Watershed Connections - December 2016

Watershed Connections

December 2016

MPCA web service offline Dec. 9-12 for maintenance

The MPCA website will be under maintenance starting Friday, Dec. 9 at 3 p.m. All web-based services will be unavailable until Monday. Dec. 12. If you use our website, web-based applications or e-Services, they will be unavailable during that time. We recommend finishing any required business prior to Dec. 9. If you questions, or need any information from the Industrial Stormwater online pages, please contact Melissa Wenzel: Melissa.wenzel@state.mn.us or 651-757-2816.

Public drainage manual updated, available in wiki format

drainage manual

The Minnesota Public Drainage Manual has been recently updated in a wiki format. It provides guidance to drainage authorities as they administer Chapter 103E drainage systems. In addition to updating the existing chapters, a new chapter, Chapter 5: Best Management Practices, provides practical ways to identify and consider applicable Best Management Practices, both for the ditch itself, and for the contributing land in the drainage area. The information in Chapter 5 can be useful for addressing issues in any drainage system, public or private, and begins with determining problems and causes, and then selecting appropriate solutions to address the problems. First published in 1991, the manual is a guidance document and is not rule or law. It has multiple audiences including: Drainage authorities, engineers, attorneys and inspectors, landowners, and regulatory agencies.

Back to top

MPCA participates in awards given at MASWCD convention

SWCD 2016 awards

Among the numerous awards presented at the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts convention, the MPCA cosponsors the Community Conservationist award. At Monday's convention, MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine presented the award to the city of Deerwood and Summer Place Association, and Katie Kaz of Miller Hill Mall in Duluth. The MPCA joined other agencys and vendors for the trade show Monday, and also the inaugural Conservation Information Fair Tuesday (Photo below). Photo above: John Linc Stine, right, prepares to present the awards.

In 2015-2016, the city of Deerwood and Summer Place Association partnered to complete a major stormwater retrofit project that helps protect nearby Serpent Lake. In Duluth, Miller Hill Mall launched a rigorous stormwater management project that included planting trees to help cool stormwater entering Miller Creek, a designated trout stream.

Among other top awards, the SWCD of the Year award went to Pope County SWCD. The Outstanding District Employee award and Outstanding Supervisor award went to Melissa Barrick-Crow Wing SWCD Manager, and Clark Lingbeek-Cottonwood SWCD Supervisor and MASWCD Soutwest Area 5 Director, respectively. The Minnesota Outstanding Conservationist award went to Rick and Marlene Schlichting of Rice, nominated by Benton SWCD. 

Prior to the awards lunch, a plenary session focused on "How capacity funding has enhanced and accelerated the work of SWCDs. The Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts represents the 90 soil and water conservation districts of Minnesota.

Back to top

2016 SWCD fair 2
The 2016 MASWCD convention added a new event, the Conservation Information Fair, intended for Oustanding Conservationists named by county SWCDs. Shannon Martin (right, seated) and Laurie Sovell chat with visitors at the MPCA exhibit.

Minnesota River Congress votes on policy resolutions

MN River Congress-Scott

More than 80 Minnesota River basin enthusiasts gathered Nov. 17 to share information, and vote on policies and actions for the Minnesota River Congress. The seventh Congress began with a 'networking fair' in the afternoon at the Kato Ballroom in Mankato, After a dinner, the Congress learned about a 'whitewater' project in Granite Falls, and then considered a variety of policy statements.

"We spent a lot of time and energy over the past several months collecting and soliciting ideas for policy action from existing organizations that benefit economic and natural resource health of the Minnesota River Basin," said Scott Sparlin, Congress facilitator and director of Coalition for a Clean Minnesota River. Photo: Scott Sparlin, right, chats with Jeremy Geske, representing the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Resource Center with information at the networking fair about the Discovery Farms program.

After some discussion, a number of more complex policy issues were held over for future consideration. For example, one resolution called for the establishment of formal Watershed Districts with taxing authority in all 13 major watersheds in the Minnesota River Basin. Several districts and other water management organizations already cover most of the basin's watersheds. The policy resolutions and voting results will be posted on the Congress Facebook and webpage.

Granite Falls whitewater park

The first resolution considered and unanimously approved supports the development of a whitewater park in Granite Falls. Scott Tedrick of Granite Falls described the project that would create a 'fish ladder' around the existing dam, and a variety of whitewater kayak routes. Other resolutions included: More focus on smaller streams that feed into larger rivers, restore full funding to the Minnesota River Basin Data Center at Minnesota State University, push the state to do more education and implementation of best practices and seek legislative funding to complete the Minnesota River State Trail and the Minnesota Valley State Trail.

In a piece of breaking news, DNR district manager Dennis Frederickson announced that the state and Excel Energy are nearing an agreement where Excel will donate land for a public access to the site of the former Minnesota Falls dam on the Minnesota River downstream from Granite Falls.

