Thank You for Helping Us Celebrate, A+ Performance Review, Clanton Family Receives Award, 1,000 Students Participate in Outdoor Ed. Days, Going Under Cover, Thinking Ahead, Clearing Up a Murky Situation, Meet Kayla
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In This Issue
BSWR--Pronounced "Bowzer"
Yes, for those of you old enough to remember, just like Jon "Bowzer" Bauman (above) from Sha Na Na
Award Winner Chuck Clanton (left) shaking hands with Board Chair, Joe Meyers (right)
“The Clanton’s are a great example of installing conservation practices both with long-term and short-term benefits to our soil and water resources,” said Brian Watson, Manager at the DCSWCD.  “The Clanton’s have shown the willingness to look at new ideas, research the possibilities and apply knowledge on the land with a conservation approach.”
Outdoor Education Days Story Map
Basins reduce erosion by releasing runoff slowly
Picture: Turbid Waters--Study Seeks to Clear Up Murky Waters Such as These
Kayla Horan, Program Assistant  Graduated from U of M-Duluth
Major: Sociology, Minor: Environment and Sustainability

Thank You for Helping Us Celebrate 70 Years!

A special thanks to the scores of people who helped us celebrate 70 years of service at our open house on August 22, 2014. Missed the fun? That's OK, you can still view the historical slideshow.

A+ Performance Review

From the Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources (BWSR)

In September, the Dakota County SWCD's performance was evaluated by the state agency, Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources, known commonly as "BWSR" (pronounced "Bowzer--think Sha Na Na). We are thrilled to report that not only did we meet the 12 basic standards, we also achieved all 15 benchmark standards. Benchmark standards indicate exceeding expectations. The report states, “the analysis of compliance with BWSR performance standards shows the district to be exemplary in every area of its operations.”
The performance review also evaluated the strategic plan, which contains five main goals each with five strategies to achieve them.  A suggestion for the 2015 Strategic Plan was to include more measurable outcomes. The public education Blue Thumb-Planting for Clean Water® program and flood relief as great successes were considered the district's greatest successes, while the outreach and education efforts has room for development. There was also positive feedback from partner organizations for communication, quality of work, relationships with customers, and timelines. 

We are proud of our achievements and are continually striving for improvement and doing even more public good. We would like to extend thanks to the public for support.

Clanton Family Receives Award for Outstanding Conservation Efforts

Chuck and Cynthia, along with their children Katy and Dan, have been selected by the Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District (DCSWCD) to receive the 2014 Outstanding Conservationists Award for their dedication to conservation. Over the past 27 years the Clanton family has installed an array of practices that reduce soil erosion and nutrient loss and protect groundwater and surface waters on their farm.

As a faculty member of the University of Minnesota Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering Department, Chuck Clanton practices what he teaches (and researches.) The Clanton’s use their farm as demonstration tool to ecological and engineering students on various conservation practices and general farming operations; most students do not have an agricultural background.
The Clanton’s projects are too numerous to list individually, but include everything from a field windbreaks (with over 800 trees and shrubs planted,) no-till practices to promote stable and healthy soil, installing nearly two miles of grassed waterways to accommodate surface water runoff during high water events, and diversifying crop production which helps to mitigate pests and naturally replenish nitrogen.  Chuck also has served as Chair of the Planning Commission for the Vermillion River Watershed Joint Powers Board and stays involved in local watershed issues.
Each year the Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District honors a landowner, business, or organization for their contributions to conserve or restore natural resources in Dakota County.  The DCSWCD commends the Clanton family for their dedication to conservation. The Clanton’s will also be recognized for their dedication to conservation on December 8-9, 2014 at the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts Convention.   

1,000 Students Participate in Outdoor Education Days 

Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District held its annual Outdoor Education Days event at the 210 acre restored prairie on the Dakota County Fairgrounds in Farmington in September. Approximately 1,000 5th grade students, teachers, and chaperones from eight local elementary schools participated in the 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) Birding with the MN Ornithologists Union or Fall Phenology with Dakota County Parks, 3) Prairie with the National Parks Service, 4) Soils with NRCS or Dakota County Water Resources, and 5) Water with the SWCD.  For more information view a virtual tour online.

Going Under Cover--Cover Crops Benefit Dakota Farmland

The Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District is working with agricultural producers to increase the use of cover crops on our most vulnerable soils. Dakota County has highly productive farmland, but , several factors potentially threaten its long-term health as well as the quality of nearby waters. Our soils can be susceptible to erosion, compaction, drainage problems and potentially harming groundwater due to shallow depth to bedrock. One of the most effective tools we have for addressing all of these issues is the use of cover crops.

A “cover crop” is a crop that is planted between main crops. In an area like Dakota County that has thousands of acres of short-season specialty crops such as peas, sweet corn and potatoes, cover crops can be especially useful in protecting the soil from erosion after harvest, through winter and into the next planting season. Common cover crops in Dakota County include various mixtures of oats, rye, wheat, and radishes. These crops are relatively inexpensive, emerge quickly, compete with weeds and tolerate wide climatic conditions.

The overall benefits of cover crops include:
  • Reduced soil and wind erosion.
  • Improved soil health, including increased organic matter, increased infiltration and reduced compaction.
  • Reduced weed and pest issues.
  • Increased nutrient utilization and reduced pollutant runoff susceptibility.
For more information, please contact Todd Matzke or Brad Becker.

Thinking Ahead: Water and Sediment Control Basins Installed

Heavy snow and rain have increased the amount of flooding throughout Dakota County in recent years. While the weather cannot be changed, there are things that can be done on the land to reduce the erosion caused by these extreme weather events.

This summer, two water and sediment control basins were installed in an eroded farm field in Castle Rock Township at the very top of the South Branch of the Vermillion River Watershed. The basins not only significantly reduce gully erosion, they also hold and slowly release runoff, reducing flooding pressure on the South Branch of the Vermillion River nearly 4.5 miles downstream.

The project was installed with funding from the landowner, the USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service, and state flood relief grant from the Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources.

Clearing Up A Murky Situation: New Vermillion Turbidity Study

New research will be collected to determine sources of turbid water on the South Branch of the Vermillion River Watershed. Turbidity measures how clear the water is and relates to the overall quality of a stream or river. Less turbid water is ideal and associated with clearer water. Murky water, due to debris or silt, can absorb additional heat from the sun making the temperature of the water increase.  This can interrupt the growth and breathing of aquatic plants and animals. 

We anticipate finding the sources of the most turbid water by sampling over 15 sites from Farmington to Hastings.  When the locations and causes are determined, we can take steps to find a solution.

Meet Our New Staff Member

We are pleased to welcome Kayla Horan aboard to the Soil and Water Conservation District as a Program Assistant. Horan will be assisting with technical, administrative and educational activities.  She has a unique major and minor pairing of sociology, and environment and sustainability from U of M – Duluth.  Horan began here as our summer apprentice and will apply those skills to continue assisting landowners with conservation practices and conducting water monitoring tasks. She enjoys working outdoors, as well as traveling and trying new foods.
Copyright © 2014 Dakota County Soil & Water Conservation District, All rights reserved.

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