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Stevens Soil & Water Conservation District

2013 Annual Review A supplement to the March 1, 2014 Morris Sun Tribune CONSERVATION PROJECTS

Rain Garden

Shoreline Protection

Wetland Restoration

SERVICES Native Grass Planting Fields & Tree Rows


Tree Planting

Fabric Installation

EDUCATION/OUTREACH Conservation Bus Tour

Wonder of Wolves for 4th Grade

Soil Station at Conservation Day

Office Hours: Monday thru Friday 7:30 a.m. to 4 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. 3 Visit at: www.stevenssVisitus


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Morris, Minnesota 56267

2013 Local Water Plan Program Report The Stevens County Local Water Management Plan funds several projects that are administered or coordinated by the Stevens SWCD Office, or the Stevens County Environmental Services Office. In 2013, a total of $18,790 was allocated towards water plan activities. Here is a brief summary of work that was completed using this funding. Additional funds may be spent through the end of the grant period, which is June 30, 2014. The Coordinator position at the Scandia Woods Environmental Learning Lab is funded by the water plan. The Coordinator receives a total of $3000 from the water plan, in addition to $2000 in other

funding, to conduct classes and educational offerings for students in Stevens County. Ranger Randee, SWELL Coordinator, taught multiple spring and fall lessons for elementary students. She has also developed different lesson plans for teachers to use during self-directed tours at SWELL. The dugout replica that was planned for last season will take place this year due to the summer storms last year. Cost share of $300 or 50 percent per well was provided to three landowners to help defray the cost of sealing existing wells, for a total of $900. Cost share of $500 was paid to a landowner who upgraded an existing septic system.

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Two educational programs, Whale in the Classro o m a n d Wo n d e r o f Wolves, were presented to Stevens County students early in the year, and coordinated by Stevens SWCD staff. A total of $2000 was spent on presenting and coordinating these programs. $500 was allocated towards the Area 2 Junior and Senior Envirothons. Each year the Area 2 Soil and Water Conservation Districts work together to organize a regional environmental competition for high school students. Funding was obtained from area SWCDs, local water plans, and other outside donors. Judy Johnston, Stevens SWCD Education Coordinator, has been the coordinator of this event for several years. Stevens SWCD coordinated a nitrate testing clinic with the Morris Area HS Environmental Science Class, for which $500 was used to cover staff time involved. $700 was allocated for

the Pope & Stevens County Water Fest. The staff from the Stevens and Pope SWCDs organized this event. Over 250 sixth grade students from both counties attended the 9th annual event. The program is very well-received by the schools because of the opportunity to get outside the classroom and learn hands-on about the water cycle, water conservation, water hop scotch, nitrate testing, lakeshore habitat, and ground water. To help make the event a success, several other public and private organizations provided donations to the project. The feature presentation was given by the Science Museum of Minnesota. $900 was allocated to the Pope & Stevens County Conservation Day. Staff from Stevens & Pope SWCDs organized this event as well. This program was offered to 5th grade students in those counties. 200 students attended this year’s event. The event was held at SWELL near Morris. Stu-

dents moved between various outdoor learning stations with topics including: Raptors, Mammals, Reptiles, Soils, Waterfowl, Wetlands, Mirrors of Minnesota, Prairie Wildlife, Nature’s Stockmarket, and Orienteering. Stevens SWCD employs a Farm Bill Technician, whose job is to recruit and assist landowners enrolling land into the various continuous CRP farm programs that focus on water quality. The majority of funding for this position is obtained through the BWSR and Pheasants Forever. These organizations require a partial local match as well. Local funds come from Stevens SWCD, $2000 from the water plan, and local watershed districts. $1750 is paid to Stevens SWCD to fund a small portion of the cost of the State Envirothon Coordinator position. Judy Johnston , Education/ Outreach Coordinator at Stevens SWCD will continue as the State Envirothon coordinator. She

will be spending approximately 25% of her time working on these duties as they relate to the Envirothon around the state. Administrative expenses of $3640, including staff time, travel, meeting expenses, advertising and office supplies. In 2014, Stevens County will begin the required process of periodically re-writing the water plan. The existing plan is in effect until June 30, 2015 at which time a new plan will be approved for the next 10-year period. The committee reviewing the plan includes SWCD staff and one supervisor, Stevens County Environmental Services coordinator, one Stevens County commissioner, the BWSR Board Conservationist for this area, the Pomme de Terre Watershed Coordinator, and representatives from NRC S, DNR and MPCA.

Unlock your farm’s potential Healthy, fully functioning soil provides an environment that sustains and nourishes plants, soil microbes and beneficial insects. Managing for soil health is one of the easiest and most effective ways for farmers to increase crop productivity and profitability while improving the environment. Some results are often realized immediately, and last well into the future. Depending on the current soil health status of your field, it may take a few years for the soil health to noticeably change. It will take time, patience and dedication. Using these four basic principles is the ke y t o i m p ro v i n g t h e health of your soil: 1. Keep the soil covered as much as possible 2. Disturb the soil as lit-

tle as possible 3. Keep plants growing throughout the year to feed the soil

Some operations will benefit from just one soil health practice while others may require additional

4. Diversify as much as possible using crop rotation and cover crops

practices for maximum benefit. Some core practices that form a basis for

a soil health management system that can help you optimize your inputs, protect against drought, and increase production are conservation crop rotation, utilizing cover crops, no-till, nutrient management and pest management. A healthy soil leads to increased production and increased profits by reducing or eliminating tillage. Healthy soils rely less on fertilizer and pesticides and increase natural resource protection. Contact the Stevens County NRCS office at 320-589-4886 to learn more about Soil Health Management Systems and the technical and financial assistance available to help “Unlock the Secrets in the Soil.”