Back to top

Watershed network hears social, political science side of water quality work

steve sodemen

The role of social and political sciences in non-point source water quality work took much of the program of the 15th watershed professionals learning and networking event Nov. 10 at Mankato. Tim Gieseke of Ag Resource Strategies described how the governance of One Watershed One Plan projects requires an understanding and collaboration of different levels and styles of government. Bob Finley and Chris Hughes, who recently retired from the MPCA and BWSR, respectively, provided insights gained from their many years of experience. Steve Sodeman (photo) described his work with crop producers as an independent crop consultant.

Independent crop consultants provide information and advice to farmer-clients about all aspects of crop production. They do not sell products, instead building relationships and trust, Sodeman says. While they may advise and encourage clients to use conservation practices, the incentives must come from elsewhere, he says. There is a need for "conservation consultants" to provide on-going education for crop producers, Sodeman says. The annual convention of the Minnesota Independent Crop Consultants Association is scheduled for Feb. 2 in Hutchinson.

Tim Gieseke sees value in understanding different governance styles and their roles in developing water quality plans at the watershed scale, which often includes a number of local and state agencies. Collaboration to find common assets and activities is occurring, but can become more efficient and effective with a better understanding of governance styles, Gieseke says.

Following years of experience at several levels of organizations, Finley believes in the need for some type of regulatory authority. "We must hold people accountable," he says. "We get too caught up in programs and process, often without a clear purpose in mind. Form should follow function." Citing the example local watershed groups such as the Cannon River Watershed Partnership, Hughes says we can be effective and make a difference by building local coalitions.

Back to top

State's nutrient reduction efforts noted at Gulf hypoxia meeting

hypoxia task force logo

Minnesota’s efforts addressing the Gulf of Mexico hypoxia issue were represented in a poster (below) during the fall public meeting of the Mississippi River Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force. The conference Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 5-6, in New Orleans included a variety of presentation topics, such as: Midwest Row Crop CollaborativeMississippi-Atchafalaya River Basin NPS Reporting ToolNational Great Rivers Research and Education Center: Working with States, Tulane Nutrient Reduction Challenge, and 2016 Hypoxia Zone Conditions Analysis. Presentations from the meeting are available on this task force webpage.

The poster features various Minnesota initiatives: Agricultural Water Quality Certification (MDA), buffers (DNR); Clean Water Accountability Act (MPCA), Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan (MDA), point source phosphorus reduction (MPCA), and Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies and One Watershed-One Plan (MPCA, BWSR, respectively). The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico affects nationally important commercial and recreational fisheries. Hypoxic zones or “dead zones” are caused by high levels of nutrients, primarily from activities such as agriculture and inadequate wastewater treatment. Attending the meeting were Rebecca Flood, the MPCA's representative on the task force, Wayne Anderson and Dave Wall, who created the poster.

Back to top

hypoxia poster

Watershed staff news

dylan erickson

Dylan Erickson joins Middle Fork Crow staff

Dylan Erickson is the new Watershed Specialist with the Middle Fork Crow River Watershed District. He grew up south of Willmar as the fifth generation in a family farm house. As a teenager he moved to Portland, Oregon with his family, where he graduated high school. Dylan took a break from higher education seeking adventure and life experience: Commercial fishing in Alaska, bike touring cross country, and working with his father in the family construction business. When academia called him back his adventures continued. At Portland Community College he led a large Cob (clay-sand-straw earthen structure) bench with eco-roof structure project on campus. Transferring to Portland State University he worked for the Outdoor Program where he led climbing, kayaking and hiking trips. He also interned with an urban forestry study where he collected and analyzed data. Dylan graduated in the spring of 2016 with a degree in Environmental Studies focused on water resource management, which led him back to Minnesota. Dylan says he is deeply thrilled to be a custodian of water and excited to meet other clean water warriors.

House joins staff at Grant County SWCD

Jared House is now with the Grant County SWCD, following about two years as project coordinator for the Pomme de Terre River Association. At the Grant SWCD he will working on the buffer law and a variety of projects for soil health and water quality. He is also assisting the Pomme de Terre River Association until a new project coordinator is hired. 

jerad house

Moudry returns to Upper Sioux Community as environmental specialist

Megan Moudry returned to the Upper Sioux Community (USC) this October as the environmental specialist, replacing Jared Wagner. Previously, she was the water quality specialist for the USC from 2009-2014. Editor's note: This corrects an article in the November newsletter, which also referred to the Pomme de Terre River Association, where Jared House has been project manager.

