Watershed Connections - August 2019

Watershed Connections

August 2019

Fishers and Farmers field day Sept. 16 in Rice County

farmers and fishers rice county

It's not often you see the words 'fishers' and farmers' used in the same context, unless you are familiar with the Fishers and Farmers Partnership. Its website describes it as "a self-directed group of non-government organizations, tribal organizations, and state and federal agencies united to add value to farms while protecting, restoring, and enhancing the 30,700 miles of rivers and streams of the Upper Mississippi River Basin." 

Fishers and farmers will team up on a field day Sept. 16 at the Roger Helgeson farm on Rice Creek, 9821 Decker Ave., Northfield. Organized by Al Kraus of the Cannon River Watershed Partnership and Rice County SWCD, the field day will explore the watershed connections between agriculture, conservation, water quality, and habitat. There will be a farmer panel on cover crops and conservation tillage, electro fishing demonstration and habitat discussion, stream table, and aquatic insect demonstration.

Since 2009 Minnesota has been represented on the Fishers and Farmers Partnership steering committee by Steve Sodeman and Jack Lauer. Steve is a farmer, crop consultant, and former Minnesota Corn Growers Association director; Jack is DNR Southern Regional Fisheries Manager in New UIm. Fishers and Farmers has helped fund several projects in Minnesota over the past 10 years, such as 7-Mile Creek, Rice Creek, Rush-Pine, Whitewater, and Root River.

"Fishers and Farmers puts landowners in the lead for better farms and fish habitat," says Heidi Keuler of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office in La Crosse. "I'm excited to see the energy from farmers in Minnesota and I hope Fishers and Farmers Partnership can keep adding to it. Our steering committee members tell me over and over again that they can accomplish so much more together than they can individually in their own organizations."

Last fall, eight farmers planted cover crops on about 800 acres of land in the Rice Creek watershed just west of Dundas in southeast Minnesota. In 7-Mile Creek, a tributary of the Minnesota River north of Mankato, they have worked with farmers to complete 65 conservation best management practices, and planted more than 100 marginal acres to perennial vegetation. Several farmers are incorporating conservation drainage, strip and no till, and cover crops. It also helps support the LeSueur River Watershed Network.