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The Stevens County Times 

Saturday, February 16, 2019 C1

STEVENS SOIL & WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT 2018 ANNUAL REVIEW A supplement to the February 16, 2019, Stevens County Times

Stevens SWCD Services • Conservation planning • Mowing & spot spraying for weed control • Native grass & buffer seeding • Rain garden design & installation • Shoreline protection planning & installation • Tree planting & fabric installation OFFICE HOURS: Monday thru Friday 8:00-4:30-p.m. Regular Stevens SWCD board meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month, at 9:30 a.m., at the SWCD office. These meetings are open to the public. Located in the USDA Agricultural Service Center 12 Highway 28 East – Suite 2, Morris, MN 56267 (320) – 589-4886 ext. 4

The mission of Stevens Soil and Water Conservation District is to work with county landowners in putting conservation practices on the land and to help all citizens be good stewards of our natural resources.

Like us on Facebook - Stevens Soil and Water Conservation District

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Visit us @ www.stevensswcd.org


Stevens SWCD 2018 Annual Review

C2 Saturday, February 16, 2019 

The Stevens County Times

Completed tree planting showing tree tubes on large deciduous rows.

Planting trees still one of our most popular programs Stevens SWCD planted 21 windbreak/conservation plantings in 2018. Over those 21 sites, 27,440 feet of weed-barrier fabric was installed to control weed competition and conserve moisture. Through those plantings and our tree ordering program, we were able to add over 8,000 trees throughout the county. There was some cost-share available on some of the projects through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Here are some general tips to consider when looking at planting trees for conservation purposes. Site preparation is most important to making a tree planting a success. We offer to do light tilling if needed to help loosen the soil and help make sure the fabric edges are completely buried. If the edges don’t get buried when the weed barrier is installed, the wind will lift the fabric up and it won’t protect the trees as it was designed to do. In addition, site prep is especially important when tearing down a depleted grove with the intent to plant new trees. Heavy equipment is needed to remove the trees and work the soil to make sure it is clear of existing trees and stumps. The roots will also need to be removed so that we can run our equipment through the site. This is something that the landowner will need to complete before the planting can happen. Tree selection is an important step in planning for success. Some tree varieties do much better depending on the soil conditions; for example, some trees do better in hydric soils, and some do better in dryer soils and vice-versa. We are available for advice and also have several books to assist

you in making your decision. These books include descriptions and pictures of tree varieties that will help you make sure they meet all your needs. We recommend using multiple varieties within the same row when planting trees. This is done by alternating every other tree with a different variety. The idea behind this is to keep disease or insects from killing a whole row of trees. If a disease or insects affects one species of tree, you will not be starting all over without any protection at all. Good tree care early on is vital to tree survival. Mulch fabric and tree tubes are recommended on most sites. The trees perform much better when they have help fighting competition from weeds, weather and animals in their first growing years. The fabric is put into place around the trees to reduce the competition of weeds or volunteer trees and to conserve moisture. The tree tubes should be put on all the large deciduous trees, especially where animals are likely to be feeding on them. Animals will feed on the bark or new buds, which will kill or hinder tree growth. Watering trees is essential the first year of the planting, especially during hot dry periods. Trees that are watered periodically and free of weed competition have much better growth and overall performance. Stevens SWCD is currently taking tree orders for the 2019 planting season. This includes planning and planting plans for conservation, as well as small orders for trees that need to be replaced. The order deadline is March 15, so call now to see what trees we have available, and to find out if you are eligible to receive financial assistance on your project. For more information, contact John at (320)-589-4886 ext. 4.

Steve, Wanda and Levi Howe receive their 2018 Outstanding Conservationist award at the Minnesota Association of Conservation Districts Convention in Bloomington. Paula Mohr of the Farmer magazine presented the award.

Howes chosen as 2018 SWCD Outstanding Conservationists

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ongratulations to Steve and Wanda Howe of Chokio for being selected as Stevens County’s Outstanding Conservationists for 2018. Steve and Wanda, who have five children, have been part of his family farm for over 28 years. His dad, Richard, started farming near Chokio in Baker and Stevens Townships in 1953, where his grandpa Gordon farmed prior to that. The family has nearly reached the century farm mark. Steve’s mom Bonnie still lives on the home farm today. His dad was always conservation-minded and continued to plant trees year after year and set aside land for wildlife

In 1997 a dam on Drywood Creek (a major tributary to the Pomme de Terre River) failed, leaving it functionless and pushing the creek towards exposed streambanks, resulting in serious bank failure and erosion issues. Its perpetual source of sediment eroding into the stream was carried directly into the Pomme de Terre River and to its outlet at Marsh Lake, an area known for being turbid from excessive sediment. Over the last four years, the project was sought after by the Pomme De Terre River Association (PDTRA) as a way to eliminate a large source of eroding sediment in the watershed and improve water quality and connectivity of the Artichoke lakes, Drywood Creek, and the Pomme de Terre River. PDTRA secured funds to complete this project through Clean Water Funds and a

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his cattle. Steve was one of the first in the state to set up a grazing plan on a permanent Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) easement. He runs his cow/calf pairs on his WRP acreage using a grazing plan developed under NRCS standards. Grazing an easement area like this creates a light disturbance for wildlife and improves grassland health on his property. Howe has also installed a rain garden in his back yard to divert rain water away from his house and filter the runoff to improve water quality. He also enjoys the added benefits of beauty and increased wildlife and pollinators seen around his yard.

