on nutrient management within the Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed.

In Minnesota, nine state agencies are working to create a statewide strategy to reduce nutrients in Minnesota waters. A recent study led by the MPCA found that 158 million pounds of nitrate leave Minnesota in the Mississippi River per year on average, contributing to the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico (see story below).

Being held concurrently with the Task Force meeting, CenUSA Bioenergy will hold a workshop on “Enhancing Mississippi Watershed Ecosystems with Perennial Bioenergy Crops” Sept. 23-25 in Minneapolis. CenUSA is a project based at Iowa State University with funding from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. Visit the workshop website for details and online registration. 

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MPCA issues call for water quality data

As partners in water quality efforts, the MPCA thought you would be interested in this call for data. The MPCA will conduct surface water assessments – determining whether water bodies meet state water quality standards – for these watersheds in early 2014:

  • Leech Lake River
  • Pine River
  • South Fork Crow River
  • Zumbro River
  • Red Lake River
  • Red River - Grand Marais Creek*
  • Lake of the Woods*

* Data requested only for the portions of these watersheds that are within the state of Minnesota.

The MPCA is interested in obtaining all available water quality data for these watersheds for use in the assessment effort. If you manage a water quality monitoring project in any of these areas, please submit your data, which will help the MPCA assess the condition of these waters and build a national database of water quality. Note the data submission timeline below to ensure that your data is available for the assessment process. To be included in the assessment effort, data must be received by the MPCA and uploaded to the agency’s water quality data management system (EQuIS) prior to data analysis. Be advised that steps involved in data storage for any project can span more than a month. Information on how to submit data is available on the MPCA website.

 2013-2014 Data Submission Timeline:

  • Through Nov. 1, 2013: Submit project lab and field data.
  • Dec. 2, 2013: Begin final data review.
  • Dec. 16, 2013: Complete final data review for assessment related data.
  • Jan. 15, 2014: Data finalized and ready for the 2014 assessment process.

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EPA webinar Sept. 25 on harmful algal blooms

On Sept. 25, EPA's Watershed Academy will host a webcast on the link between nutrient pollution and harmful algal blooms (HABs), entitled, "Linking Nutrient Pollution and HABs: State of the Science and EPA Actions." Professor Hans Paerl from UNC, Chapel Hill will begin the webinar with a review of the scientific evidence, and EPA's Ellen Gilinsky and Mario Sengco will continue with a discussion of the relevant work of the EPA in mitigating the problem, including both the Framework for State Nutrient Reductions and the development of numeric nutrient criteria. They will conclude with suggestions for the public on how to minimize nutrient contributions from everyday activities.

This webcast series is a part of a broader outreach effort this summer that aims to focus public attention on HABs, which are associated with nutrient pollution, and can sicken people and pets, devastate aquatic ecosystems, and be a detriment to the economy. To register, visit www.epa.gov/watershedwebcasts.

Additionally, broadcast-quality versions of EPA's new HAB PSAs are now available. Protect your Pooch from Harmful Algal Blooms: When In Doubt, Stay Out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goPMNzDmJDg (15 seconds), And I Didn't Get My Bacon Either http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JxFfMiDdzQ.

If interested, please contact Patty Scott (scott.patricia@epa.gov).

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In the news

Cameras to catch LeSueur River erosion
Mankato Free Press, 8/25/13
Raising crops and conservation awareness
Star Tribune, 9/1/13

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Sept. 20: Mississippi River Forum, 8 a.m., St. Cloud City Council chambers; topic: Nitrogen in Minnesota surface waters, Dave Wall, MPCA.
Sept. 21: Crow River clean-up, various locations. 
Sept. 21: A celebration of food, community, and landscape, 5-10 p.m., CURE-LSP, Watson Town Hall.
Sept. 30: Minnesota River Board, 9 a.m., Henderson Community Center.
Oct. 10: Mississippi River Forum,  a.m., St. Cloud City Council chambers; topic: Nitrogen in Minnesota surface waters, Dave Wall, MPCA.
Oct. 28-30: BWSR Academy, Cragun's, Brainerd.
Nov. 12: Watershed Network fall meeting, New Ulm Pizza Ranch (tentative).

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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
Minnesota River Board
Pomme de Terre River Association
Redwood-Cottonwood Rivers Control Area
Red River Water Management Board


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
Great River Greening
Minnesota Agricultural Water Resources Coalition
Minnesota River Basin Data Center
Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway
Minnesota River Watershed Alliance
Mississippi River Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force
Minnesota Waters
MPCA-Minnesota River Basin
Three Rivers RC&D
University of Minnesota Water Resources Center
Water Resource Center-Minnesota State

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mn map watersheds

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

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