Watershed Connections - March 2017

Watershed Connections

March 2017

Get hooked on volunteering and help Minnesota’s waters

water monitoring

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is seeking volunteers for its Citizen Stream and Citizen Lake Monitoring Programs. More than 1,200 Minnesotans participate in the Citizen Monitoring Programs, but in order to reach all water bodies across Minnesota, more volunteers are needed. Equipment and training are provided by the MPCA and no prior experience is necessary.

Laurie Sovell, coordinator of the MPCA’s Citizen Stream Monitoring Program, says “105,000 miles of rivers and streams, and 12,200 lakes is a lot of water to cover. We are looking for people curious about local water bodies and passionate about protecting our state’s water resources.” 

For some lakes and streams, volunteer-collected data is the only data available, making citizen involvement critical to ensuring the lasting health of Minnesota’s watersFind out if your favorite lake or stream needs monitoring by using the MPCA’s interactive map at http://www.pca.state.mn.us/d4awwwdTo become a volunteer or learn more about the program, visit the program’s website at www.pca.state.mn.us/cmp, or call 651-296-6300 (Twin Cities) or 800-657-3864 (Greater Minnesota).

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DNR, counties develop Minnesota River Valley recreation and conservation plan

mn river valley plan

Following public meetings last fall and in Feburary, the Minnesota River Valley Recreation Area Master Plan is expected to be completed later this spring.

The plan, being developed by the DNR collaboration with Redwood and Renville counties, will leverage natural, recreational, cultural, historical and agricultural assets located within two miles either side of the Minnesota River in the two counties.

The plan's objectives are:

  • To develop an outdoor recreational destination that would promote regional economic growth, development, and tourism while respecting private lands and the agricultural heritage of the area.
  • To address the conservation of the natural and cultural resources of the Minnesota River Valley area in Redwood and Renville counties.
  • To provide for the shared use, enjoyment, and understanding of these resources through a broad selection of outdoor recreational opportunities and recreational travel routes that connect units of the outdoor recreation system in the river valley.

The plan will also address the impacts to the natural and cultural resources, interpretive services, recreational opportunities, and administrative activities in the area and provide recommendations on the unit designation of the area under the Outdoor Recreation Act.

In 2013, The Minnesota River Valley Citizen’s Advisory Committee report formalized a number of recommendations. In 2014 legislation was enacted directing DNR to develop a master plan. Chapter 290-H.F. No.2852, Sec. 65In 2015, DNR partnered with Renville and Redwood counties to start a coordinated master planning process.

West Central Tribune photo: Olivia Mayor Sue Hilgert, second from left, makes a point a during a small group discussion at the second public meeting Feb. 15 devoted to developing the Minnesota River plan. West Central Tribune news story

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Section 319 grant application deadline extended to March 6

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has set March 6 as the new deadline for applying for federal grants to reduce water pollution. Funded by the Clean Water Act Section 319 program, these grants help local partners reduce nonpoint source pollution in lakes and streams. The MPCA anticipates about $2.5 million will be available this year, contingent upon Congressional appropriation. One change this year is a minimum request of $50,000. For the application and more information, visit the MPCA website.

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Wanted: Program ideas for Watershed Network event April 20

watershed network logo

The spring watershed networking and learning meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 20 at the Redwood Falls Pizza Ranch, 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. We welcome your ideas for program topics. All organizations are welcome to bring copies of any new publications or other materials for a display table.

Tentative program topics include:

Any program updates will be announced later. This will be the 16th event since starting in 2009. Information about previous meetings is located on the watershed network web page. The Pizza Ranch lunch buffet is $10.38. Further details will be sent closer to the date. Hope you can make it April 20.

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Minnesota River Congress May 18 at Redwood Falls

Everyone interested in the economic and natural resource health of the Minnesota River basin is welcome at the next Minnesota River Congress, Thursday, May 18 at the Redwood Falls Community Center. Congress organizers are actively seeking participants for the nine Interest Network Teams: Public Policy, Resource Conservation, Communications, Education, Recreation, Civic Engagement, Financial Resources, Partnerships and Outreach, Programs and Initiatives. If you or anyone you know is interested in participating, contact Scott Sparlin at sesparlin@gmail.comMore information about the Congress is on Facebook and Blogspot.