Howe and his brother John were recently certified in Stevens County through the MAWQCP (Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program). Steve has plans for a shelterbelt renovation next year and is always looking for new ways to implement conservation on this farm. The Howes are committed to using their farm for wildlife habitat and as a place where their family can enjoy the outdoors and hunting for years to come. Congratulations on making your farm a conservation legacy in Stevens County!

Pomme de River Association makes water quality progress in 2018

It’s more than busIness . . .

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habitat and for his family to hunt and enjoy. Today Steve and his brother have nearly 500 acres in WRP, CRP and CREP. He has converted his tillable land from corn and beans to alfalfa, implementing Forage and Biomass Planting and Forage Harvest Management plans as part of his participation in the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). These practices are designed to decrease soil erosion and increase soil health by adding a deep-rooted crop to decrease compaction. The land also provides wildlife cover over the winter and he can use the additional forage for

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grant from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. In 2017, the failing structure was removed. The goal of the project was not only to remove the dam but also to improve connectivity between Drywood Creek and its natural floodplain and restore habitat along a 1,050 foot stretch of the stream. In 2018, contractors and engineers worked to re-excavate the historical meandering stream and close off the altered portion of the stream. Along with this, rock weirs were constructed within the historic channel to mimic important habitat features that help sustain native aquatic species as well as provide channel flow control during times of high flow. Lastly, toe wood, soil wraps, and grass seeds were added to the landscape to help re-create a riparian buffer that will help mitigate any further erosion. Over the next few years, we hope to see increasing riparian vegetation and a decrease in sediments contributing to Drywood Creek. Final estimations

Before and after a dam removal and stream restoration project completed on Drywood Creek. of the project design predict a reduction in up to 212.50 tons of sediment per year and 212.5 pounds of phosphorous per year from entering the stream! Along with stream restoration, PDTRA currently has $100,000 in available funds for cost-share on best management practices that help reduce field erosion, stormwater runoff, and protect water quality. For more information, contact your local

Soil and Water Conservation District. PDTRA is a Joint Powers Board made of the six counties and Soil and Water Conservation Districts which are part of the Pomme de Terre Watershed (Swift, Big Stone, Stevens, Grant, Douglas, and Otter Tail). PDTRA works to provide cost share to voluntary landowners looking to implement practices that reduce erosion and runoff.


Stevens SWCD 2018 Annual Review

The Stevens County Times 

Saturday, February 16, 2019 C3

Jenc completes leadership program Stevens SWCD Program Technician, Kasey Jenc, successfully completed a one-year leadership development program sponsored by the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (MASWCD). The 2017-2018 MASWCD Leadership Program brought together 32 participants from across the state to strengthen their leadership capacity for conservation work in Minnesota. The group met for seven multi-day sessions to study and practice leadership topics including: building personal leadership skills, the leader-follower relationship, developing a vision, practicing ethical leadership, strengthening team leadership, facilitation as a leadership skill, and working with stakeholders in public issues. This was the eleventh group to complete the statewide leadership program. More than 225 SWCD staff and supervisors have completed the program since 1996. The 2017-2018 group was comprised of locally elected Soil and Water Conservation District supervisors, local SWCD staff, staff from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, and regional staff from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Kasey Jenc, Stevens SWCD Program Technician, completed a year-long MASWCD Leadership training in 2017-18. She is pictured here with other program participants: front row, third from left.

Celebrating 28 years!

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Aquatic Invasive Species affect Stevens County Stevens SWCD teaches local third graders how to prevent AIS spread

Paul LeTendre, Agent 714 Atlantic Avenue Morris, MN 56267 Bus: 320-589-2323 paul.letendre.ptbl@statefarm.com

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Stevens SWCD continues to endorse the prevention of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) spread in Stevens County and across Minnesota through educational efforts and by asking local citizens to get involved. SWCD staff met with third grade classes in the spring to introduce the topic of aquatic invasive species. Students learned what some AIS look like and where they can be found by participating in games and activities about aquatic plants and animals found in the midwest. At the close of the 2018 boating season, lakeshore owners reported finding zebra mussels on their docks and lifts coming out of Perkins Lake (Lower Pomme de Terre Lake). The reports were confirmed by a DNR invasive species specialist who also confirmed the invasive species at the public water access site between North and Middle Pomme de Terre Lakes in Pomme de Terre River. Following this confirmation, DNR staff posted “Invasive Species Alert” signs at those public water accesses warning boaters and recreators of the zebra mussel infestation. For additional information on aquatic invasive species, please stop into the Stevens SWCD office or visit the MN DNR’s AIS webpage at www. mndnr.gov/ais.

