Watershed Network News - Sept. 5, 2012

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watershed network news

Sept. 5, 2012

Council seeks comments on proposed Clean Water Fund budget

The Clean Water Council is seeking comments on its proposed Clean Water Fund budget for the 2014-2015 biennium. The council will make budget recommendations to the governor and the Minnesota Legislature in December.

A public comment period begins Sept. 4 and continues through Sept. 28, 2012. The council is asking the public to comment on questions that are to be found on the Clean Water Council’s webpage at http://www.pca.state.mn.us/cleanwatercouncil.

The Clean Water Council needs to meet a $185 million target for fiscal years 2014-2015 and wants public input on budget-trimming ideas. The council is also seeking comments on how to build the long-term capacity of local government agencies to improve their ability to implement water-quality practices.

For more information, contact Celine Lyman (phone 651-757-2541, email celine.lyman@state.mn.us) or Jeff Risberg (phone 651-757-2670, email jeff.risberg@state.mn.us).

Friendship Tour visits Discovery Farm project in LeSueur River watershed

In a field of the Doug Hager farm south of Mankato, tons of top soil are missing out on a journey down the LeSueur River. When there's enough rain to matter, an earthen berm between the field and head of a ravine holds back erosive surface flow, and Discovery Farm monitoring gear samples flow through a drop inlet. The project was featured on a field tour Aug. 14, co-sponsored by Minnesota Soybean Growers and Clean Up the River Environment. The LeSueur River watershed contributes a large portion of sediment to the Minnesota River. Much of it comes from gullies and ravines. Berms with drop inlets at the top of gullies and ravines can greatly reduce such erosion.

Hager farm tour
Similar in style to other recent "friendship" tours, the evening began with a meal provided by the Blue Earth County Pork Producers, and served in the Hager's machine shed. Encouraged to intermingle, farmers, paddlers, agency staff, local officials, and neighbors created a buzz among the tables during the meal. Brad Carlson of Minnesota Extension gave an overview of ag drainage, followed by questions and discussion with the audience. Chuck Wingert, a land appraiser and drainage engineer, described drainage systems, and Doug Hager told about the family farm where they raise crops and finish hogs. At the field site, Warren Formo of the Minnesota Agriculture Water Resources Center described the Discovery Farm projects, along with MAWRC staff Tim Radatz, and Scott Matteson of the Dept. of Agriculture. 

Alliance seeks to nominate Minnesota River for National Blueways System designation

At its Aug. 28 meeting in Hutchinson, the Minnesota River Watershed Alliance agreed to serve as the organization to nominate the Minnesota River for recognition in the National Blueways System. Part of America's Great Outdoors Initiative of , the Blueways System "will provide a national emphasis on a 'source to sea' approach to river and watershed conservation, and encourage stakeholders to integrate land and water stewardship efforts by forming watershed-based, locally-led stakeholder partnerships." Charlie Blair, of the USFWS (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Bloomington, said the Minnesota River has great potential for nomination to the Blueways System. Benefits of designation include public recognition, and technical and financial assistance from federal and other agencies.

Mayors' Fishing Opener

The Alliance discussed the proposed 2013 Mayors' Fishing Opener. Due to water level issues, the statewide fishing opener date may not be suitable. A committee will be working on other aspects, such as a competition among river communities. The opener will be on the agenda for the Oct. 23 meeting.

Minnesota Falls dam removal

Patrick Moore reported that work on removing the old Minnesota Falls dam downriver from Granite Falls could begin in late September or early October. He suggested that the Alliance vote on a resolution at the next meeting, encouraging the DNR to acquire the Xcel property for public use. Oct. 11, CURE is hosting a dialogue on dam removal issues.

Big Stone quarry proposal

Patrick reported that the city of Ortonville is seeking to annex Big Stone Township, to pave the way for Strata Corp. to develop a granite quarry near the Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge. The township has passed an ordinance establishing planning and zoning authority in an effort to stop the project.

