Watershed Connections - June 2017

Watershed Connections

June 2017

Feedlot newsletter expands scope to agriculture stewardship

Ag Stewardship newsletter

Beginning with the May issue, the MPCA's Feedlot Update newsletter now appears under a new name: Agriculture Stewardship - Land, Water, Livestock. A continuation of the Feedlot Update newsletter, it will offer wider news coverage of ag and water quality issues. Going forward, the Feedlot Update newsletter will remain in use on a quarterly or as-needed basis. Launched in 2002, the newsletter currently goes to 2,331 reciepents among livestock and crop producers, organizations, and agency staff. You can log into our newsletter subscription service to see all MPCA newsletters, and choose which ones you would like to receive, or review your current selections. We welcome your ideas and feedback. Thanks for your readership and interest! Contact: Forrest Peterson, 320-441-6972, forrest.peterson@state.mn.us

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Team up to paddle Minnesota River in a Day June 10

minnesota river

The Dept. of Natural Resources invites paddlers to help celebrate National Get Outdoors Day June 10 by collectively navigating the entire Minnesota River. The goal is for as many people as possible to cover all 318 miles of the Minnesota River State Water Trail.

Paddlers can join DNR-led trips between Belle Plaine and Carver or form their own groups. Last year more than 200 people participated and collectively covered all 318 miles of the river. There is no charge to participate, but paddlers should register by contacting Alexander Watson at alexander.watson@state.mn.us. Kayaks and canoes are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Minnesota River State Water Trail starts at the headwaters near Big Stone Lake in Ortonville and joins the Mississippi River in St. Paul. It flows through diverse terrain, ranging from steep granite bluffs to marshy lowlands and agricultural areas. It is a gentle, placid river, with the only rapids on the river near Granite Falls. To commit to a stretch of river or learn more about the event, visit www.mndnr.gov/riverinaday or contact the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us or 888-646-6367 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday).

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Minnesota River Congress staying on course for cleaner water

Jay Gustafson MN River Congress

Like the river it champions, the Minnesota River Congress flows unceasing toward its goal of uniting everyone working for the economic, natural, and social vitality of the Minnesota River basin. "Minnesota River Congress staying the course," West Central Tribune, May 27, 2017, by Tom Cherveny.

More than 80 river enthusiasts gathered May 18 at the Redwood Falls Community Center for the eighth Congress to network and learn about the "State of the River - past, present, and future." What they learned provides a foundation of knowledge about the basin's history, water quality, pollution issues, and solutions such as conservation farming practices. (Photo: L-R: Darby and Geri Nelson talk with Jay Gustafson, who is planning to paddle the Minnesota River and all of its major tributaries this summer)

  • Grant Breitkreutz, whose Stoney Creek Farm ranges along a southside river bluff near Redwood Falls, described how they manage 450 acres of pasture, 350 acres of no-till crops, and 150 Red Angus cows. Crop residue and cover crops contribute most of the forage. Buffers protect waterways, and soil health is vastly improved.
  • Todd Geselius, of the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative, reported that of the co-op's total 120,000 acres, more than 100,000 are being seeded with a cover crop.
  • Travelling from Salt Lake City for the Congress, Dr. Peter Wilcock reviewed the work of the Collaborative for Sediment Source Reduction.
  • Other presentations included: Pat Baskfield of on MPCA on hydrology, Kim Musser of MSU on history of water quality work in the basin, Brad Redlin on Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program, Clark Lingbeek on Greater Blue Earth River Basin Alliance actions, and Tabor Hoek of BSWR on the history and future of  CREP in the Minnesota River Basin.

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Open house June 8 for Minnesota River Valley master plan

A public open house is scheduled for 4:30-7:30 p.m., Thursday, June 8, at the Redwood Falls public library, to receive written comments about the Minnesota River Valley Recreation and Conservation Master Plan. The plan, being developed by the Dept. of Natural Resources in 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. "This is an exciting milestone for the project," says Redwood County Environmental Director Scott Wold. "I look forward to working with the community as we move from the planning stage and begin implementing the recommendations." 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.

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MN River Valley Master Plan

Ag water quality certification taps into Conservation Corps

conservation corps

The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) partnered with the Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa by supporting two corps members to work alongside area certification specialists in the southeastern and north central areas. The two corps members, along with 30 others located within Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) throughout Minnesota, will spend their summer working with natural resource professionals to learn hands-on skills in managing soil and water resources.

Recently, MAWQCP field operations and training coordinator, Bill Fitzgerald, presented on the certification program at the Corps' week-long training at the Forest Resource Center. This effort is MAWQCP's contribution to building the next generation of conservation employees. To date, MAWQCP has certified more than 400 producers across the state. To get started on certification, contact your local SWCD and check out MAWQCP’s webpage at www.mylandmylegacy.com.

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DNR position assists watersheds in northwest Minnesota

annette drewes

Travel interstate 94 from Alexandria to Fergus Falls, a stretch of 50 miles, and you can dip your toes into waters that flow to the Minnesota, Mississippi, and Red Rivers (http://bit.ly/2qSP2y7). Or farther north, on Highway 72 south from Baudette to Hwy 71 into Bemidji, you cross water ways that travel into the Red, Mississippi and Lake of the Woods (http://bit.ly/2qTcCuv). Twenty-six watersheds, flowing into four major basins, define this region. Annette Drewes, DNR’s Clean Water Legacy Specialist, works across these watersheds leading and assisting efforts to protect and restore clean water.