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Stevens SWCD 2018 Annual Review

C4 Saturday, February 16, 2019 

MAWQCP certifies 11 new Stevens County farms in 2018

Hopkins High School won the MN State Envirothon and represented Minnesota at the National Envirothon, held at Idaho State University in July 2018. The team is shown here with Judy Johnston, Minnesota State Envirothon Coordinator and Stevens SWCD Education and Promotion Coordinator.

Johnston attends National Envirothon in Pocatello, Idaho The 2018 National Envirothon was held at Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho in July. Judy Johnston, of Stevens SWCD, is the Minnesota State Envirothon Coordinator and had the chance to attend the national competition with the Minnesota team from Hopkins. This was Johnston’s first time attending the national event and it was an outstanding opportunity to

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The Stevens County Times

AGRICULTURAL COMMERCIAL • RESIDENTIAL

learn more about how the National Envirothon operates, which will be valuable in planning for future Minnesota State Envirothons. Idaho is rich in agriculture and was an ideal location for the 2018 event, as rangeland management was the current issue focus for the year. Johnston had the chance to tour many potato processing plants and visited several ranches

which focused on rangeland rotation and forage management. The sponsors that made it possible for the team and Johnston to attend were: Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Cargill, Smithfield Foods, Minnesota Association of Conservation District Employees, Minnesota Erosion Control Association, and Stevens SWCD.

2018 proved to be a successful year for the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) in Stevens County. Over the past year, Stevens SWCD received nine new applications and certified 11 farms. This brings us to 13 certified farms total on nearly 10,800 acres. Projects and conservation practices initiated with MAWQCP on some of the certified acres in Stevens County include cover crops, water and sediment control basins, water quality inlet protection, field windbreaks, and filter strips. One of the certified producers to take advantage of MDA’s financial assistance available to participants was our own SWCD Board Chairman, Greg Fynboh. “It was an easy process,” said Greg, about applying for the cost-share to plant cover crops on several of his certified fields. He added that the Ag. Water Quality Program is “something people will say, ‘I should have done this a long time ago,’” as the benefits continue to add up, both with financial support and conservation improvements. Within the 12-county west central region, MAWQCP has certified 152 farms including over 84,000 acres, while statewide the program has certified 689 farms on about 450,000 acres. Producers across Minnesota have implemented over 1,300 new conservation practices

that reduce 24,304 tons of sediment, 61,543 tons of soil loss, and 28,521 pounds of phosphorous runoff per year, and reduce nitrogen loss by up to 49% per year. Stevens SWCD is involved with the on-farm assessment process as each program applicant works toward this water quality certification. Please contact Kasey at the Stevens SWCD office for more information about the program and to enroll.

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Stevens SWCD 2018 Annual Review

The Stevens County Times 

Saturday, February 16, 2019 C5

NRCS programs popular in 2018 The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) conservation programs help people reduce soil erosion, enhance water supplies, improve water quality, increase wildlife habitat, and reduce damages caused by floods and other natural disasters. The main financial and technical assistance programs available to help agricultural producers and landowners in Stevens County are the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). CSP is a program that rewards the great conservation management that has been taking place within a producer’s operation and allows for furthering that great management through enhancements that are implemented during the contract. The list of enhancements to choose from is extensive and applies to cropland, hay land, pastureland, rangeland and non-industrial private forestland. Contracts are for five years and have a maximum value of $40,000 annually per individual operator. This is a tremendous opportunity for farmers and ranchers to gain a financial benefit for being a great steward of their land and improving their management strategies on their operation, not to mention the returns gained from being more efficient and sustainable. Some of the activities

to further improve management that are currently being done in Stevens County include GPS guidance for chemical applications, drift reducing nozzles, variable rate fertilizer technology, tissue testing on corn, continuous no-till, cover crops, buffer strips, control release nitrogen applications, split nitrogen applications, pasture monitoring, food plots for wildlife, pollinator habitat and the list goes on. EQIP is a voluntary conservation program from the NRCS. EQIP provides technical assistance, and incentive payments to assist crop, livestock, and other agricultural producers with environmental, conservation and energy improvements to their operations. This assistance is to help landowners implement structural, vegetative, management practices, and Conservation Activity Plans (CAP). Some common practices in Stevens County are cover crops, grassed waterways, water and sediment control basins, terraces, converting irrigation systems to low pressure systems, nutrient management, pest management, no-till, strip-till, closure of waste impoundments, brush management, conservation crop rotation to organic production, seasonal high tunnels, drainage water management, windbreaks/shelterbelts, native prairie seeding, prescribed burning, and rotational grazing systems