Minnesota Water Trails 50th anniversary

Erik Wrede, DNR water trails coordinater, said a 50th anniversary event is being planned for June or July 2013. It would be a 6- to 7-mile paddle on the upper Minnesota River, and could tie into existing community events. Minnesota started the water trail system in 1963. One of the first states to do so, there are now 33 water trails over 4,400 miles in Minnesota.

Watershed newsbriefs

River Board bestows annual awards

At its July 16 meeting in St. Peter, in conjunction with its annual meeting, the Minnesota River Board presented two recognition awards. The Minnesota River Confluence Award was presented to the city of Shakopee. Using its stormwater fund, the city has installed 20 rain gardens, completed a major ravine stabilization, and protected a calcereous fen.
The Tributary Award went to Michelle Stindtman, Faribault County SWCD district manager, for the county's water quality initiatives. The SWCD office serves the county for planning and zoning, drainage, and provides a "one stop shop" for the public.

After a number of changes, the Hawk Creek Watershed Project has re-grouped, and is preparing for its annual appreciation picnic Sept. 14, 11:30 a.m. at Lions Park in Maynard. It's an opportunity to meet the two new staff members, coordinator Heidi Rauenhorst, and water quality technician Jordan Austin, and learn about the new joint powers agreement with Chippewa, Kandiyohi, and Renville counties. 

Chippewa project seeks feedback through online survey

The Chippewa River Watershed Project is using the online survey tool Surveymonkey to gather feedback on the water quality issues affecting the Chippewa River and its residents. "By sharing your opinions you can help direct activities and choose meaningful actions for a healthy and viable watershed community." Survey results will be used for planning. Surveys are due Sept. 30, and they are offering a drawing for $50 gift card. For more information, contact Jennifer Hoffman, 320-269-2139.

Dritz appointed to Yellow Medicine board

Lincoln County farmer Tim Dritz has been appointed to the Yellow Medicine River Watershed District board of managers. He will be sworn in at the district's Sept. 10 meeting, and will replace Don Oerter.  

Shoreline restoration workshop Sept. 20 in Spicer

The Middle Fork Crow River Watershed District will be hosting a shoreline restoration workshop, Thursday Sept. 20, 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m . at the American Legion, Spicer. Presented by the Minnesota Erosion Control Association, it will describe techniques, cases studies, rules and regulations, and native plants. There will be vendor displays and product presentations, and an optional tour of shoreline restoration/stabilization projects in the area. Workshop flyer and registration information is available on the MECA web site at www.mnerosion.org.

9th annual Crow River clean-up Sept. 15

The 9th annual Crow River clean-up will Saturday, Sept. 15, at various locations. In the past eight years, the Crow River Organization of Water has helped coordinate more than 2,061 citizens to remove more than 55.2 tons of trash from 278.25 miles of shoreline on the Crow River and its tributaries. Volunteers receive lunch at noon, and a T-shirt. For more information, contact Dan Nadeau, CROW Watershed Resource Specialist at 763-682-1970 or by email daniel.nadeau@mn.nacdnet.net.

Videos tell stories of Minnesota River activists

Anne Queenan has captured Scott Sparlin's recollections for our Oral History Project on the Clean Up the Minnesota River Citizens movement. Another video features John Hickman, who has been working to create awareness and a culture of Working Together to Restore the Minnesota River. You can see the short video clips or read the whole transcript of Scott's interview on the Clean Up the River Environment website. John Hickman's oral history is also posted there.

Photo contests

Lac qui Parle-Yellow Bank 

The Lac qui Parle-Yellow Bank Clean Water Partnership is sponsoring a photo contest for a 2013 calendar and use on their website and brochures with credits given. Cash prizes awarded with the first place photo receiving $50, second place $30 and third place $20. You do not need to live within the watershed to submit a photo.  Digital photos are preferred. There is a maximum of 3 photos per person. Picture ideas include scenic views of rivers and lakes, fun water activities, wildlife, or seasonal pictures. Contest entry form with map of the watershed can be downloaded from our website at www.lqpybwatershed.org; click on Clean Water Partnership button, or contact Mary Homan at 320-598-3319 or mary.homan@lqpco.com. Deadline for entering is Nov. 2.

