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Landscaping for Clean Water - 2016 Wrap Up

2016 was another successful year for the Landscaping for Clean Water Program! Over 270 people attended one of 10 introduction classes beginning in late February through the end of May across Dakota County and 125 people participated in the two night Design Workshops where they learned to design and select plants for a native garden, raingarden, or shoreline at their home!

Raingardens for Water Quality and Pollinator Habitat

Interview with a Landscaping for Clean Water Raingardener

Tom Herberg saw a notice this spring in the Apple Valley newspaper about Landscaping for Clean Water classes that piqued his interest. He already had a small native garden in his front yard, with plants suited to the climactic and soil conditions of the area which provide habitat and nectar for bees and butterflies. Wanting to expand that project, he signed up for the classes to learn how to install a raingarden. Raingardens not only provided pollinator benefits, but can also take the water from his roof and water those plants while recharging groundwater aquifers and reducing pollution entering the storm sewer. 

Fast forward three months and Tom has finished installing his raingarden! 
After attending the Landscaping for Clean Water introduction and design classes (where he learned about the benefits, design, and construction of raingardens), Tom was provided with the knowledge and tools (and some at home assistance from the Dakota County SWCD staff) to begin installation of his raingarden. “The classes were very interesting, informative, and inspiring,” Tom said, adding that the process of planning the garden with his wife was especially rewarding.
Tom received a $250 grant to install the raingarden as well as technical assistance from the Dakota County SWCD. Their staff visited his property before, during, and after the project to walk through the installation process and answer any questions regarding construction of the raingarden.  

“A rain garden project may look and sound overwhelming, but the folks at Dakota County SWCD made it relatively easy,” Tom said.
The garden looks great and Tom is looking forward to seeing the plants mature in the coming years!

For more information on the Landscaping for Clean Water program and available grants to install your own raingarden, native garden, or native shoreline planting, contact the Dakota County SWCD at (651) 480-7777. 

High Rural Contract Compliance

Conservation practices continue to provide great environmental benefits

Every year Dakota County SWCD assists numerous landowners with the implementation of conservation practices. This typically involves both technical and financial assistance. Public funds are used to partially fund these conservation practices; therefore we are committed to making sure that these practices continue to provide environmental benefits. 

This year, Dakota County SWCD inspected a total of 78 rural lands conservation practices. The practices included grassed waterways, water and sediment control basins, filter strips, feedlot improvements, streambank restorations and pond structures. The practices receive a rating of Excellent, Good, Fair or Poor. Any project rated Fair or Poor requires some form of repair or maintenance. This year, 87% of the projects were still effectively providing pollution reduction benefits, meaning that only 13% of projects required follow-up. Furthermore, SWCD staff worked with the landowners on the projects that required repairs or maintenance, and these projects are now back to their fully functioning condition.

Annual inspections not only ensure the longevity of the conservation practice, but it also provides an opportunity for SWCD staff to check in with landowners. Dakota County SWCD has a long history of working with landowners, and they want to maintain this relationship. It is quite common for an annual inspection to lead to discussions and planning of new conservation practices. 

Please contact the Dakota County SWCD at (651) 480-7777 if you have any questions about the inspection process or are interested in learning more about different conservation practices.

Citizen Stream Monitoring Program

The Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District is partnering with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), the Vermillion River Watershed Joint Powers Organization and the North Cannon River Watershed Management Organization to engage local community members in monitoring both the Vermillion River and North Cannon River watersheds!
Volunteers participating in the Citizen Stream Monitoring Program will be asked to visit their stream monitoring site once per week to monitor water transparency (using a Secchi tube), as well water level and appearance. Data will be submitted to the MPCA and used to assess the water quality of rivers and streams in Minnesota.
For more information about how you can become involved with the Citizen Stream Monitoring Program, please contact Lindsey Albright at (651) 480-7783.

Dakota County Fair August 8th - 14th 

SWCD will once again offer tours of the prairie located on the Dakota County Fairgrounds.

Tours will be Monday-Friday from 11am-Noon.

The  trolley will pick you up at and return you to the Conservation Building at the end of your tour.

The tour will include information on the history of the prairie and wetland restoration, how it is managed, and the variety of plant and animal species that call this prairie home.

SWCD Virtual
Conservation Tour

The SWCD has published a new online Annual Conservation Tour featuring conservation projects installed by the District in 2015. 

The 2015 Tour highlights ten different projects from across Dakota County illustrating such conservation practices as grassed waterways, residential raingardens, shoreline restorations, and community storm water management. 

The Virtual Tour is updated annually to showcase the variety of conservation projects.To view the Virtual Conservation Tour, visit and click the link at the bottom.

Dakota SWCD hosts summer apprentice 

Dakota SWCD is happy to welcome Ben Datres to the district for a summer-long apprenticeship position. He will work alongside our staff on a wide range of projects in both the urban and agricultural areas with a focus on Landscaping for Clean Water and water monitoring programs. Ben was hired through the Conservation Apprenticeship Academy, a program of Conservation Corps Minnesota that has placed 31 apprentices in SWCDs throughout Minnesota to learn hands-on skills in managing soil and water resources.

Ben grew up in Burnsville, MN. He graduated from the University of Minnesota Crookston this past December with a Bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources Management and Water Resources. Ben is interested in pursuing a career within the Water Resources field. Past seasonal work experience includes working for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on a prescribed burn crew, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency monitoring water quality on lakes and streams, U.S. Forest Service and Dakota County Parks. In his free time Ben enjoys fishing, mountain biking, and being outdoors.

The program is funded through the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resource Trust Fund and LCCMR. For more information about the Minnesota Conservation Corps, please check out their website!
Copyright © 2016 Dakota County Soil & Water Conservation District, All rights reserved.

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