Cattle grazing on cover crop seeded after wheat harvest, November 1, 2018. consisting of fence, pipeline, well, water tanks, and pasture seeding. If you have a resource concern on your land, EQIP probably has a practice that may be eligible for financial assistance that could fix your problem. Producer must be signed up in EQIP and be in compliance with all USDA Farm Bill provisions in order to receive financial assistance. In 2018, the USDA Service Center in Morris obligated over 40 conservation contracts, addressing

concerns on nearly 30,000 acres between CSP & EQIP. This resulting in over $925,000 from EQIP and $200,000 from CSP being brought to Stevens County farmers for conservation and stewardship practices. For EQIP, we had a variety of practices completed in 2018. The majority were cover crops and erosion control structures. For CSP, the number one practice continues to be having producers apply fertilizer utilizing Variable Rate Technology in grids

or zones to follow University of Minnesota recommendations. Integrated pest management plans, along with Smart-Sprayer applications, cover crops and Monarch butterfly habitat were also popular in 2018. To date we manage over 75 active conservation contracts, addressing concerns on over 80,000 acres for a value of $5.6 million obligated out of the Morris Field Office. We have a strong application workload again for 2019, with many of

the applications being for annually seeded cover crops, pollinator habitat, and erosion control structures. If you have future plans, contact us soon so we can do good on-site evaluation of the site to address ideas for treating your resource concerns and generate a good plan, so you are not rushing into a project. Funding preference is also given to complete plans. We accept sign-up applications on a continuous basis.

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Morris Area students were coached by MAHS science teacher Dylan Viss. The team members include, left to right: LaRae Kram, Claire Reed, Angel Gallegos, Katie Messner, and Ana Hernandez.

Morris area team ranks well at Area 2 Envirothon Minnesota.” Other areas of testing included: forestry, soils, aquatics, wildlife and grazing lands in Minnesota. Congratulations to this young team and good luck in future competitions! We hope to see them back

in 2019! The Envirothon program is one the largest environmental education competitions in the state. This is a great way to introduce high school students to environmental and natural resources careers.

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The Morris Area High School senior team placed fourth at the Area 2 Envirothon held at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center near Spicer in May. This year, the students prepared oral presentations on “Grazing Lands in

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C6 Saturday, February 16, 2019 

Stevens SWCD 2018 Annual Review

The Stevens County Times

CRP continues to work

Judy Johnston, Education Coordinator at Stevens SWCD, shared with students how to look at macro invertebrates under the microscope.

Pope & Stevens County Water Fest in 13th year On September 14, 2018, over 300 sixth grade students and teachers from Pope and Stevens counties attended the 13th Annual Pope & Stevens County Water Fest. Students from Minnewaska, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa, Morris Area Elementary, St. Mary’s, Hancock, and Glacial Hills attended

this year’s event, which was held at the Pope County Fairgrounds in Glenwood. The students were involved in a day of hands-on learning about the water cycle, rainfall simulators, water conservation, macro invertebrates, and aquatic intruders. They participated in activities called

Bubbleology, Incredible Journey and the Lake Game. The presenters were from various agencies including the Science Museum of Minnesota, Pope & Stevens Soil & Water Conservation Districts, Middle Fork Watershed, MPCA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, North Fork Crow

The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a voluntary program that landowners can sign up for to protect environmentally sensitive land. Conservation cover in the form of grass, forbs, shrubs or trees is planted to help reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, and enhance wildlife habitat. This program can be beneficial to both the landowner and the environment, especially when it comes to problem areas. The FY2019 Continuous CRP signup included both new contracts and re-enrollments on about 1,055 acres. SWCD and NRCS staff worked closely with landowners to plan CRP contract proposals and to revise plans for re-enrollment offers, making sure to consider field operations and

overall function of each CRP site. Many of the new contracts aimed to fulfill requirements of the MN Buffer Law by planning for a filter strip (CP21) adjacent to a watercourse or body of water. The most common practice used in this signup was the filter strip, followed by wetland restoration practices (CP27/28, CP23, CP23a), and duck nesting habitat (CP37). Unfortunately, because of the national CRP acreage cap, there were several practices unavailable for use including tree windbreaks and shelter belts (CP5a, CP16a) as well as SAFE/ pheasant habitat (CP38e). If you have any interest in CRP, we recommend that you stop in or call our office at (320) 5894886 to discuss available opportunities.