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Congress map graphic

Watershed news briefs

Chippewa River summer intern applications due March 10

The Chippewa River Watershed Project (CRWP) is accepting applications for a summer intern. Applications are due via email or postmarked by Friday, March 10. This is a temporary, seasonal internship for approximately 12 weeks. For more information contact Jennifer at 320-321-1718 or jennifer.hoffman@chippewariver.org. To apply, submit resume including cover letter via U.S. mailChippewa River Watershed Project, 629 N 11th Street, Suite 17, Montevideo, MN 56265, or e-mail to Jennifer.

Applications due March 17 for Lac qui Parle SWCD district manager

Applications for district manager with the Lac qui Parle County Soil and Water Conservation District are due by noon on March 17. Located in Madison, the manager directs operations working with the board of supervisors. For more information check out the job announcement. District manager Terri Wittnebel will be retiring April 30 after a 31-year career with the district.

Hawk Creek annual meeting highlights cover crops, groundwater, nitrates

Cover crops, groundwater, and nitrates in drainage water led the topics at the 15th annual Hawk Creek Watershed 'information and appreciation' meeting Feb. 22 in Renville. After a project update by Hawk Creek Watershed Project coordinator Heidi Rauenhorst, speakers included Lizabeth Stahl, U of M-Extension; Amanda Strommer, Dept. of Health, and Brad Carlson, U of M-Extension. Since 2000, Hawk Creek has worked with 903 landowners on 1,486 projects. In 2016 there were nine cover crop projects on 362 acres. Addressing nitrates in drainage, Carlson says farmers must use all available tools to reduce nitrogen loss. Half of all drainage occurs on seven calendar days, and cover crops could help alleviate nitrogen loss, he said. He encourages farmers to use the Nitrogen Smart Program, and refer to the BMPs in the statewide Nutrient Reduction Strategy report. News story in West Central Tribune.

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Soil Health Day March 23 at Ridgewater College in Willmar

The Ridgewater College Agri-Business Dept. and Kandiyohi County NRCS office are hosting a Soil Health Day March 23 at Ridgewater in Willmar. Presentation topics will include cover crops, livestock, tillage, and a rainfall simulator. Ridgewater has the largest two-year agri-business program in the state. At a previous Ridgewater Soil Health Day in 2015, Charlie Cunningham talked about the success of more than two decades of no till farming on more than 3,000 acres he and his partners farm southeast of Willmar in Kandiyohi County. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Ag Department (campus map)

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MN-WI Discovery Farms launches online discussion site

waterway network

The Discovery Farms programs of Wisconsin and Minnesota have launched an online farmer-only discussion forum. The WaterWay Network is a password-protected, online platform exclusively for farmers, crop consultants, and hand-picked experts. It will discuss cover crops, nutrient management, soil health, and water quality. Farmers and crop consultants will provide the applied knowledge and experience, while Discovery Farms and University experts will bring science to the discussion. If you are a farmer or crop consultant, register for an account today and get your questions answered at www.waterwaynetwork.org. There is no fee to participate.

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EPA to host Webinar March 9 on 'Model My Watershed' tool

EPA watershed webcasts logo

EPA will be hosting a Watershed Academy Webcast on the new tool “Model My Watershed” on Thursday, March 9 from noon to 2 p.m. “Model My Watershed” is a user-friendly, online watershed modeling application that allows users to learn how land use and soil together determine whether rainfall infiltrates into the soil, runs off into streams, or is evaporated and transpired by plants. This web tool is intended to provide an easy-to-use professional-grade modeling package to inform land-use decisions, support conservation practices, and enhance watershed education.

The webcast will provide an overview and a demonstration of the application and will highlight how the tool is being used by several states for their total maximum daily load, nonpoint source, and municipal stormwater programs. Webcast participants are eligible to receive a certificate for their attendance. Register for the Webcast 

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