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In This Issue

Betsy and Ed Sturm with their daughter Julia

 

 
Crew members cutting weeds at Whitetail Woods to promote native vegetation
 

 

 

 

 
Lindsey Albright,
Water Resource Specialist
 
Students headed out to catch bugs on the prairie

 

 

 

 
A full trolley during a tour of the prairie at the Dakota County Fairgrounds

 

 
Snow plows out salting on a beautiful day in Minnesota
 
Waiting for information on our Landscaping for Clean Water Workshops?  Be sure to check our website in January for a list of workshops scheduled in 2016

Outstanding Conservationist 
Award

Betsy and Ed Sturm were recently recognized by the Dakota County SWCD as their 2015 Outstanding Conservationist for their leadership in conservation.  Betsy, Ed, and daughter Julia live on Alimagnet Lake in Burnsville and have steered multiple efforts to protect water quality in the lake and surrounding areas.  

Betsy and Ed restored native vegetation along the shoreline at their family home to prevent erosion and provide wildlife habitat.  They also installed a raingarden on their property to capture and infiltrate street runoff which previously drained directly to the lake.   In addition to this work on their property, the Sturm’s coordinated volunteers for the installation of a 1,600 square foot raingarden at their Church in the City of Eagan. 

The Sturm’s are active in their lake association and are involved in ongoing efforts to improve water quality.  The Sturms will be recognized at the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation District’s Annual Convention in December.  Thank you to the Sturm family for being leaders in conservation!
Sturm raingarden with curb cut to treat street runoff

Conservation Crews Help Protect Water Quality

Raingardens, shorelines, and native plantings in Dakota County are getting improvements that will help keep pollutants out of local lakes, rivers, and wetlands. 

Stormwater treatment features located at various sites at Dakota County parks, libraries, and service centers are designed to filter our pollutants and get stormwater to soak into the ground.  Crews from Conservation Corps Minnesota have been working with Dakota County Parks and SWCD staff to evaluate plant health, soil moisture, weed pressure, and overall performance at each site.  Crews have been fixing erosion, establishing native vegetation, clearing invasive weeds, and making modifications to improve the performance of each site. Conservation Corps crew members have also been working with volunteers to educate and lead them in planting and restoring native vegetation at various sites. 

Funds for the Conservation Corps labor are available through a grant as part of the Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment for the purpose of protecting, enhancing and restoring water quality in lakes, rivers and streams and to protect groundwater and drinking water sources from degradation.

Crew members explaining how a raingarden at Lebanon Hills Visitor Center helps keep pollution out of Schulze and McDonough Lakes

SWCD Welcomes Lindsey Albright

Lindsey comes to us after working with the Wisconsin Department of Natural as the Water Action Volunteers (WAV) volunteer stream monitoring program coordinator and the Citizen Lake Monitoring Network (CLMN) lake level monitoring program. As the WAV coordinator, Lindsey worked with over 400 volunteers across the state to monitor water quality (DO, pH, streamflow, biotic index) in local streams, as well as spearheaded the total phosphorus monitoring program at 100 sites in 2014 and over 200 sites in 2015. For the lake level monitoring program, Lindsey developed the monitoring protocols for the volunteers, as well as the surveyors, and led several trainings over the course of the summer in different areas around the state.

Additionally, she has previous experience working with a number of different organizations managing and executing environmental research projects (Riley-Purgatory-Bluff Creek Watershed Dis­trict, US Army Corps of Engineers, National Parks Service, Boston University), as well as working with different organizations engaged in environmental education and public outreach (the Minnesota Zoo and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society). Lindsey graduated from the University of Sydney in Sydney, Australia with a Masters Degree in Environmental Science in 2011.
 
Lindsey will be leading water monitoring programs that the Dakota County SWCD implements through state and local partnerships as well as assisting with a variety of education and outreach activities.