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Morris, Minnesota 56267

Saturday, Saturday, March 1, 2014 - Page 3

Rain Gardens planted in 2013 In 2013 Stevens SWCD completed 13 rain gardens within the Pomme de Terre River watershed. There were approximately 900 plants planted throughout these gardens. These projects were cost-shared up to 75 percent through the Pomme de Terre watershed project. The Pomme de Terre River Association, t h ro u g h C l e a n Wa t e r Funding available, provided $13,979 in cost share towards these 13 gardens. Without the help of this cost share, many of these projects would not have been completed. Construction of rain gardens can be very labor intensive. The initial step is to design the garden. When designing the garden you have to 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 have to 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 also 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. One of the highlighted projects that we completed in 2013 was the construction of two rain gardens at the University of Minnesota Morris campus. They planted 390 plants around the new Green Prairie Residence Hall. We were glad to help with the construction and planting of this project. There was a total of 150

2013 SWCD Supervisors, left to right; Don Huntley Reporter, Jim Krosch Secretary, Chairman Dave Lonergan, George Libbon Treasurer and Vice Chairman Kirby Hufford.

hours of labor put into these two gardens. This residence hall was constructed to maximize green design potential and connection to the prairie ecosystem. Rain gardens a re a h u g e part of this. The gardens w e re c o n structed to collect runoff from the parking lot, sidewalk, and down slopes of hills. They will capture

and filter the runoff, reduce the need for supplemental water, and provide habitat for butterflies, bees, and birds. Without these gardens put into place, thousands of gallons of water a year would drain unfiltered into the sewer and eventually end up in the river system. Stevens SWCD would like thank the University of Minnesota Morris for their help with this project, as well as all the other landowners who took advantage of this great opportunity. Please contact Matt or John at Stevens SWCD, (320)-589-4886 ext 3, if you have any questions or are interested in putting a rain garden on your property.

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Morris, Minnesota 56267

Large CRP wetland restoration completed in 2013 span of about 20 feet of pilings in the middle of the weir structure was driven down a couple of feet lower than the rest of the structure creating the maximum height of the wetland, or what is called a pool elevation. This is where water will flow over once it gets to a certain height. The top of the weir is cut off giving it a flat edge so that an angle iron

cap can be welded on the top of the weir. Earth embankments on each side of the weir structure are then needed to tie the weir structure into existing ground. Fabric was placed d o w n s t re a m a n d u p stream of the sheets and rock riprap was placed on the fabric. The rock will reduce the risk of erosion around the sheet piling, which could be created by

wave action or water going over the spillway. This project created up to a 14 acre wetland pool that will provide numerous wildlife benefits going into the future. It will also greatly reduce the risk of washing out a township road to the south that has happened over the years with spring snow melt.

Completed weir structure on a CRP Wetland Restoration

This fall we completed a wetland restoration project through CRP. Wetland restorations restore the functions and values of wetland ecosystems that h a v e p re v i o u s l y b e e n cropped. They provide habitat for wildlife and enhance water quality. The restored wetlands also help reduce the impacts during flood events. This wetland restoration was a little different than the

usual ones we complete on land signed up into CRP. Typically with land enrolled into CRP, we are able to complete wetland restorations with earth embankments or ditch plugs. Due to the large watershed area this site has, we were not able to do this. The concern was that with the large amount of water moving though this area, an earth embankment or ditch plug would poten-

tially blow out after a spring thaw or after a large rain event. To try to avoid this, a steel weir structure was installed. The weir structure consisted of 29 steel sheet pilings to be interlocked and driven into the ground spanning over 52 feet. Each piling was ten feet in length and was driven into the ground about six feet with the use of the bucket of a large excavator. A

Installation of steel sheet piling for CRP wetland restoration

2013 CRP acres down from last year This year was down from last year with about 842 acres being enrolled into CRP through both the Continuous CRP and the General CRP sign-ups in Stevens County. Typically Continuous CRP sign-ups are year round while General CRP sign-ups have specific sign-up periods. Because a new Farm Bill was not passed in 2013, contracts were only able to be signed up between May and September. The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a voluntary program 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 those problem areas. A landowner that signs up for CRP will receive an annual rental payment from FSA for 10 to 15 years along with cost-share and other incentives depend-

ing on the practice. To be e l i g i b l e f o r C R P, a landowner must have crop history in four out of the six years between 20022007. The rental payment is determined by using the three predominate soil types within the eligible area. In Stevens County, the annual rental payment for CRP signed up in 2013 is between $108 and $166 per acre. Up to 50 percent cost-share is given out to help the landowner pay for the establishment of approved cover. This can include site preparation, trees, tree planting, seed, seeding and wetland restorations. Incentives will vary depending on the practice, but can include a signing incentive payment (SIP) of $100 to $150 per acre, a practice incentive payment (PIP) which helps pay for the installation cost on certain practices, and a 20% incentive on top of the rental payment for certain practices. The most common practices in Stevens County in 2013 were filter strips, shelterbelt establishments and tall grass prairie restorations.

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Filter Strips One of the most effective forms of conservation through CRP is a filter strip (CP21). Also called a buffer strip, a filter strip will consist of native grasses planted along streams, drainage ditches, wetlands and/or lakes. This helps reduce soil erosion and remove pollutants in order to improve water quality while enhancing wildlife habitat. The width of a filter strip along one of these waterbodies is usually between 30 and 120 feet wide, but can be extended out farther due to factors such as frequently flooded areas. Filter strip contracts tend to be smaller in acres than some of the other CRP practices while still providing benefits. It takes out those wet areas along streams and wetlands which tend to be troublesome for landowners anyway. They can help square up fields, which makes it easier to farm the rest especially with the large equipment these days. If a landowner placed a 40foot wide filter strip on both sides of a drainage ditch that ran half a mile, they would only be taking

about 4.8 acres of land out of production, while still getting paid for it. A filter strip contract will receive an annual rental payment with a 20% incentive on top, cost-share, SIP and PIP. Shelterbelt Establishments The shelterbelt practice was the most-enrolled practice in 2013 in Stevens County, all of which were reenrollments from previous signups. The primary goal of this practice is to provide protection for structures, animals and people. Additional benefits include reduction of soil erosion by wind, management of snow deposition, visual and noise screens, and the creation of wildlife habitat. Shelterbelts enrolled are eligible to plant three to eight rows of trees through CRP. Usually we try to plant a variety of different trees including shrubs, deciduous trees and coniferous trees. A 16.5 foot buffer is allowed o n t h e o u t s i d e ro w s , which is nice to have along cropped areas to avoid impacts from chemicals. Shelterbelt practices will

receive an annual rental payment along with costshare, SIP, and PIP. Tallgrass Prairie Restoration Ta l l g r a s s p r a i r i e restorations provide habitat for declining wildlife species by conserving and increasing the diversity of native plant communities. The land enrolled must be planted to native grasses and forbs with a minimum of 15 species. There is no size requirement for this practice. Land enrolled under this practice will receive an annual rental payment and cost-share. The tallgrass prairie restoration practice is only available through the General CRP sign-up. 2013 marked the fourth year in a row that a General CRP

sign-up was offered since 2006. General CRP signups work by using a scoring system to rank each contract offered with the higher scores being accepted. The six factors that a contract is scored on are wildlife habitat cover benefits, water quality benefits, on-farm benefits from reduced erosion, enduring benefits, air quality benefits, and cost. These are just a few of the practices that are eligible for CRP. If any of these spark your interest or if you have another idea in mind, feel free to call (320) 589-4886, email andy.rice@stevensswcd.o rg, or stop in and talk to Andy Rice to see what you are eligible for.