U of M seeks manure management-water quality specialist assistant professor

The Department of Soil, Water, and Climate at the University of Minnesota seeks an extension specialist and researcher in the area of manure management with a focus on protecting water quality. This is a nine-month (B-term) tenure-track appointment at the rank of assistant professor with duties divided between Extension (60%) and research (40%). Minimum qualifications include a Ph.D. in soil science, agronomy, environmental science, animal science, biosystems engineering, or closely related discipline by date of appointment. The position is available March 1, 2017; review of applications will begin Jan. 20. Detailed benefits information is available at:  http://www1.umn.edu/ohr/benefits/index.html.  Apply on line via the Employment System at http://employment.umn.edu. The system job number for this position is 314369.

Kandiyohi County SWCD seeks conservation technician

The Kandiyohi County SWCD is accepting applications until Dec. 9 for a conservation technician. A large part of the position will be to reach out to landowners to promote and implement buffers and other conservation practices using a variety of cost share and grant programs. Promotion and coordination of state conservation programs and federal CRP set-aside programs will be primary duties of this position. Project emphasis will be on water protection and improvement through soil and erosion reduction, fertilizer and manure management and Best Management Practice Implementation. For more information check out the job announcement.

Back to top

Watershed news briefs

Marsh Lake, Shakopee Creek events postponed due to weather

A ground-breaking event at Marsh Lake, and 20th anniversary event for the Shakopee Creek headwaters project, have been postponed due to weather. The ground-breaking for the Marsh Lake Ecosystem Restoration project at the Marsh Lake Dam near Appleton was scheduled for Nov. 21. A partnership between the Army Corps of Engineers and the Dept. of Natural Resources, the nearly $13 million Marsh Lake project involves restoring the environment to its historic conditions at Marsh Lake and improving habitat for migratory waterfowl and aquatic species in the area. Marsh Lake is on the Minnesota River between Swift and Lac qui Parle counties. The Shakopee Creek headwaters project 20th anniversary event was scheduled for Nov. 19 at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center west of Spicer. The Shakopee Creek headwaters area including Norway, Games, Andrew, and Florida lakes is in the spotlight for trying out some new tools to protect and improve water quality throughout the entire Minnesota River Basin and beyond. 

CROW photo contest entries due Jan. 1

Entries are due Jan. 1 for the Crow River Organization of Water annual photo contest. Photos will be posted on the CROW website and social media pages. Photos must be taken between Jan.1 and Dec.31, 2016. One first place winner will be chosen in each of the five categories. Winners will receive a prize of $50. Multiple entries are accepted; use of editing is prohibited. Categories: Fishing, Wildlife, Scenic, Active Recreation, and Humorous or Unusual Observation. Entries can be mailed or e-mailed to diane.sander@mn.nacdnet.net or mailed to CROW, 311 Brighton Avenue, Buffalo, MN 55313. For more information call 763-682-1933 extension 3. A separate form must be completed for each entry.

Chippewa 2017 calendar

Chippewa issues 2017 photo contest calendar

The Chippewa River Watershed Project photo contest 2017 calendar is now available free of charge to the public. Twenty-three photographers submitted entries with a total of 50 photos. Nearly half of entrants were first time participants. CRWP staff selected a winning photo for each month:

  • January: Brittany N. Johnson, Evansville
  • February: Kathy Dols, Minnetonka
  • March: Douglas Struxness, Bloomington
  • April: Ashley Rodeberg, Montevideo
  • May: MaryJo Forbord, Starbuck
  • June: Dave Jungst, Morris
  • July: Stacy Hanson, Woodbury
  • August: Daniel Ondich, Brooklyn Center
  • September: TaiAnna Moe, Benson
  • October: David Struxness, Clara City
  • November: Beth Leipholtz, Miltona
  • Decembe: Jenelle Goldenstein, Hancock

Daniel Ondich's sunset photo (right) of the Chippewa River entering Long Lake was selected the Best in Show and winner of the cash prize. Calendars 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 320-321-1718 or email jennifer.hoffman@chippewariver.org.

Back to top

U of M watershed specialist training Jan. 17-April 30

The University of Minnesota is accepting applications for the Watershed Specialist Training spring 2017 session: Jan. 17-April 30. The training is designed to help staff from SWCDs, WDs, tribes, counties, and cities strengthen their ability to protect water resources. It is entirely online so you save travel costs and interact with professionals from around the state. Gain practical skills to apply immediately and to build your career. Learn about:

  • Assessing the community and stakeholders to more effectively engage them in problem-solving,
  • Identifying social and physical data needs so you can design a monitoring or evaluation program,
  • Writing a communication strategy and effectively getting your message across to diverse audiences,
  • Justifying implementation activities that will best address the local water resource issues, and
  • Pulling it all together into a work plan that could be used for a grant proposal.

For more information contact Ann Lewandowski, WST Program Coordinator, University of Minnesota Water Resources Center, St. Paul, MN, 612-624-6765.

Back to top