Created with Clean Water Legacy Amendment funds, Drewes' position serves to coordinate integration of DNR resources and data into Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies and One Watershed One Plan projects in the region. Along with specialists in hydrology, fisheries, forestry, parks and trails, and wildlife, she works to assist local communities in water planning and communicate best practices for sustaining healthy communities (with healthy water) into the future. If you would like to have her come speak to your group, or would like additional information, Drewes can be contacted at 218-308-2468 or Annette.drewes@state.mn.us

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Shakopee Creek headwaters project celebrates 20 years

shakopee creek map

A celebration of water quality efforts over the past 20 years in the Shakopee Creek headwaters area will be 5-8 p.m. Thursday, June 15 at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center, Spicer. The public is invited to a free picnic meal starting at 5 p.m., followed by a short program and activities for kids.

The Shakopee Creek headwaters of the Chippewa River Watershed is in the spotlight for trying out some new modeling tools to protect and improve water quality throughout the entire Minnesota River Basin and beyond. Led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Minnesota Environmental Quality Board, local, state, and federal agencies are collaborating on better tools for conservation crews and landowners.

Since Shakopee Creek Headwaters project started in 1996, approximately 200 Best Management Practices have been completed including: More than 70 onsite sewage treatment system upgrades, 2,000 acres of wetland restorations, and 31,000 feet of shoreline protection and stream buffer projects. 

Reservations received by June 12 will be entered in a drawing for a $100 gift certificate at Creekside Greenhouse, six miles north of Pennock on County Road 1. To RSVP contact Kylene Olson, director, Chippewa River Watershed Project, 320-321-1717, kylene@chippewariver.org

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Prairie BioBlitz June 24 at Glacial Lakes State Park

prairie bioblitz

Land Stewardship Project’s 2017 Prairie BioBlitz is scheduled for Saturday, June 24, at Glacial Lakes State Park south of Starbuck in Pope County. A BioBlitz is an intense period of biological surveying in an attempt to record as many living species possible in a designated area. Groups of scientists, naturalists, and volunteers conduct this survey over a specific period of time.

In partnership with the Chippewa River Watershed Project (CRWP) and Clean Up the River Environment (CURE) it will showcase Minnesota public lands, featuring the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Dept. of Natural Resources. Learn about and take species surveys on land managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as on native prairie in Glacial Lakes State Park and a private prairie area managed with a Fish and Wildlife Service easement. The event is appropriate for all ages, and organizations are welcome. RSVP and sign up for volunteer shifts at SignUp.com. You may also contact Robin Moore to sign up for shifts. Robin Moore, e-mail, 320-321-5244. Photo from LSP website.

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Gov. Dayton schedules water quality town hall meetings

25 by 25 logo

Starting in July Gov. Mark Dayton plans to host a series of 10 town-hall-style meetings across the state to discuss water quality. They are part of the governor’s goal of improving water quality 25 percent by 2025. A study by state agencies found about 40 percent of Minnesota’s waters are polluted or impaired. Gov. Dayton has made improving the state’s water quality a priority of his second and final term as governor. Meeting locations and dates:

  • Rochester – July 31
  • Marshall – Aug. 16
  • Mankato – Aug. 17
  • Crookston – Sept. 5
  • St. Cloud – Sept. 6
  • Ely – Sept. 12
  • Bemidji – Sept. 13
  • Minneapolis – Sept. 26
  • Burnsville – Oct. 4
  • Maplewood – Oct. 5

Additional information will be available at www.eqb.state.mn.us/25by25.

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Study shows SWCDs boost Minnesota economy

A recently study shows that soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) are part of a $411 million industry that supports more than 3,300 Minnesota jobs. The state study analyzed the economic impact of the National Resources Conservation Service, Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, the Farm Service Agency's Conservation Reserve Program, and SWCDs. Specifically, the 2016 study found that SWCDs contribute about 635 jobs to Minnesota's economy and create $68 million in economic activity.

“The best part about the economic impact of SWCDs is that it can be felt in every region of the state," says LeAnn Buck, executive director of the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts. "We are proud to have a boots-on-the ground presence in every Minnesota community, working with landowners on a voluntary basis to improve water quality and soil health."

 The study was conducted using Impact Analysis for Planning software, a trusted model to estimate economic impacts. The results were analyzed and approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This is the first-ever economic impact study of conservation delivery partnership's work in Minnesota.

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'Good for economy' is Year of Water Action theme for June

year of water action logo

'Clean water is good for our economy' is the June theme of Gov. Mark Dayton's “Year of Water Action”. Gov. Dayton encourages all Minnesotans to take a role in protecting our state’s most precious resource for future generations. Gov. Dayton has called on Minnesotans to work together to find solutions to keep Minnesota’s water clean and accessible to everyone. Despite the state’s abundance of lakes, rivers, groundwater and streams, more than 40 percent of Minnesota’s waters are currently listed as impaired or polluted. 

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Ag-conservation field day events

June 21: Benefits of cover crops, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Renville Community Center.
June 21: Wisconsin Discovery Farm Water Tour, Marshfield.
June 22: Wisconsin Discovery Farm Water Tour, River Falls.
June 28: UM-NDSU Extension Soil Health Field Day, Morris
July 10-11: Summer Beef Tour, Starbuck.
July 18: Soil and water management field day, SWROC, Lamberton.
July 19: Organic field school, SWROC, Lamberton.
Sept. 6: Strip till expo, Fergus Falls, details TBA.
Sept. 8: Cover crop and soil health learning tour, Rushmore, details TBA.

If you know of other field day events for this calendar, please contact Forrest Peterson, 320-441-6972, forrest.peterson@state.mn.us. Thanks!

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