Morris, Minnesota 56267

Saturday, March 1, 2014 - Page 5

Pope and Stevens County Water Fest in ninth year On Sept. 13, over 250 sixth grade students and teachers from Pope and Stevens counties attended the Ninth Annual Pope and Stevens County Water Fest. Students from Minnewaska, BelgradeBrooten-Elrosa, Morris A re a E l e m e n t a r y, S t . Mary’s, Hancock, and Glacial Hills attended this year ’s event, which was held at the Pope C o u n t y Fa i rgrounds in Glenwood. The students were involved in a day of hands-on learning about the water cycle, water conservation, aqua robotics, water

quality, and ground water protection. They also had fun at sessions entitled Bubbleology, Web of Life, Sea Bingo, Minnesota Fish, Minnow Racing, Macro-invertebrates and the Incredible Journey. The presenters were from various agencies including the Science Museum of Min-

nesota, Pope & Stevens Soil & Water Conservation Districts, University of Minnesota Extension, Natural Resources Conservation Service, North Fork Crow River Watershed District, Glenwood DNR office and MPCA.

Students learn about macro invertebrates at Water Fest for sixth graders

(Above right) Aqua-Robotics was a new station at Water Fest in 2013, presented by Jody Koubsky from University of Minnesota Extension (Right) Al Schmidt from DNR Fisheries in Glenwood brought his fish tank to share examples of Minnesota fish with Stevens and Pope County sixth graders

Students have fun with bubbles at Water Fest

Pomme de Terre River Association continuously changing eral counties in northwestern Minnesota. His office will be based out of Detroit Lakes and he will likely still be seen around the watershed from time to time. With the help of this Watershed Coordinator position, formed a couple years before Brett was hired, and an active Technical Advisory Committee made up of staff from SWCDs and counties within the watershed, the Pomme de Terre River Association has been increasingly active in recent years. Through increased efforts to obtain grant funding, the group has been able to fund the implementation of water quality best management practices (BMPs) such as rain gardens, water and sediment control basins, livestock exclusions, grazing plans, filter strips and w e t l a n d re s t o r a t i o n s

throughout the watershed. Community outreach continues to be important to the work of the joint powers board as well, and they have produced an informational booklet about the watershed and water quality efforts in it. They hold periodic meetings for different stakeholder groups interested in water quality (ie. ag producers, lakeshore owners, municipalities). Additional monitoring of water quality within the watershed continues as needed. A s a re s u l t o f t h e ramped up efforts of the JPB, the Pomme de Terre watershed is one of the first in the state to have a watershed-wide TMDL study done and it is the first in the state to have an a p p r o v e d Wa t e r s h e d Restoration and Protection Strategy outlining plans to improve and protect water quality in the

watershed. Previously, TMDL studies, and the resulting funding tied to them, have been done on a pollutant-specific basis, instead of considering a watershed as a whole and including all pollutants in a more coordinated effort. One of the latest grants applied for by the Pomme de Terre River Association

Joint Powers Board involves considerable funding for voluntary upgrades to septic systems. Additional information about this program and who may participate will be promoted throughout the watershed in the near future. P l e a s e c o n t a c t J a re d House, Watershed Coordinator, at 320-589-4886

ext 109 or, or stop into the Stevens SWCD office for more information about this or other programs and forms of financial assistance available to landowners interested in protecting and restoring water quality.

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In recent years, the Pomme de Terre River Association, which had been somewhat “inactive” since it’s beginnings in the 1980s, has begun to produce tangible results in the protection and restoration of water quality in the Pomme de Terre River Watershed. Several changes in recent years have increased the productivity of the group. In December 2013, Brett Arne resigned as the Watershed Coordinator for the Pomme de Terre River Association Joint Powers Board. He had been coordinating the efforts of SWCD and county staff from Big Stone, Douglas, Grant, Stevens, Swift and West Otter Tail counties since the fall of 2010. Brett took an opportunity to work with the state’s Board of Water & Soil Resources as a Board Conservationist, overseeing sev-

1000 Atlantic Ave • Morris

Page 6 - Saturday, March 1, 2014


Morris, Minnesota 56267

Nelsons are 2013 Outstanding Conservationists Congratulations to George and Mary Ann Nelson for being selected as Stevens County ’s 2013 Outstanding Conservationists. They are pictured here receiving their award during the MASWCD Convention in December of 2013 in Bloomington. Nelsons attended the state convention along with Stevens SWCD staff and supervisors. The Nelsons are very passionate about the outdoors and strive to in-

crease wildlife habitat and improve water quality by putting various conservation practices on their land. In addition to native grasses on their CRP/RIM and trees in their farmstead windbreak, the Nelsons constructed the first l a r g e r a i n g a rd e n i n Stevens County, designed to capture storm water runoff from their barn. They restored a wetland through the CRP program, and they maintain a grassed water way en-

rolled as a RIM riparian buffer. George recently served as president of the Alberta Wildlife Federation, and Mary Ann is an active member of the Pomme de Terre Garden Club, which features conservation-related educational seminars each year. Congratulations to the Nelsons for their outstanding work with conservation.

