Watershed Network News - May 24, 2012

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watershed network news

May 24, 2012

Upper Minnesota River Friendship Tour July 11

MN River source
A Minnesota/South Dakota Friendship Tour of the Upper Minnesota River watershed will be Wednesday, July 11.  Buses will leave Lakeside Park in Ortonville at 8:30 a.m. and return approximately 3:30 p.m. The tour will explore the Whetstone and Yellow Bank Rivers and surrounding watersheds. You will experience the dramatic elevation changes in the watershed, learn about a unique water quality study in the watersheds, hear about the Whetstone River diversion proposal and enjoy local natural resources. A picnic lunch will be served along the South Fork Yellow Bank River. Registration is required by July 3. Please email deanna.lundberg@midconetwork.com or call 320-839-3411. The tour is provided free of charge due in part to a grant from the Minnesota River Board.

Tour will highlight interstate water issues

The above tour will provide an opportunity to learn about interstate issues. A partnership formed in late in 2009 between East Dakota Water Development District, Upper Minnesota River Watershed District and Lac qui Parle-Yellow Bank Watershed District for an in-depth study of the Whetstone and Yellow Bank rivers. The purpose was to determine condition of the rivers and record changes over a period of time, document bacterial, sediment and/nutrient loadings to the rivers that flow into Big Stone Lake and the Minnesota River, and to support the development of a total maximum daily load (TMDL). Minnesota and South Dakota have differences in water quality standards, classifications and policies, and also are in different EPA regions. 

Watershed news briefs

CROW to administer $1.1 million in loans for SSTS upgrades

The Crow River Organization of Water was awarded a $1.1 million loan for Renville, Kandiyohi, McLeod, Meeker and Wright counties for Subsurface Sewage Treatment System upgrades. As part of the Targeting BMPs in the Crow River Watershed project, the low interest loans will help landowners upgrade failing septic systems in the Crow River watershed. Loans will be available this summer.

Jenny Gieseke named training coordinator at BWSR

After twelve years with the Crow River Organization of Water as a water quality technician, Jenny Gieseke has taken a position as training coordinator with the Board of Water and Soil Resources. She replaces Angie Becker-Kudelka, who has been named BWSR organizational effectiveness director.

Crow groups team up for student day camp June 15

The Middle Fork Crow River Watershed District and Crow River Organization of Water are offering a day camp activity at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center this summer on June 15. Students can register on the New London – Spicer community ed webpage. Contact either MFCRWD or CROW staff for more details.

Middle Fork Crow open house June 5

The Middle Fork Crow River Watershed District will be holding an open house on June 5 from 5 pm to 6:30 pm at 174 Lake Avenue North, Suite 2, Spicer. Come visit with the staff and board members about the many projects and activities that the district is involved in. For more information contact Vanessa Glieden Henjum at 320-796-0888 or vanessa@mfcrow.org.

More than 100 participate in 'art of hosting' training

In Early May, more than 100 people took part in a 3 day "Art of Hosting" Training sponsroed by InCommons and CURE at the Prairie's Edge Resort and Casino in Granite Falls. The purpose of the training was to give people tools to learn how to listen to each other and how to invite people into dialogue about difficult subjects. There was a diverse gathering of citizens and government agency employees, farmers, artists and recreational users of the river. A canoe float on the Minnesota River and a concert at the KK Berge building in Granite Falls were part of the training. For more information, contact Patrick Moore of CURE at 1-877-269-2873.
hosting training

River Board meets at historic Granite Falls building

MRB-Patrick tour
The Minnesota River Board met May 21 at the renovated K.K. Berge building on the banks of the Minnesota River in Granite Falls. After the floods of 1997 and 2001, the building was slated for demolition along with several other older buildings next to the river. But instead of spending $150,000 to destroy the historic building, the city and partners such as CURE and the Chamber of Commerce, found a way to restore the building. Renovation included raising the main floor about 2 1/2 feet, just above the highest water level. Today it houses the Chamber of Commerce and CURE's Granite Falls office. It is used for many community and private events, and displays works of local artists on sale. Behind the building and along the river, a major renovation has created a scenic overlook, walkway, and open space. The adjacent walking bridge across the river is slated for a $1 million renovation. 

River Board approves strategic plan, work plan

At its May 21 meeting in Granite Falls, the Minnesota River Board voted to approve a strategic plan, a 2013 budget and work plan, and to serve as the fiscal agent for a civic engagement training project with U of M Extension and MPCA. The strategic plan consists of six main elements:
  • Consider changes to board structure to include more watershed partnerships.
  • Develop more sustainable funding.
  • Support re-determination of benefits from public ditch systems.
  • Promote buffer requirements on public waters.
  • Assess policies on drainage and water storage for reducing near channel sediment transport.
  • Identify threats to integrity of Minnesota River basin.
In other River Board business: A budget for FY 2013 was set at $417,983. The River Board is sponsoring a water quality professionals assembly on June 27 in Mankato. A major topic will be interpreting biological indicators for water quality. Nominations are due June 15 for the Minnesota River Tributary and Minnesota River Confluence awards. The next board meeting is scheduled for July 16 in St. Peter, in conjunction with its annual meeting. For more information go to the River Board website.

