Watershed Connections - September 2017

Watershed Connections

September 2017

Big crowds, lively discussion at water quality meetings

water quality town hall meeting

The '25 by 25' water quality town hall meetings continue to draw large crowds. More than 200 attended the Sept. 6 event in St. Cloud. After brief comments by Gov. Dayton, state commissioners, and local speakers, the audience gathered in small groups to discuss water quality issues and offer solutions. 

Following the series of town hall meetings, the governor's office will compile all the comments and ideas into a final report. The town hall meetings continue Gov. Dayton’s efforts to protect and preserve Minnesota waters, including his “25 by 25” Water Quality proposal announced earlier this year.

Achieving a 25 percent improvement in water quality statewide would require Minnesota to take aggressive, yet achievable action. It also would help Minnesota meet existing commitments to reduce phosphorus 12 percent by 2025 and nitrogen 45 percent by 2040 in the Mississippi River. The meetings run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. with registration beginning at 6 p.m. No advance registration is necessary. A detailed list of dates and locations is available online. Remaining schedule:

  • Sept. 13: Bemidji State University.
  • Sept. 26: Minneapolis Urban League.
  • Oct. 4: Diamondhead Education, Burnsville.
  • Oct. 5: Stillwater High School, Stillwater.

Middle Fork Crow hosting '25 by 25' meeting Sept. 27

The Middle Fork Crow River Watershed District invites everyone to a community meeting Sept. 27 at the Goat Ridge Brewery in New London 5:30-7 p.m. Attendees will share ideas and give feedback on local water issues and concerns. Feedback will be sent to Gov. Dayton’s office to be used to determine regional action steps and policies to help reach a 25 percent water improvement. 

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BWSR board tours water quality projects in Kandiyohi County

grass lake

Straddling three major watersheds, Kandyohi County in central Minnesota provided a variety of water quality demonstrations for the annual summer tour of the Board of Water and Soil Resources. Wednesday, Aug. 23, they visited sites including the "Squashed Frog" RIM project, water quality improvement at Diamond Lake, Rasmus Lake RIM/WRP project, and Grass Lake restoration.

Surrounded by rural residential and cropland areas, the projects show how water management practices in agricultural areas can support ag production and water quality objectives. The watersheds on the tour included Middle and South Fork Crow, Hawk Creek, and Chippewa.

As the state's soil and water conservation agency, BWSR administers programs that prevent sediment and nutrients from entering our lakes, rivers, and streams; enhance fish and wildlife habitat; and protect wetlands. The 20-member board consists of representatives of local and state government agencies and citizens. Photo: Loren Engelby of Kandiyohi County, left, and Tom Wenzel of BWSR describe the Grass Lake restoration project southeast of Willmar. 

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'Back to school' includes environmental education

environmental education

Along with going back to school, September is a busy month for 'conservation days' education events for students. In western Minnesota, local SWCDs partner with agencies at 'outdoor classrooms' and activities. The need for more environmental education was often mentioned at the governor's water quality town hall meetings.

Sept. 15, the Swift SWCD and Chippewa River Watershed Project will be taking over Ambush Park in Benson along the Chippewa River with about 200 5th and 6th graders from Benson and Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg schools. Sept. 26-27 the Chippewa and Lac qui Parle SWCDs will have about 250 fifth graders from MACCRAY, Montevideo, Lac qui Parle Valley, and Dawson-Boyd schools at Lac qui Parle State Park.

In Pope and Stevens counties, the SWCDs host two events: Water Fest Sept. 15 for 6th graders at the Pope County fairgrounds, and Conservation Day Sept. 28 for 5th graders at the Scandia Woods Environmental Learning Lab. Participating schools include: Minnewaska, Morris Area, Chokio-Alberta, Hancock, St. Mary's, Glacial Hills, and Brooten-Belgrade-Elrosa.

On Oct. 13 about 100 students from Atwater-Grove City-Cosmos and Community Christian schools will be attending Conservation Days at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center. Participating agencies at the various events include local watershed projects, counties, DNR, PCA, and FSA. 

Online environmental education resources:

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U picks Wilson for manure management specialist post

melissa wilson

Dr. Melissa Wilson has been named assistant professor of manure management and water quality for the the U of M Dept. of Soil, Water, and Climate. Her research will focus on evaluating manure handling techniques that reduce impacts on water quality. Working in the Extension service, she plans to conduct a needs assessment gathering input from livestock producers about techniques most needed or of interest. Her past research and experience includes: cover crops and fall manure application, manure side-dressing, and stakeholder outreach. 