Erickson assists area offices with wetland determinations He enjoys being busy, spending time with his family, working on the farm and being outdoors hunting and fishing. Adam

George and MaryAnn Nelson, 2013 Stevens County Outstanding Conservationists

Water and sediment control basins helping farmers control gully erosion Gullies and washouts caused by concentrated overland water flow can create major headaches for farmers and landowners in Stevens County. These gullies and washouts are often uncrossable; degrade the condition of the soil; remove tons of valuable top soil; and remain unproductive areas in a field. The Natural Resources Conser vation Ser vice (NRCS) has successfully installed water and sediment control basins (WASCOBs) in several areas of the county that have succeeded in both increasing the productivity of a field and stopping erosion. A WASCOB system works by slowing down surface

water by creating small dikes and installing Hicken bottom style inlets upstream of the dike to draw down retained water in less than 24 hours. A WASCOB is usually two to six feet tall and can be installed to be farmable with 8:1 side slopes or with a grass slope. Stevens County has had excellent success in recent years working with landowners to treat their gully erosion concerns. In 2013, a total of 35 WASCOBs were installed by landowners of Stevens County with the assistance of the USDA Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP). If you have areas of noticeable erosion on your

land please stop at our office and we would gladly discuss which erosion control practice might work best for you and your operation. We have very good maps now and topographic programs that make it easy to pick out erosion trouble spots. We have qualified staff that will work with you to design your WASCOB and provide oversight on the project to make sure the practice is installed as designed. Financial assistance is also available from NRCS and/or other local government units. Stop by the Stevens County NRCS office today and let our staff put together a plan to help control erosion on your farm.

currently lives in Morris with his wife Katie and two sons Callan and Kadam.

Adam Erickson

Adam Erickson started with NRCS as a Wetland Specialist in October of 2011. He is housed in the Stevens County NRCS office and travels to NRCS Area 2 field offices to assist with the certified wetland determination process. He received a B.S. in Aquatic Biology from Bemidji State University in 2006. In the past he had worked seasonally for the Stevens SWCD between high school and college. Prior to NRCS, he was employed by West Central Environmental Consultants. Adam grew up locally on a farm near Donnelly, raising grass-fed beef cattle.

Staebler serves as office manager Chris has been our Office Manager since the fall of 2005. Her main role is to provide support to the SWCD board and staff, as well as to the Pomme de Terre Joint Powers Board and its technical commit-

tee. She oversees the financial recordkeeping and daily operations at the office and helps with field work when needed. Chris graduated from the University of Minnesota Morris with a degree in Eng-

lish. She has worked in Morris since then and lives with her husband and two sons south of town. When not at work, she enjoys horseback riding, reading, and watching her sons play sports.

Chris Staebler

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Morris, Minnesota 56267

Saturday, March 1, 2014 - Page 7

Conservation Day at SWELL

Over 200 fifth grade students and teachers enjoyed a fun day in the outdoors on Thursday, September 26. Students from all schools in Pope and Stevens counties were invited to learn about conservation and the environment at SWELL (Scandia Wo o d E n v i ro n m e n t a l Learning Lab), just east of Morris. This was our seventh year for the event at SWELL. The hands-on interactive learning sessions included “Raptors,” presented by the Audubon Center of the North Woods. The students had a chance to meet live raps tors and learn about their o 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, Prairie Wildlife, Nature’s Stock Market, and the game “Orienteering.” This year we added “Reptiles and Amphibians,” which was a huge hit with the students. They had a lot of fun working with the frogs, snakes and lizards. The program was coordinated by Judy Johnston of Stevens SWCD. Our

presenters and volunteers that day were staff from: Po p e S W C D , S t e v e n s SWCD, USDA-ARS Soils Lab, North Fork Crow River Watershed, NRCS, US Fish and Wildlife, Audubon Center of the North Woods, and SWELL C o o rd i n a t o r R a n d e e Hokanson. Event sponsors include: Stevens and Pope County Local Water Plan, Hancock Sportsmen’s Club, Pope County Pheasant Restoration, Glenwood Rotary Club, North Fork Crow River Watershed, Glenwood Fire Department, Starbuck JCs, Agassiz Seeds, Ag Country Services, Stevens and Pope SWCD, Engebretson Sanitary Disposal, Eco Water, Stevens County Pheasants Forever and B r o o t e n C o m m e rc i a l Club. Special thanks to the SWCD staff of Stevens and Pope Counties and to our session presenters and volunteers, as well as SWELL landowners Linda and Karl Retzlaff, for making this an outstanding event for our fifth grade students.

Hancock fifth grade students learn about amphibians in a station presented by the Audubon Center near Sandstone during Conservation Day at SWELL. Mrs. Nelson is their teacher.

Morris fifth grade students from Mrs. Millard’s class learn about wetlands and wetland plants during Conservation Day at SWELL

Benefits of cover crops Cover crops are grasses, legumes, forbs, or other herbaceous plants that are established for seasonal cover and conservation purposes. Cover crops are typically planted in the late summer or early fall around harvest and before spring planting of the following year’s crops. Common cover crops used in Minnesota include winter hardy plants such as rye and wheat, and others used include oats, barley, spring wheat, hairy vetch, red clover, turnips, canola, radishes, and triticale. Cover crop selection and management should focus on maximizing both above and below-ground biomass and encouraging nutrient cycling as deep in the soil profile as possible. Choosing a mix of a grass with a fibrous root system and a legume or brassica with a tap root will usually provide the widest range of benefits. Benefits of a cover crop include: • Erosion control

mended seeding • Protection of dates to establish a cash crop from wind successful cover when cash crop is at crop. Seeding can the most vulnerable be drilled, broadstage of growth cast, or aerial ap• Increases soil plied. The EQIP proorganic matter gram provides pro• Conserves soil ducers with a good moisture opportunity to try • Increases nutricover crops on their ent cycling l a n d . P ro d u c e r s • Provides nitrogen for plant use Cover crop of radishes planted in Stevens must have an approved EQIP con• S u p p r e s s e s County in 2013 tract. Payments in weeds • Reduces compaction it will be terminated. All EQIP range from $58 to • Provides supplemen- legume seed is recom- $95 per acre, depending mended to be inoculated. on your scenario. Be sure tal forage for livestock P l a n t i n g a w i l d l i f e Brassicas provide excel- to work with your crop infriendly cover crop such as lent weed control and Ni- surance agent for more debuckwheat or a brassica trogen scavenging poten- tails to make sure the cover and leaving the growth tial. The tap roots are ex- crop will not interfere with and/or the grain can be a cellent at penetrating your crop insurance provery valuable winter food tillage pans and dense soil gram. Stop by the NRCS office in Morris for more insource for a wide variety of layers. NRCS has many valu- formation on cover crops. wildlife and pollinators. Legumes alone or in com- able tools for producers inbination with grasses can terested in trying cover provide quicker soil biol- crops on their operation. ogy/biota restoration and These tools can help proNitrogen fixation. An early ducers determine what summer planted legume species would be best will grow rapidly and fix a suited for their goals with good amount of Nitrogen cover crops, range of seedprior to a killing frost when i n g r a t e s a n d re c o m -

Olson relocates to Iowa as a Soil Conservationist After over two years as the Soil Conservation Technician in the Morris Service Center, Josiah Olson has accepted a transfer and began as Union County Iowa’s Soil Conservationist in the Creston Service Center on Jan. 13, 2014. “I’ve enjoyed being part of this community and helping apply good stewardship and conservation practices on private land in Stevens County.” says Olson “I especially enjoyed working on conservation ease-

ments and engineering projects that reduce erosion and runoff.” The Morris Office wishes Josiah all the best in the next step of his career.