CWP grant funds unique 'Earth Balloon' program

earth balloon
The Crow River Organization of Water and Earth Adventures brought the Earth Balloon “All About Water” program recently to more than 550 students at Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted (HLWW) Middle School and Rockford Middle School - Center for Environmental Studies. The Earth Balloon program provides a unique avenue of exploration and discovery, capture the imagination that engages students. The balloon is 20 feet in diameter and inflated with a fan. The most unique feature of the Earth Balloon is when students enter the globe and learn about our planet as never before. A facilitator guides small groups of students through geography, earth science, Earth’s water cycles, ecosystems and more.  Funding was provided by the MPCA Clean Water Partnership grant fund.

Yellow Medicine gives Enviroscape to school

Cindy Potz and Mike Weckwerth of the Yellow Medicine River Watershed District shared watershed background and projects information with the Minneota elementary school teacher  Diane Gillingham, and her 5th and 6th grade students, on May 3 at each of four classes throughout the day. They gave a powerpoint presentation of what a watershed is, and how our daily practices affect our watershed. They shared the history of the watershed district having been developed for the purpose of controlling flood waters, and having built numerous permanent pool structures  to control the intense flow of flood waters and runoff from the high altitude areas of Lincoln County, or the Buffalo Ridge. Along with the presentation, they gave the school an Enviroscape  kit and teachers' curriculum for grades 3-8. The Enviroscape model was purchased for the school with funds from a grant from the Minnesota River Board. 

Summer a busy place with interns, students at CURE

CURE staff
The Clean Up the River Environment offices in Montevideo and Granite Falls will be busy this spring and summer with projects ranging from the arts to outdoor activities. Three students from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design received a Bush Fellowship grant to spend two weeks working with CURE. Ted Birt, Dylan Adams, and Brian Wiley will be working in the community to identify ways that art and design can play a role in community and economic development. Isak Kvam will be working as a summer intern along with program organizer Sarina Otaibi on canoe-kayak trips and special events. 

CURE seeks applicants for associate director

The associate director will support the executive director by managing all operational aspects of the organization, including financial management (payroll, accounts payable, grant reporting, financial reports, budgeting), human resources, property management, and office systems. The associate director will also help write and distribute communications for the organization. Applicants should have strong skills and experience in bookkeeping, financial management, office management, written and interpersonal communication. The preferred candidate will have a personal commitment to natural resource protection and community engagement. To apply, please send resume and cover letter to marian@emrose.org by May 28, 2012. Details and full job description can be downloaded by clicking here.

Grants aimed at citizen effort for Meeker County lakes

Since 1999 the Initiative Foundation in Little Falls has assisted nearly 300 lake associations to develop citizen-based lake management plans, focusing on local options and responsibilities for implementing best management practices, including informed engagement in local land use planning processes, sponsorship of bulk septic system inspections, surveys of native and invasive aquatic vegetation, habitat improvement projects for fisheries and wildlife, nutrient management, and restoration of native  plant buffers and lakescaping projects.
This year the McKnight Foundation has provided funding to support this program in the service areas of two sister foundations; the Southwest Minnesota Initiative Foundation (focusing in Meeker County in the Crow River Watershed) and the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (working with the Cannon River Watershed Partnership). 

A primary expectation of both initiatives is that citizen groups will include both shoreland property owners and farmers, with the goal of improving understanding of the needs and concerns of both stakeholder groups between one another. Groups which host inclusive community engagement meetings, complete a strategic plan, and which begin implementation of detailed action plans are eligible to earn performance-based grants.

The Meeker County program began May 16 with confirmed participation by Manuella, Minnie-Belle, Ripley, and Big Swan lakes, and active leadership and guidance from the Meeker County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Minnesota Agriculture and Water Resource Center, the Crow River Organization for Water (CROW), various staff from DNR, and the Southwestern Minnesota Initiative Foundation.

Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge plan open for review

The Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge is in the midst of a comprehensive conservation planning process to develop guidance that will direct management of the refuge for the next 15 years. Six management alternatives are described in a draft plan. A public comment period closes June 8. More information and links to the plan can be found on the project website.

In the news

News release, to be issued 5/29/12
News release, 5/11/12
News release, 5/10/12
News release, 5/9/12
News release, 5/8/12


May 24: Environmental Initiative Awards, Nicollet Island Pavilion, Minneapolis.
May 29: End of comment periods for South Metro Mississippi, Minnesota, and Blue Earth rivers Total Maximum Daily Load reports.
June 4: Lac qui Parle-Yellow Bank TMDL public meeting, 7 p.m., county annex building, Madison
June 5: Open house, 5-6:30 p.m. Middle Fork Crow River Watershed District, Spicer.
June 8: Ag drainage workshop, Minnesota State University, Mankato.
June 27: Minnesota River Board Water Quality Professionals Assembly, City Center hotel, Mankato.
July 11: Friendship Tour, upper Minnesota River basin, Ortonville, info: 320-839-3411. 
July 16: Minnesota River Board, 9 a.m., St. Peter Community Center.


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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.
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