Prior to her new appointment, Wilson was nutrient management specialist for the Agricultural Nutrient Management Program at the University of Maryland. She received her bachelors in environmental science with a geology minor from Juniata College in Huntingdon, PA, her master’s degree and PhD in water resources science with a soil science minor from the University of Minnesota. Some of her research includes cover crops and evaluation of polymer coated urea on irrigated crops in coarse textured soils. University of Maryland photo.

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More farms earn agricultural water quality certification

hoese dairy farm

Hoese Dairy first in Carver County

The Hoese Dairy recently became the first farm in Carver County to become certified in the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program. The fifth generation dairy also raises alfalfa, corn, beans and small grains. Conservation practices include filter strips, conservation cover, precision nutrient management, and soil health building practices such as perennials crops and cover crops. Photo: MDA Assistant Commissioner Matt Wohlmann, MPCA Assistant Commissioner Rebecca Flood, Scott and Eric Hoese.

The MAWQCP is a voluntary opportunity for farmers and agricultural landowners to take the lead in implementing conservation practices that protect our water. Those who implement and maintain approved farm management practices will be certified and in turn obtain regulatory certainty for a period of ten years. 

dombeck farm certification

Dombecks certified in Otter Tail County

Bob and Tiffany Dombeck's Sandhill Dairy and Toad River Farms near Perham recently were recognized their efforts of protecting Minnesota's water quality and successful completion of Minnesota's Agricultural Water Quality Certification process. 

The Dombecks use cover crops on irrigated edible beans, corn silage and potato crops. They follow the University of Minnesota Nutrient Best Management Practices for corn and edible beans, are reducing tillage and deferring tillage to spring. In addition, they have installed buffers to address the water resource concerns. 

The Dombecks join 447 farm operations in Minnesota who have achieved Water Quality Certification status representing 260,720 acres. More than 807 new conservation practices have been implemented since the program went statewide two summers ago. Pictured: Brittany Johnson, East Otter Tail SWCD; Bob Dombeck; Darren Newville and Jim Lahn, both with EOT SWCD.

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Minnesota River Congress recruits leaders for resolutions

Minnesot River Congress logo

With 11 resolutions approved at its last full session, the Minnesota River Congress Action Board is recruiting leaders and putting resolutions into actions among its various 'interest network teams'. At its Aug. 30 meeting the Action Board directed the facilitator, Scott Sparlin, to seek any further clarification about the resolutions from their authors. The board heard reports on specific actions underway on the various resolutions, and those needing to be developed and started. Topics of resolutions include: Increasing soil organic matter, stream flow control, waters connectivity, increasing water storage, education about the river, and Minnesota River Basin Data Center funding.

Relating to the soil health topic, it was reported that Minnesota State University is newly certified as a Non-Land Grant College of Agriculture. This makes the school eligible for grants from the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Like their Land-Grant counterparts this funding can be used to promote food security, food safety and improve production agriculture. Faculty can use the funding to develop curricula and enhance agricultural related programs at their institution.

Next full Congress event Nov. 16 in metro area

The board discussed plans for the next full Minnesota River Congress Thursday, Nov. 16. Program topics will include: Water quality data update, network team activities, resolutions, and election of new Action Board members. The networking fair preceding the congress would include short presentations by exhibitors. Location of the congress event will be closer to the Twin City metro area.

Applications are welcome for Action Board membership in the following categories: Agriculture, local government (includes SWCD supervisors), business, recreation, Native American (2), and these watersheds: Watonwan, Headwaters, Pomme de Terre, and Hawk Creek. Application forms are available from Scott Sparlin, sesparlin@gmail.com.

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Ag-conservation field day events

Sept. 16: Building soil while extending the cattle grazing season, Goodhue.
Sept. 19: Dodge SWCD Plowville-Conservation field day, 8:30-3:30, 21609 CR 34, Dodge Center.
Sept. 19: Soil health field day, Faribault SWCD, 47605 180th St., Easton. 
Sept. 20: Cover crop field day, Hawk Creek Watershed Project, 8-11:45 a.m., Danube Community Center, RSVP by Sept. 15 to 320-523-3666, or heidi@hawkcreekwatershed.org.

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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