River Watershed District, and the Glenwood DNR office. It is truly a fun day of learning about our natural resources. The event is funded by many local businesses of Stevens and Pope counties, along with Agri Cooperative and the comprehensive local water plan of both counties.

Wetland Conservation Act – for Tiling, Mitigating, or Wetland Banking What is the state law? The Minnesota Wetland Conservation Act (WCA) is a state law that regulates the activities that result in the draining, filling, or excavating of wetlands in Minnesota, including those on agricultural land. WCA is administered by local government units; in rural areas this is usually the County Soil and Water Conservation District

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(SWCD). SWCDs also provide technical assistance to landowners. Federal and Minnesota laws were enacted a couple decades ago to address the draining and filling of wetland areas. Both sets of laws rely on the knowledge and actions of landowners to assure compliance with their requirements. It is important for agricultural producers to be aware of these regulations in order to limit their risk. Landowners need to know that just because you’re in compliance with one program doesn’t always mean that you’re in compliance with others. What should you do before you start a project? 1. Complete an “AD1026” form at your local USDA office. 2. Bring a copy of your AD1026 to the WCA

Administrator and explain what you plan to do. If you are interested in tiling, mitigating or putting some previously drained acres into the wetland bank, the WCA Administrator can advise you if your project is allowed under WCA or if you need to submit an application to the local government. Involving the WCA Administrator from the beginning is the easiest and best way to avoid problems. Request a field visit by the WCA administrator. This can help identify regulated wetlands on your property, and regulations that could affect your project. Many wetlands do not contain standing water or are only saturated for part of the year, and can be difficult for landowners to identify. If you need a contractor, make sure they submit a “Contractor Lia-

bility Form”. Contractors who conduct projects that will impact a wetland are required to notify the local government. The Contractor Responsibility and Landowner Statement From is available at www. bwsr.state.mn.us/wetlands/forms and must be mailed to the local government prior to starting work. Communication is the key! Compliance with USDA (Swamp buster) does not mean compliance with other wetland laws. A quick call or stop at your SWCD office prior to beginning your project will help you comply with the laws and save a project from potential additional costs and delays. The WCA contact for Stevens County is Matt Solemsaas, District Administrator at Stevens SWCD. If you have any questions stop by or call (320)589-4886 ext 112.

Student helps SWCD plant trees Tyler Buss is a junior at Morris Area High School. He worked for Stevens SWCD in the summer of 2018 helping our District Technicians with planting trees and mowing. Tyler also worked on grass plantings and rain garden installations. He enjoys the outdoors, hunting, fishing, and his favorite pastime is snowmobiling with family and friends.

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The Stevens County Times 

Stevens SWCD 2018 Annual Review

MN Buffer Law update The Minnesota Buffer Law continued to bring landowners and operators in the door throughout 2018. Current compliance is at 93% for Stevens County with a busy upcoming spring that will hopefully bring that number to 100% by early summer. There are approximately 1,600 parcels that are affected by the MN Buffer Law in Stevens County. Each

parcel brought with it a new conversation and a new approach to achieving compliance. In 2018 we enrolled 52 parcels into CRP to meet the buffer compliance requirements. We also had several landowners who chose to utilize an NRCS program like CSP (Conservation Stewardship Program) or EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program) to enroll

buffer acres. Please note that all parcels affected by the MN Buffer Law are inventoried and are required to receive a compliance review every three years. Compliance reviews will be completed using the most recent aerial imagery and/or field visits to document each parcel’s compliance status. “Mother nature” did us no favors during the fall

r s d . s r r n . m 2 . d n t e d d -

of 2018, much like 2017, which pushed much of the work of establishing buffers into spring 2019. We will hope for a favorable spring and will try to keep the communication lines open to get everything completed. As we’ve emphasized before, a big thanks to everyone who worked with us through this last year to make buffer law implementation move onward.

Solemsaas serves as Stevens County Agricultural Inspector The duty of the Coun- law. A sufficient amount ty Agricultural Inspector of seed is collected and (CAI) is to inspect all land tested each year to ensure in the county for the pres- - F the MORRIS SUN TRIBUNE ARMprotection of the citience of prohibited nox- zens and businesses in the ious weeds. This is done county through truthfully with assistance from local labeled seed and for fair weed inspectors (township competition. and city officials or their The CAI also adminisappointees). ters the pesticide applicaIf you would like to tor’s test for commercial report noxious weeds, applicators. Study materiplease contact your local als can be obtained from township or city official the University of Minneto begin the investigation sota Extension Service in process. the Stevens County CourtAnother duty of the CAI house. Pesticide applicator is to help enforce the seed licenses are issued by the

Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA). Any questions regarding certification can be -directSaturday, March 9, 2013 Page 7C ed to Matt Solemsaas at (320)589-4886 ext 112. When you are ready to schedule the exam: 1. Contact Matt Solemsaas for appointment 2. Fill out application and pay licensing fee either online at the Dept of Ag website or in person the day of testing. What to bring on test day: ► Payment or proof of

eers on pasture, grain or no grain?

payment if application made ahead of time ► Valid photo ID & calculator If you have any questions about noxious weeds in Stevens County, stop by Stevens SWCD or call (320)589-4886 ext 112.