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Page 8 - Saturday, March 1, 2014

Morris, Minnesota 56267

Annual Conservation Poster Contest winners

Each year, the Stevens Soil & Water Conservation District sponsors a poster and mural contest for fifth and sixth grade students in each of the Stevens County area’s elementary schools. Staff from Stevens SWCD visit each class and present information on a current conservation topic. This year’s topic was “Where Does Your Water Shed.” Students from Morris, Hancock, and St. Mary’s

elementary schools listened to presentations by SWCD staff and then submitted individual posters or group murals for our contest. Winners were chosen at each school. Stevens SWCD gave Earth Day t-shirts to each county winner. Ten winners at the county level advanced to Area 2 judging held in June.

Stevens Soil and Water Conservation District named local winners in their poster and mural contest. From Morris Area Elementary, winners were: (Back row, L to R) Jaden Ross, Carissa Morman, Leah Asmus, Riley Decker, Gwen Hanson, Sylvia Beld and Lucy Deane. (Front Row, L to R) Sophie DeToy, Taryn Paul, Cade Fehr, Miranda Papesh, Abigail Malek, Mich Summer and Sarah Hoffman. Congratulations to Sylvia Beld, Lucy Deane and Riley Decker for advancing to Area 2 competition, and to Riley Decker, whose poster placed third at Area 2 competition in June.

St. Mary’s Elementary had five mural winners in the Stevens SWCD poster and mural contest: (L to R) Liz Dietz, Jennifer Solvie, Kylie Swanson, MacKenna Kehoe, and Colton Wohlers. All of the St. Mary’s students’ murals advanced to Area 2 judging.

Hancock Elementary winners in the Stevens SWCD poster and mural contest, “Where does your Water Shed,” were (L to R back row): Sixth grade teacher Stephanie Flaten, Amber Hausmann, Pearl Schmidgall, Martha Schmidgall, Harliegh Schlief and fifth grade teacher Lynn Nelson. In front: Greta Schaefer and Miranda Chamberlain.

Tiling? Mitigating? Wetland Banking? Then you need to know - What is WCA? 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 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. It is administered by local government units; in rural areas this is usually the County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). SWCDs also provide technical assistance to landowners.

What should you do before you start a project? First, complete an “AD1026” form for your local USDA office. Next, bring a copy of this to the WCA Administrator and explain what you plan to do. If you are interested in tiling, mitgating 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 Adminis-

trator 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.

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If you need a contractor, make sure they submit a “Contractor Liability Form.” Contractors who conduct projects that will impact a wetland are required to notify the local government. The Contractor Responsibility and Landowner Statement Fo r m i s a v a i l a b l e a t etlands/forms and must be mailed to the local government prior to starting work.

Communication is the key. Compliance with USDA (Swampbuster) 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.


Morris, Minnesota 56267

Saturday, March 1, 2014 - Page 9

Cost share available for Rain Gardens

What is a Rain 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 not to hold standing water for more than a 24 hour period. These gardens can be large or small depending on the amount of runoff captured. Stevens SWCD, through the Pomme de Terre River Association and the Clean Water Fund, has cost-share money available to residents within the Pomme de Terre water shed for designing and installing rain gardens on their property. We can pay for all cost associated with design, construction, and planting of the garden, up to 75 percent. If the homeowner want to do some of the work we can use your time

towards the other 25 percent, so the garden can essentially cost you little to nothing to install. Rain gardens are specifically designed to control some of the runoff on your property by diverting the water from the impervious areas into a basin that is created in your yard. This runoff often contains excess lawn and garden fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, yard waste, sedi-

ment, and animal waste, which all can cause water pollution. Rain gardens are designed to hold a few inches of water for no more than a 24 hour period, filtering out pollutants and letting that water slowly s o a k i n t o t h e g ro u n d rather than running off into storm drains, and

eventually into streams and lakes. Some of the many benefits of rain gardens are: filtering runoff pollution, recharging local groundwater, improving water quality, removing standing water in your yard, reducing mosquito breeding, reducing potential home flooding, and creating habitat for birds and butterflies. Start today by looking at what you can do on your property. Maybe you can Nelson garden in 2011. A root base is starting to take place help by catching the water from your downspouts or trying to divert water from your driveway. Rain gardens can work almost anywhere. Keep in mind when looking for an area to install a rain garden the basins need to be at least 10 feet from buildings to prevent foundation and basements from being damaged by water. They should be 35 feet or more from septic system drain fields, and 50 feet or more from drinking water wells. Please contact Matt or John at Stevens SWCD, (320)-589-4886 ext 3, if you have any questions or are interested in putting a rain garden on your property. We have cost share funding available but this 2012 photo of the Nelson’s garden. The plants are starting to mature money is available on a first come, first serve basis so don’t hesitate to give us a call before it’s too late!