Outdoor Education Days

In September the Dakota SWCD held its 15th annual Outdoor Education Days event at the 210 acre restored prairie on the Dakota County Fairgrounds in Farmington, MN.  Approximately 1,000 5th grade students, teachers, and chaperones from eight local elementary schools attended the four day event.  Children visited five education stations to experience hands-on learning with volunteer educators:  1) Agriculture with University of MN Extension and 4-H, 2) Fall Phenology with Dakota County Parks, 3) Prairie with the National Parks Service, 4) Soils with NRCS, and 5) Water with the SWCD. 

For more information view a virtual tour online at: http://www.dakotacountyswcd.org/map_tour_oed/index.html#map

Iowa Legislators Visit Dakota County

On September 23rd, the Dakota SWCD hosted a tour for Iowa state legislators and conservation professionals.  The tour included looking at past vegetative buffer examples and program implementation, conservation practices installed with Minnesota Clean Water Fund grant dollars, and suburban to rural transition issues.

The trip was organized by State Representative Chuck Isenhart, ranking member of Iowa’s House Environmental Protection Committee, in cooperation with the University of Minnesota Water Resources Center. The tour provided the group with an opportunity to find new and different ways of addressing Iowa’s water quality issues, many of which are similar to Minnesota’s. The group first met with Minnesota state agency representatives to review soil and water conservation policies, programs, and governance structures. Then they began their trip back toward Iowa, first stopping in Dakota County, then travelling to southern Minnesota to see similar projects in Dodge and Mower Counties.
Participants of the Iowa Legislative Tour

Prairie Tours During the Dakota County Fair

The Dakota SWCD provided tours of the fairgrounds prairie during this year’s Dakota County Fair and developed displays for the Natural Resources Building.  The building was a cooperative effort between the Dakota County Agricultural Society, Dakota County SWCD, Dakota County, Pheasants Forever, MN DNR, NRCS, Trout Unlimited, MN Bluebird Recovery, and Dakota County 4H Shooting Sports and Wildlife.  The SWCD narrated one hour prairie tours Tuesday through Friday during the fair highlighting the history, management, and benefits of the 210 acre restored prairie at the headwaters of the South Branch of the  Vermillion River.

Low Interest Loans Available

The SWCD offers low interest loans for landowners to install conservation practices on their property.  The SWCD uses the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s AgBMP Loan Program to offer 3.0% to 3.5% interest loans to finance the installation of best management practices such as livestock waste management systems, individual septic systems, structural erosion control and the purchase of conservation tillage equipment. 
 
Funds are available for loans through this program.  Contact the SWCD at 651-480-7777 for more information.

Chloride Pollution On the Rise in Metro Area

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) recently released a draft Chloride Management Plan for the 7 county metro area in an effort to mitigate chloride pollution. Currently, there are 37 waterbodies that have elevated chloride levels and the trend is increasing. Most of the chloride comes from winter application of road salt on roads, parking lots, and sidewalks in urban areas. When the snow and ice melts, the salt goes with it into our lakes, streams, wetlands, and groundwater. In more rural areas, water softening systems that use salt are the main source of chloride.

An important goal of the draft Plan is to protect water resources, but also balance the importance of safe roads, sidewalks, and parking lots.

Salt can be harmful to fish and other aquatic organisms. It can also affect drinking water supplies, infrastructure, vehicles, plants, soil, pets, and wildlife. Furthermore, chloride is a permanent pollutant that does not degrade over time and cannot feasibly be removed; the only known method is reverse osmosis treatment which can be cost prohibitive.

So what can be done? How can we balance protecting water resources and ensuring safety? By applying the right amount of the right product at the right time, we can accomplish both goals. Smarter application will also save money on labor and products, and reduce damage to infrastructure, vehicles, plants, and water supplies. The MPCA is finalizing a Winter Maintenance Assessment Tool which can be used to evaluate current practices, discover areas to improve, and track progress.

For ideas on how to safely reduce salt use, or to review the draft Chloride Management Plan, visit the Metropolitan Area Chloride Project page at http://www.pca.state.mn.us/index.php/water/water-types-and-programs/minnesotas-impaired-waters-and-tmdls/tmdl-projects/special-projects/metro-area-chloride-project/road-salt-and-water-quality.html#tips .

 
Copyright © 2015 Dakota County Soil & Water Conservation District, All rights reserved.


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