SWCD Staff Proud to Serve All Residential & Commercial Customers 001831714r1

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Saturday, February 16, 2019 C7

may indicate potential it per steer ($593 vs. $442) make a profit from feeding For more information, health benefits of grass- compared to conventional organic dairy steers ver- contact Brad Heins, fed beef. Consumers who steers because of lower sus selling them to conven- Assistant Professor, rated the beef found no sig- feed costs, mainly pasture. tional markets. The most Organic Dairy Managenificant difference for Therefore, a low grain important point for reduc- ment, 320-589-1711 or overall liking for the con- ration may reduce feed ing inputs and increasing hein0106@umn.edu ventional and organic beef. costs without sacrificing profits in organic dairy The organic beef had sig- profit in an organic dairy systems is to produce high nificantly higher flavor lik- system, assuming the quality forages and maxiing than the conventional grass-fed steers can be mize dry matter intake on beef. However, consumers marketed at a premium pasture. rated the grass-only beef price based on the producthe lowest in overall liking tion system. Stevens (back row, l to r): District Administrator Matt Solemsaas, and flavor. SWCD staff include The conventional steers For profitability, grain John had some advantage over Assistant Technician Lembcke, District Technician Adam Erickson. Front row (l to costs were substantially the grass-only steers, and r): Education & Promotion Coordinator Judy Johnston, Office Manager Chris Staebler, higher for the organic the conventional dairy Program Technician steers, and therefore, Kasey steers Jenc. grew much faster resulted in a net loss per and required less time to steer (-$644/steer). The slaughter. However, grasshigher cost of production only steers required fewer for the organic steers is resources than conventiondue to the extremely high al steers. Organic dairy value of organic corn producers trying to seek ($15.90/bushel, January relief from high grain 2013). The grass-only prices, with a little “extra” steers had the highest prof- pasture may be able to

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2018 SWCD Board of Supervisors (back row, l to r): Secretary Dave Lonergan, Vice Chair Troy Goodnough, Chair Greg Fynboh. Front row (l to r): Treasurer Dennis Feuchtenberger, Reporter Debbie Anderson.

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C8 Saturday, February 16, 2019 

Stevens SWCD 2018 Annual Review

2018 SWCD Poster Contest

The Stevens County Times

Stevens SWCD hosts water testing for consumers

Each year, the Stevens Soil & Water Conservation District sponsors a poster contest for fifth and sixth grade students centering on a different conservation-related theme. Judy Johnston from Stevens SWCD visits each class and presents information on the current conservation topic. The 2018 topic was “Watersheds: Our Water, Our Home.” The winners of the poster contest receive a t-shirt and the top six posters or murals advance to a 12-county area competition.

Congratulations to Hancock 5th grade Poster Contest winners (l to r): Gracie Nohl and Kaylee Nohl.

Above: Congratulations to the winners of the Morris Area Schools Poster Contest. Back row (l to r): Talia Kill, Jeslyn Olson, Ruby Swenson, Kaleb Bruer, TJ Kill, Derek Waldbeser, Owen Anderson, Anna Jordan, Amaiya Benson, Grace Dolence. Front row (l to r): Ashley Koehl, Britta Schmidgall, Makenzie Konz, Wyatt Mithun. Not pictured Brian Regalado. Above left: 2018 SWCD Poster Contest winners from Hancock 6th grade were (Back row, l to r): Autumn Hubbard, Aidan Hacker, Noah Luthi, Eva Schaefer, Sydney Zeltwanger, and Mr. Stan is pictured in the back. Front row (l to r): Titus Bjerketvedt and Kallista Banister.

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Putting Conservation On the Land The mission of the Stevens Soil & Water Conservation District is to work with county landowners in putting conservation practices on the land and to help all citizens be good stewards of our natural resources.

These local businesses salute the Stevens Soil and Water Conservation District for providing excellence in conservation.

