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In This Issue

2016 Conservation Cooperator Award

Wayne and Bernadette Kieffer of Hastings were recently recognized by the Dakota County SWCD with the 2016 Conservation Cooperator Award for their leadership and contributions in protecting our natural resources.

Wayne, his wife Bernadette, and their sons Tim and Kevin are fourth and fifth generation dairy producers that have operated in Dakota County for over 120 years. The Kieffer’s maintain six hundred animals and operate 840 acres of corn, soybeans, alfalfa and canning crops.

Over the past several years, they have constructed a new manure storage pit to more efficiently manage their livestock waste, installed 1.2 miles of grassed waterways and constructed eight water and sediment control basins to reduce soil loss  during high water events, implemented an irrigation water management plan, and permanently protected 130 acres of natural area and prime farmland from future development.
The Kieffer’s are great stewards of the land and continue to look at new ways to improve water quality within their farming operation. The Kieffer’s will  be recognized at the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation District’s Annual Convention in December. Thank you to the Kieffer family for being leaders in conservation!

Outdoor Education Days

SWCD hosts successful Outdoor Education Days event for local 5th graders

The Dakota County SWCD held its annual Outdoor Education Days event at the 210 acre restored prairie on the Dakota County Fairgrounds in Farmington in mid-September.  

Approximately 700 5th grade students, teachers, and chaperones from six local elementary schools attended the three day event. Children visited five education stations to experience hands-on learning with volunteer educators:

  1. Agriculture presented by the University of MN Extension and 4-H
  2. Fall Phenology presented by the Dakota County Parks
  3. Prairie presented by the National Parks Service 
  4. Soils presented by the Natural Resources Conservation Service
  5. Water presented by the SWCD 

For more information about the different education stations, please check out the Outdoor Education Days Virtual Tour!

Mount Calvary Lutheran Church Raingarden

Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Eagan has a congregation that prides itself on seeking opportunities to be good stewards of our land and water resources. Pastor Tom Jenkins and his wife Stacy signed up for the Dakota SWCD’s Landscaping for Clean Water program in 2015 and installed a raingarden at their house. This spurred the Church to seek out a project of their own in order to clean the stormwater that comes from the Church parking lot and driveway.  

After months of planning, project design, and securing a Conservation Initiative Funding grant through the Dakota SWCD, the Church now has a nearly 500 square foot raingarden installed at their exit drive off of Rahn Road. This raingarden will reduce pollutants and stormwater volume discharge to the Minnesota River and recharge groundwater aquifers. The project utilizes MN Clean Water Land and Legacy dollars and is a collaboration between the MN Board of Water and Soil Resources, Dakota County SWCD, the City of Eagan, and Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church congregation members. 
The “before” photo showing the future location of the raingarden, which will capture, clean, and help infiltrate stormwater flowing from 1.3 acres of the property. 
Dakota SWCD staff member Curt Coudron verifies depths of the basin, which was excavated and then filled with an engineered soil mix of 70% sand and 30% compost. 
A retaining wall holds back the soil in the raingarden and the soils are shaped to create a berm around the raingarden.  
Members of the Church congregation volunteer to help plant the raingarden full with native and cultivated plant varieties.  
Completed raingarden with a trench drain in the driveway to intercept water and direct it to the basin.
The Dakota SWCD partners with Churches and Homeowner Associations all across Dakota County to implement conservation and stormwater management projects such as this raingarden. The Dakota SWCD also offers site analysis, project design assistance, and potential financial assistance to install the project.

Contact Joe Barten with the Dakota SWCD today at (651) 480-7784 to schedule a site analysis and see how we can help you improve the quality of our lakes and streams!

Dakota SWCD welcomes new Resource Conservationist

The Dakota County SWCD welcomes John Stelzner as our new Resource Conservationist! John joins the SWCD from Prairie Restorations, Inc. where he was a project manager working with contractors, private landowners and governments to restore native landscapes. Prior to working for Prairie Restorations, John was a program manager with the Conservation Corps of Minnesota where he trained and supervised AmeriCorps members (18-25 year olds) in natural resource restorations and environmental education.
John will be responsible for ecological restorations including native prairie, woodland and wetland projects. He will lead the State buffer initiative, develop seeding and maintenance plans for construction projects, assist with our Landscaping for Clean Water workshops and project installs, and provide support to State and County easement programs. John has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota – He was raised in South St. Paul and currently resides in Zumbrota.
Please join us in welcoming John to the SWCD!

Trout Brook Streambank Stabilization Project Completed

180 feet of eroding streambank has been stabilized on Trout Brook in the Miesville Ravine Regional Park just south of Miesville. This section of the streambank was damaged during the heavy rains in the summer of 2012 and has continued to erode toward an existing public parking area.
Dakota County staff installed tree root balls and woody material at the stream edge to prevent further erosion and provide trout habitat. The upper bank was stabilized using soil wrapped in coconut fabric, a technique commonly referred to as “soil burritos” (as shown in the photo to the right).
The streambank and adjacent upland areas were seeded with deep-rooted native grasses and flowers which will help prevent erosion and provide pollinator habitat. The project will prevent sediment from impacting downstream areas and will provide instream and riparian habitat.  

The stabilization project was a collaboration between Dakota County and the Dakota County SWCD. Project funding was provided through a 2012 Legislative appropriation and the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources Flood Relief Cost Share Disaster Recovery Program.

Erosion Control – Landowner assistance

Since 1944, the Dakota County SWCD has provided landowner assistance to evaluate erosion problems on private and public lands. Many erosion problems require grading the eroded areas and reseeding to a permanent grass cover. Larger gullies and rills often require plans that are prepared by a trained technician under the guidance of an engineer.  

The SWCD offers this assistance to landowners who are willing to install practices to design specifications. Landowners may be eligible for cost-share in order to install the projects. If funding is provided for the project, the landowner would be required to install the project to meet design specifications and follow an operation and maintenance plan for 10 years.

If you have an erosion problem or have questions about the funding process, please contact the Dakota County SWCD at (651) 480-7777. 

Agricultural Best Management Practices Loan Program

The Dakota County SWCD is currently accepting application for the Agricultural Best Management Practices (AgBMP) Loan Program.  

The AgBMP Loan Program provides low interest loans to farmers, rural landowners, and agriculture supply businesses. The purpose is to encourage Best Management Practices that prevent or reduce water quality problems. The program provides loans up to $200,000 for up to 10 years, with 3% financing. The loan can be used with state and federal cost share programs and with grants.

Low Interest loan application will be accepted for: 
•    Agricultural Animal Waste Storage Systems
•    Animal Manure Application Equipment
•    Conservation Tillage Equipment.
•    Erosion Control Practices
•    Variable Rate Fertilizer Technology
•    Replacement Septic Systems
•    Irrigation Water Management Variable Rate Technology

Soil Health

To ensure that you are healthy, you would go to the doctor for a checkup. Unfortunately, there is no doctor to ensure that your soil is healthy. Check out the tools available on the Dakota County SWCD's website to help determine the health of your soil. 
Copyright © 2016 Dakota County Soil & Water Conservation District, All rights reserved.

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