Chippewa River

The Chippewa River Watershed Project needs entries for the 6th annual photo contest. The winning photos will be published in a 2013 calendar and featured on the Chippewa River Watershed Project website and other publications. The “Best in Show” winner will have their winning photo professionally matted and framed. Photo submissions are due by Oct. 1. Entries (maximum 3 per person) should include a river or lake feature or have a water quality theme and be taken within the last three years. For more complete contest rules and registration forms, visit the Chippewa River Watershed Project’s website www.chippewariver.com, or contact Jennifer Hoffman, 320-269-2139..

Ag Water Quality Certification committee sees pilot projects at HUC 12 scale

Pilot projects for the Agriculture Water Quality Certification (AWQC) program may occur at the sub-watershed (HUC 12) scale, according to discussion at the AWQC advisory committee meeting Aug. 20. Pilot projects would help develop a structure for certification, and implementation statewide. Selection of pilot sub-watersheds would come from the advisory committee working with various water management agencies. The process includes determining the number of projects, duration, and type of subwatershed. 

Several presentations at the Aug. 20 meeting in St. Paul provided background on the development of conservation practices and water quality standards. John Brach of the Natural Resources Conservation Service addressed the interim approval of denitrifying bioreactors as a conservation practice. Bruce Montgomery, Department of Agriculture, described the development of ag best management practices. Shannon Lotthammer, Pollution Control Agency, gave an overview of water quality standards. In a phone conference with Michigan officials, the committee heard about the Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program. It provides incentives for farmers to become verified in meeting various environmental measures. 

The AWQC program was launched in January with a memorandum of understanding between the state and federal government (EPA, USDA). The advisory committee is composed of representatives from agriculture, water management organizations, environment groups, and cities. The next meeting is Sept. 10 at the Veterans' Service building in St. Paul. The Oct. 29 meeting will be at the public library in Willmar. Persons interested in receiving e-mail updates may sign up the registration webapgeFor more information, contact Brad Redlin, project manager, 651-201-6589, brad.redlin@state.mn.us. 

In the news

St. Paul Pioneer Press, 9/1/12
New Ulm Journal, 9/1/12
News release, 8/29/12
News release, 8/6/12


Sept. 8: 30th annual Prairie Pothole Day, Roger Strand farm, New London.
Sept. 10: Ag Water Quality Certification Technical Advisory Committee, Veterans Service Building, St. Paul.
Sept. 14: Hawk Creek Watershed Project annual picnic, 11:30-1:30, Lions Park, Maynard.
Sept. 15: 9th annual Crow River clean-up, various locations.
Sept. 17: Minnesota River Board, 9 a.m., county health and human services building, Willmar.
Sept. 21: Workshop: Restoring the soil, WCROC, Morris; other webcast locations.
Oct. 16-17: Water Resources Conference, St. Paul RiverCentre.
Oct. 23: Minnesota River Watershed Alliance, 5 p.m., Ridgewater College, Hutchinson.
Oct. 29: Ag Water Quality Certification Technical Advisory Committee, Willmar public library.
Oct. 29-31: BWSR Academy, Cragun's Conference Center, Brainerd.
Dec. 2-4: MASWCD annual convention, St. Cloud.


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Watershed Network News welcomes news from partners about funding opportunities, project updates and events. Email your news to forrest.peterson@state.mn.us.  Please note that the MPCA has switched to a new service, called GovDelivery. To ensure delivery of these messages, please add mpca@public.govdelivery.com to your address book or safe sender list. Please forward this to any other interested parties. Past issues are located on the Watershed Network publications webpage
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