AgCountry Farm Credit Services 102 South Atlantic Ave., Morris (320) 589-3881 www.agcountry.com

Mohr Plumbing & Heating 46400 East Hwy. 28, Morris (320) 589-1006 www.mohrplumbing.com

CHS 11 West 5th St., Morris (320) 589-1581 www.chs-herman.com

Prairie Trailer 20 Industrial Blvd., Morris (320) 589-1771 www.ptrailer.com

Dental Depot 2 East 5th St., Morris (320) 589-4481 www.dentaldepotmorris.com

Riverview, LLP 26406 470th Ave., Morris (320) 392-5609 www.riverviewllp.com

Lawn & Driveway Service 44725 175th St., Morris (320) 760-9112

Stevens County Times 607 Pacific Ave., Morris (320) 589-2525 www.stevenscountytimes.com

West Central Environmental Consultants 14 Green River Road, Morris (320) 589-2039 www.wcec.com

Left: St Mary’s School SWCD Poster Contest winners for 2018 were (Back row, l to r): Maggie Beaver, Sage Barnstuble, and Ava Kirwin. Front row (l to r): Vylet Frank, Angela Albrecht, Quincy Mundal and Campbell Sleiter. This year’s theme was “Watersheds: Or Water, Our Home” and they did a great job on their entries.

New at Stevens SWCD: Stevens SWCD has partnered with RMB Environmental Laboratories to provide a convenient and reliable way to test your water. Pick up an easy to use water testing kit today to ensure your water is safe from bacteria, nitrates, arsenic, lead, fluoride & secondary contaminants. It’s never been easier to test your water. Kits can be picked up five days a week at the Stevens SWCD office.

Complete instructions for taking samples are included in the kit. Simply return samples to Stevens SWCD Tuesday or Thursday before 12 pm, and RMB will pick them up to be tested. There is no hassle to ship. Several testing kits are available depending on which tests you would like done. The average cost of testing your water sample is $12$27. If you’re not sure what to test for, call RMB at 1-888-200-5770.

Minnesota Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (MN CREP) In 2018 there was an increased interest in CREP easements in Minnesota largely due to the program incentives that were introduced in 2017. Stevens County received one new application and produced several proposals for interested landowners. The permanent commitment of CREP and programs like it has always justifiably been a cause for concern to some landowners. The upside landowners should also consider is the fact that this commitment provides

opportunity for them to retire unproductive land while providing valuable habitat improvements and still receive competitive compensation for the acres enrolled into the program. Questions or estimates come without obligation, and the potential opportunity that a CREP easement provides may surprise you. Contact Adam at the SWCD office to find out more. Additional information and updates on CREP can be found at www.bwsr.state.mn.us/ crep.

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The Stevens County Times 

Stevens SWCD 2018 Annual Review

Saturday, February 16, 2019 C9

RIM/WRP wetland restorations completed in 2018 In the fall of 2018, we completed several wetland restorations as part of a Reinvest in Minnesota/Wetland Reserve Program (RIM/WRP) easement located in southern Stevens County. These restored wetland areas will provide several benefits to wildlife and water quality through establishment of diverse native habitat, water retention and subsequent water quality

improvements. This project will restore approximately 10 acres of wetland which will be predominantly surface fed by the surrounding landscape with an approximate watershed of 140 acres. This site allowed for restoration of six wetland basins, four of which will form one larger wetland complex under peak inundation. Restoration was accomplished through private tile breaks, sediment

removal, and a water control structure on the main outlet. Wetland restorations are designed to create the best quality wetland habitat within limitations such as landscape position, watershed size, as well as adjacent property considerations. Once inundated this spring, the wetland ecology cycle will begin to restore wetlands natural function over the next several years.

Morris Area 4th grade students learn about tracking wolves in the wild

Mowing Canada Thistle in Stevens County.

Weed control always a challenge Stevens SWCD was able to mow over 700 acres in 2018. There were some challenges to get these completed with the wet spring and trying to avoid running down crops to get to out to where we needed to mow once it dried up. Mowing is done to control the spread of invasive weeds and voluntary trees. In order to establish a good stand of grass, it is essential to mow new plantings the first one to three years. Many times, an area must be mowed twice the first year depending on the time it was planted and the amount of weed competition. The weeds provide a thick canopy over the grasses that restricts them from needed sunlight and moisture, which are critical in the early stages of building a root base. Spot mowings or clippings are done after the stand is established, for mid-contract maintenance to control invasive weeds or voluntary trees. These sites should

be clipped from eight to 12 an area clipped or sprayed inches high. This is done in the future. with hope of eradicating any unwanted weeds or trees. Probably our biggest problem with invasive weeds in our area is Canada Thistle. Clipping of any invasive weed should be done before the weed goes to seed. If done at the right time, this can be an effective way of controlling these weeds. Many of the conservation contracts do not allow the growth of trees on the site. These trees can be clipped when they are small to prevent having to go in later with large machinery to remove them. If the trees are too large, it is very expensive to remove them. Stevens SWCD is also set up to do small spot sprayings, and in 2018, we were able to spray for Canada Thistle, volunteer trees, and Wild Parsnip. Please Contact Matt or John at Stevens SWCD, (320) 589-4886 ext. 4, if you have any questions or are interested in having a

As part of an in-school presentation by the Audubon Center of the North Woods, students from Morris Area Elementary listen and learn about the use of telemetry equipment used in tracking wolves in the wild. Students then had the chance to go outside the building and try using the equipment.