George and Mary Ann Nelson’s rain garden after completion in 2010

Mature garden, summer of 2013. The plants have filled in and a root base is fully established


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Morris, Minnesota 56267

Planting trees for conservation

In 2013 Stevens SWCD sold over 7,000 trees and installed about 21,260 feet of mulch fabric over 11 windbreaks/shelterbelts. These trees were cost shared through a variety of programs, which included CRP, State Cost Share, and also EQIP. Within these programs the most common practices are shelterbelts, living snow fences, field wind breaks, riparian buffers, and wildlife plantings. Cost share and/or incentives are available for all of these projects, but they all have different requirements. Feel free to stop by the office and find the right program for you to start or continue planting trees for conservation. How to prepare for planting trees The first thing to consider when planting trees is site preparation. This is the biggest part of the tree planting, and the step that is over-looked the most. Good site prep helps with the competition of weeds and prepares the soil for the newly planted trees. If you are planting in a preexisting grove the ground needs to be clear of all trees and existing stumps. Along with this it needs to be worked several times to

New farmstead windbreak planted by Stevens SWCD, just after completion

Fabric installation on newly planted trees

remove all the roots. It seems that every time it is worked more roots appear, but all must be removed to help with the planting. When planting into a field t h a t w a s p re v i o u s l y cropped, it is best if the ground is worked as if it was going to be cropped again. Plan ahead for success Tree selection is an important step in planning for a successful planting. 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 a number of books to assist you in your decision. These books will also show you pictures of what the trees look like to make sure they meet all your landscaping demands. Another good idea when planting trees is to select multiple varieties within the same row. 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. Mulch fabric and tree tubes are recommended on most sites. The trees perform much better. The fabric is put into place around the trees to reduce the competition of weeds or volunteer trees. The tree tubes should be put on all the deciduous large trees, especially where animals are likely to be feeding on them. Animals will feed on the bark or new buds, which will kill or hin-A der tree growth. Watering trees is essential the first year of the planting, especially during hot dry peri-w ods. Trees that are watered periodically and free of weed competition have much better growth and overall performance. Place an order today Stevens SWCD is currently taking tree orders for 2014. This includes planning and plantingW plans for conservation, asA 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. For more information, contact Andy or John at (320)-589-4886 ext 3.

RIM/WRP projects were used to restore this property. The natural topography of the land was well suited for embankments. The size of the watersheds will allow the embankments to hold water most years. There were a total of four embankments on this site, along with three scrapes. Another aspect of the construction was the removal of old field tile. Most of it was older concrete tile that was installed many years ago. This will allow the water to soak into the land and fill up the wetlands. These restorations in combination with the existing wetlands already on the property will make great habitat for wildlife. The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) has very competitive payment rates, and is a great program for those who are conser vation minded, hunters, or individuals who are looking to keep the land in their family. For more information about the WRP, please contact Matthew Rose at 320-5894886 ext. 104 or stop by the office at the USDA Service Center in Morris.

2014 Century & Sesquicentennial Farm Applications & Recognition Minnesota Farm Bureau is now accepting applications for the 2014 Century Farm and the 2014 Sesquicentennial Farm (family owned for 150 years) recognition. If interested in an application or would like more information, please stop in at the Farm Bureau office located at 215 Atlantic Ave, Morris, or call Beverly at 320-585-5569. Due: April 1, 2014


In 2013, there were two wetland restorations completed on RIM/WRP easement land in Stevens County. The first restoration this year was a continuation from last year. This area of the easement was redesigned by the engineers. The original plans u n d e re s t i m a t e d t h e amount of water coming into the easement at this point. With so much water at this concentrated point the engineers used a different structure to regulate the water better. This structure slows the water down before it makes its way through the easement. Now that the structure is in place and functioning as planned the restoration is complete. When visiting the site this spring and summer there were lots of ducks, shorebirds, song birds and wild flowers. It was exactly the results we look for when restoring prairie pothole habitat. The second restoration completed this year also went well. This site did not require any water control structures therefore only embankments and scrapes


Morris, Minnesota 56267

WIA added more land for public hunting in 2013

Walk in Access, also known as WIA, is a voluntary program that pays landowners to open up their private land for public hunting. This program focuses on land already enrolled into a conservation program such as Conservation Reser ve Program (CRP), Reinvest In Minnesota (RIM), or Wetlands wReserve Program (WRP). Areas not in a conservation program that still provide high quality wildlife habitat, like river bottoms or wetland areas, are also eligible for the program. f To be eligible for the program, areas must contain a minimum of 40 acres to be enrolled. Areas ysmaller than 40 acres can be enrolled only if they are adjoining Wildlife Management Areas (WMA), Waterfowl Production Areas (WPA) or other WIA areas that combined contain at least 40 acres. Landowners can enter into a one-year contract or a multi-year contract and

they have the ability to cancel the contract at any time without any penalties. Landowners are paid $10/acre for acres enrolled. They can receive an additional $1/acre for over 140 contiguous acres, for land within 1/2 mile of a WMA or WPA, or for entering into a multi-year contract. Stevens SWCD administers the WIA Program in Stevens County. In 2013, over 1100 acres were under contract in the county. Statewide there are 190 sites enrolled, totaling about 20,000 acres a c ro s s 2 8 c o u n t i e s i n southwest Minnesota. Currently there is funding available through 2015 for this program. Locations of the parcels enrolled can be found on the DNR website or an atlas containing the locations can be picked up at the SWCD office. In 2013, the DNR required that any hunter planning to access land enrolled into WIA must get a

$3 Walk-In Access Validation on their hunting license. This is to help track the use of land enrolled into WIA and to help develop a long term program. Hunters can also ask to donate $1, $3, or $5 towards the program to help fund it into the future. WIA land is for public hunting only from Sept 1 to May 1. No target practice, trapping, dog training, camping, horseback riding or fires are allowed. No vehicles are allowed on conservation land. Parking is along roads or in designated parking areas only. Once private land is enrolled in the program, bright yellow-green hexagon signs are placed along the property boundaries. For more information on WIA, contact Andy Rice at the Stevens SWCD office. Other WIA information can be found on the DNR website at

Saturday, March 1, 2014 - Page 11

Do your drainage ditches look like this? A solution might be a side inlet structure A side inlet structure is used to stabilize the grade and control erosion in natural or artificial channels to prevent the formation or advancing of gullies and to enhance environmental quality and reduce pollution hazards. These are applied in areas where concentration and flow velocity of water require structures to stabilize the grade in channels or to control gully erosion. NRCS offers technical and financial assistance through the EQIP program to implement side inlet s t r u c t u re s . Fo r 2 0 1 4 , NRCS offers $4668.56 for each side inlet structure. A typical side inlet construc-

tion usually deals with about 400 cubic yards of earth fill and about 20 feet of 30-inch, 16 gauge corrugate metal pipe with a hood inlet. A small, nonlined plunge pool protects the outlet channel. Any disturbed areas are pro-

tected with a permanent vegetative cover. Producers must have an approved contract in order to receive any financial assistance and implement the practice to meet NRCS practice standards and specifications.

New Watershed Coordinator hired Jared House started working for the Pomme de Terre River Association as the Project Coordinator on Feb. 3. Housed in the Stevens SWCD office, he will be working to coordinate the water efforts of the six counties within the Pomme de Terre Watershed (Big Stone, Douglas, Grant, Stevens, Swift and West Otter Tail). The group works with local landowners, private groups, and government agencies to help improve the water quality of the Pomme de Terre water-

Day at the Capitol Matt Solemsaas, Stevens SWCD District Administrator, and Dave Lonergan, Stevens SWCD Supervisor, met with State Senator Torrey Westrom at the State Capitol in February to discuss conservation issues in Minnesota.

cludes sales, planting, planning, and implementation. He is also the coordinator for the Walk In Access program. Andy attended Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, where he received a B.S. degree in Environmental Science with emphasis in Natural Science. Andy lives in Alexandria with his wife and son.

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Andy Rice, District Technician

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Jared House

tomedi High School. He obtained a B.S. degree in Aquatic Biology with a minor in Environmental Studies from Bemidji State University, where he is currently finishing up work on his masters degree in Biology. Prior to moving to Morris, Jared worked as a technician for the Minnesota DNR assisting in invasive species, wildlife, and shallow lakes research. When not hard at work Jared enjoys fishing, hunting, scuba diving, and spending time with his wife and two cats.


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Page 12 - Saturday, March 1, 2014


Morris, Minnesota 56267

EQIP – Environmental Quality Incentives Program

EQIP technical and financial assistance available for rotational grazing systems

EQIP is a voluntary conservation program from the USDA Natural Res o u rc e s C o n s e r v a t i o n Service (NRCS). EQIP pro-

vides 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, and/or 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 pro-

duction, seasonal high tunnels, drainage water management, windbreaks/shelterbelts, native prairie seeding, prescribed burning, and rotational grazing systems 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 could fix that and may be eligible for financial assistance. Producers must be signed up in EQIP and be in compliance with all USDA Farm Bill provisions in order to receive financial assistance. In 2013, over 3,200

acres had practices installed to treat resource concerns in Stevens County. If you have future plans, contact the NRCS Field Office staff in Morris soon so we can do a thorough onsite 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. Signup is continuous and applications are accepted at any time.

EQIP can provide assistance for producers wanting to do notill/strip-till

Whales in Minnesota? It may sound strange to talk about these marine mammals here in the middle of North America, but it makes perfect sense when you understand that Minnesota shares the same big watershed as these enormous, gentle giants! C o o rd i n a t e d b y t h e Stevens SWCD and paid for by the Stevens County Wa t e r P l a n , S t e v e n s County elementary students had the opportunity to learn about features that classify whales and humans into the same animal g ro u p , t h e v a r i e t y o f whales in our oceans, what they eat, how they live and other fascinating details about whales. To add even more fun, the “Whale in our School” assembly culminated with a tour inside a life-size model of the biggest whale

Students learn about whales and their ocean habitat

Stevens County third graders learn about whales and how they relate to Minnesota lakes and rivers

of all – the Blue Whale! Classroom workshops dive deeper into ocean life and whale adaptations with experiments and activities to learn more about the amazing features of

these gentle giants of our oceans. This is a favorite classroom presentation among third grade students in Stevens County. They just love the chance to go in-

side a very life-like 70 foot whale. The program is held at Morris Area Elementarry School in March each year.

Mr. Berget’s third grade class poses in front of the 70 foot whale that filled the Morris Area Elementary gym

Morris office welcomes Walker as new District Conservationist Cory Walker started working for the Morris NRCS Field Office on May 20, 2013 as District Conservationist. For those that have not heard, Jeff Hellermann transferred to the Glenwood Field Office in early 2013. Walker was raised on farm near Villard, in Pope County. He graduated from Minnewaska Area High School and graduated from the University of Minnesota, Crookston with a degree in Natural Resource Management. He started with NRCS in 2009 as a Soil Conservationist in Bottineau, ND, and then transferred in 2011 to Clarkfield, MN as a District Conservationist. Cory and his wife Marybeth, along with their two

Cory Walker

Labrador Retrievers, reside by Villard. Cory enjoys farming with his brother, hunting, fishing and helping his parents with their two acre strawberry farm. Cory looks forward to meeting and working with the landowners and producers of Stevens County.


Morris, Minnesota 56267

Saturday, Saturday, March 1, 2014 - Page 13

Morris Area schools excel at Area 2 Sr. Envirothon, first place team advances to State

The Area 2 Envirothon, an outdoor educational competition for students, was held April 24 at the Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center near Spicer. The area event is modeled after state and national competitions. Students 9-12th grade are eligible to participate in the senior event. The junior division is designed to introduce 6-8th graders to the program. The competition challenges students’ environmental knowledge and problem solving skills at learning stations based on key areas of the environment. Information is presented by natural resource professionals at five stations: wetlands, wildlife, forestry, soils and the 2013 current issue topic “Grazing Management in Minnesota.” The students work collaboratively to answer test questions at each station. In addition, prior to the event, the senior teams prepare a 10 minute oral presentation about the current issue topic that they present at the competition. Stevens SWCD takes an active part in organizing and carrying out the Area

2 Envirothon each year. We know the importance of teaching youth about our ecology and natural resources and the Envirothon is a great opportunity to do this. We are h a p p y t o p ro v i d e t h e chance for area students to take part and are very pleased that our students consistently do well in the competition. Morris Area had three senior teams competing at Prairie Woods in 2013. One senior team advanced to state. They placed first overall and first in the oral presentation category at the Area 2 Envirothon. Morris Area had a second team that placed fifth at Area 2 and fourth in the oral presentation. The first place team advanced to s t a t e , placing 11th out of 32 teams at the state competition held at St. John’s U n i v e rsity. Thanks a re in o rd e r t o

the Area 2 Envirothon committee members, session presenters, judges, participating schools and sponsors for making the 2013 Area 2 event possible: Soil and Water Conservation Districts, County Environmental Services offices and local Watershed Districts within Area 2; the USDA-Natural Res o u rc e s C o n s e r v a t i o n S e r v i c e ; U S Fi s h a n d Wildlife Service; Ag Country Farm Credit Services; and Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center. Contact Stevens SWCD Education & Promotion Coordinator Judy Johnston at 320-589-4886 ext. 114 for more information on organizing a team or sponsoring the local event.

Morris Area team places first at Area 2 Envirothon and advances to State Envirothon. Team was coached by High School Environmental Science teacher Mr. Dylan Viss. Team members included (L to R): Yasha Hoffman, Beth Holland, Bryce Jergenson, Chelsea Elringer, and Kjersa Anderson.