C10 Saturday, February 16, 2019 

Stevens SWCD 2018 Annual Review

The Stevens County Times

Rain gardens add beauty, water quality benefits to landscapes Rain gardens are becoming very popular throughout Stevens County. We have been lucky enough to construct gardens in urban and rural areas of the county. Many of you probably have seen these gardens, have a garden or know someone that has a garden. A rain garden is a garden planted with colorful perennial plants that is designed to capture runoff from rain that would be normally lost or sent down the sewer and eventually to the river. It is a shallow depression in the landscape that has a gradual slope. It is planted with native wetland or wet prairie wildflowers and grasses. Rain gardens are designed

to capture and filter runoff from impervious areas such as roofs, parking lots, driveways, and sidewalks. Plants that can withstand more moisture are planted in the bottom of the garden, and the other plants are planted on the side of the slope. The garden is designed to hold standing water for no more than a 24-hour period. These gardens can be large or small depending on the amount of runoff captured. Construction of rain gardens can be very labor intensive. The initial step is to design the garden. When designing the garden, you must take into consideration the amount of runoff that the garden is going

to collect to determine the size of the garden. The next step would be stripping the sod and tilling the garden so that the gardens basin can be shaped. The goal of the shaping process is to construct a basin, up to 12 inches deep, in the middle of the garden to hold some moisture and then build a gradual slope up to edges of the garden. After the garden is shaped, you must plant the plants so that the wetter plants, those that can take more moisture, are at the bottom of the basin. Working your way up the slope of the garden, you put the moderately wet plants, and at the top you put the plants that don’t need much moisture. When

planting is complete, the area is typically filled with a thick layer of hardwood mulch to hold moisture and keep the weeds to a minimum. The final part of the garden is to place a decorative edge around the outside. This is usually accomplished by using landscape pavers. The pavers are put into place for decoration and to also keep a nice edge so that grass will not creep into the garden. In 2018 Stevens SWCD completed four rain gardens within the county. These projects are costshared up to 75% through grants like clean water funds, state cost-share, and district capacity funds. In 2018, Stevens SWCD was

Planted garden with rock river. able pay $5737 towards these projects. This is cost effective way for landowners to do their part in water quality and beautify their landscape at the same time. We are currently taking signups for projects to be completed the summer of

2019. We have a list started so please stop in so we can appropriate funds for your project. Please contact John or Matt at Stevens SWCD, (320)-589-4886 ext 4, if you have any questions or would be interested in a rain garden of your own.

Students get outside classroom to learn about conservation Over 300 fifth grade students and teachers enjoyed a day in the outdoors during the Stevens & Pope Conservation Day on Tuesday, September 25, 2018. Students from all schools in Pope and Stevens counties were invited to learn about conservation and the environment at Scandia Woods Environmental Learning Lab (SWELL), just east of Morris. This was our twelfth year hosting the event. The hands-on inter-

active learning sessions included a feature presentation called “Raptors,” presented by the Audubon Center of the North Woods. The students had a chance to meet live raptors and learn about their characteristics & habitats. The raptors included a red hawk, screech owl, great horned owl, and an American kestrel. Other sessions included Mammals, Mirrors of Minnesota, Soils, Wetlands, Waterfowl, Deadly Links, Prairie

Wildlife, Nature’s Stock Market, Geocaching, and Orienteering. The day also included another Audubon Center presentation on “Reptiles and Amphibians,” which was a huge hit with the students. The program was coordinated by Judy Johnston of Stevens SWCD. Our presenters and volunteers that day were staff from Stevens and Pope SWCDs, USDA-ARS Soils Lab, North Fork Crow River Watershed, NRCS

partners, US Fish and Wildlife, Audubon Center of the North Woods, and SWELL Coordinator Randee Hokanson. Special thanks to our many sponsors in Stevens and Pope counties who have been making special days like this possible for many years. In addition, special thanks to the SWCD staff of Stevens and Pope counties and to our session presenters and volunteers, as well as SWELL landowners Linda

Stevens SWCD Program Technician Kasey Jenc presents the Wetland station at the 2018 Conservation Day at SWELL. She included a demonstration on how wetlands work to improve water quality and reduce flooding. & Karl Retzlaff, for mak- event for our fifth grade ing this an outstanding students!

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Profile for Stevens County Times

Stevens SWCD 2018 Annual Report  

A summary of programs and activities of the Stevens Soil & Water Conservation District of Morris, Minnesota.

Stevens SWCD 2018 Annual Report  

A summary of programs and activities of the Stevens Soil & Water Conservation District of Morris, Minnesota.

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