(Above) Students are tested on their knowledge of forestry at the Area 2 Envirothon at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center. This station was presented by Rick Riemers, Kandiyohi SWCD. (Left) Morris Area team places fifth overall at Area 2 Envirothon, (L to R) Riley Biesterfeld, Austin Hills, Isaac Wente, Joey Dufault, and Matt Munsterman.

Save money, save energy- update & manage your irrigation system USDA-NRCS offers assistance to producers and landowners that utilize irrigators on their operation on acres that have been under center pivot irrigation for at least two of the past five years. Irrigation Water Management (IWM) is defined as determining and controlling the volume, frequency, and application rate of irrigation water in a planned, efficient manner. Benefits of proper irrigation water management include conserving water through efficient application and scheduling, improving crop yield and quality by managing according to crop needs, reducing runoff resulting in decreasing soil erosion, decreasing deep percolation and leachate contaminates into ground water, improving water quality (surface and subsurface), saving energy

through efficient pumping and reducing nutrient movement past root zone. Technical and financial assistance through the EQIP program can be used to renovate an existing sprinkler system to low pressure conversions and also offers an incentive payment for implementing an irrigation water management plan. Growers in Stevens County often utilize a checkbook method for documenting water management–typically including crop grown, soil moisture conditions prior to irrigation, dates of irrigation, depth of irrigation applied, duration of irrigations and amounts of rainfall. If you have interest in finding out more about the benefits of irrigation water management, stop by the NRCS office or call 320-589-4886 ext 3.

John Lembcke joins SWCD staff as Assistant Technician

John started employment with Stevens SWCD in April 2013. As the district’s Assistant Technician, he works with planting native grasses, trees and rain gardens, and with mowing. He resides in rMorris where he was born and raised. After high school John attended Minnesota State University Moorhead and received a degree in Business Administrations. Following col-

John Lembcke

lege he returned back to Morris and worked for Lembcke’s Garage for nine years. John is presently serving as Rescue Captain on the Morris Fire Department, which he has been a member of since 2006. When not working, John enjoy playing slow pitch softball, hunting, ice fishing, and playing darts, but most of all he enjoys being with friends and family.

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Page 14 - Saturday, March 1, 2014

Morris, Minnesota 56267

Stevens SWCD hosts conservation tour in 2013

easements, CRP and CREP Easements, Water and Sediment Control Basins, tree plantings, and the West Central Research & Outreach Center. The tour concluded with lunch at the Pomme de Terre Park.

Brett Arne, past Pomme de Terre Watershed Coordinator, shared information on the Clean Water Fund project that was completed at the Mill Dam along the Pomme de Terre River just outside of Morris. This was a stream barb installation project to repair and protect the eroded shoreline. Ross Reiffenberger, West Central Technical Service Area 2 staff, was the engineer for the project.

Stevens SWCD hosted a conservation bus tour in June. The first stop was along the Pomme de Terre River below the Mill Dam.

Ross Reiffenberger, West Central Technical Service Area 2 Engineer, and Brett Arne, past Pomme de Terre River Watershed Coordi-

Mark Erickson shared information about his successful rotational cattle grazing project, funded through EQIP

nator, discussed a restoration project where stream barbs, were installed to help stop erosion along the river bank. The project was completed in summer 2012 with Clean Water Legacy funding. Another stop featured

Mark Erickson’s rotational grazing system near Donnelly. Erickson talked with tour participants about his project, which included new fencing, water tanks, and newly-seeded pastures. The project was cost shared through the Natu-

ral Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Other conser vation projects featured during the four-hour tour of the county included several rain gardens, WRP-RIM

Matt Rose coordinates WRP Program

Scandia Woods Environmental Learning Lab activities for 2013 “Ranger Randee” (Randee Hokanson) completed the 35th season and more than 17 years at the SWELL site in 2013. This location of both conservation and historical significance is located in Framnas Township of Stevens County. The site features wetlands, pond and marsh; woodland, prairie and a historic log cabin all with the purpose of guiding students to engage with all five senses in the discovery lesson they arrive to explore. Each spring and fall season teachers can select from eight to ten lessons designed to enhance curriculum specialized for each age group. The land of the site belongs to Karl and Linda Retzlaff and has been designed and constructed for its purpose with funds from Blandin, the Stevens County Historical Museum, Morris Area School District, and Cyrus Math and Science School.

The big project this year was to clean up trees and brush after the huge storm that came through in July. The educator funds have been provided for the past 11 years from the Stevens County Environmental Services Office, Stevens Soil and Water Conservation District and the Stevens County Water Plan.

Matt Rose

Ranger Randee shares her lesson on the “Mirrors of Minnesota” at Conservation Day for fifth grade students

Solemsaas heads up WCA, Water Plan and more

Stevens SWCD planted about 438 acres of native grasses and forbs (flowers) on CRP and WRP projects in 2013

Morris Bearing & Supply

District personnel, and working with the Board of Supervisors. Matt administers the native grass program including sales, planting, planning, and implementation. He also administers state programs such as RIM and the M N We t l a n d Matt Solemsaas C o n s e r v a t i o n Act, and is responsible for impleMatt Solemsaas has menting the Local Water been the District AdminisManagement Plan. Matt trator at Stevens SWCD also serves as the County since December 2005. He Ag Inspector. He is the past is responsible for overseeing daily district activities, President of the Minnesota budgeting, grant writing, Association of Conservasupervising and directing tion District Employees

and a member of the working group that developed the Walk-In Access hunting program in Minnesota. Matt graduated from North Dakota State University with a bachelor’s d e g re e i n Fi s h e r i e s & Wildlife Zoology. Prior to working at the District, Matt worked at the U of M WCROC as an Assistant Scientist in the soils department, as a Habitat Biologist for California Waterfowl Association in Sacramento, and as a Private Lands Biologist for Ducks Unlimited in North Dakota. He is Assistant Chief on the Morris Fire Department and resides in Morris with wife Angie and five kids Abbie, Andrew, A n n i k a , A b b y, a n d Nicholas.

Matt Rose started work at the Stevens County NRCS Field Office in Morris in May 2012. He is the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) Contract Technician, a position coordinated by Ducks Unlimited. The goal of the position is to acquire land for wetland restoration. This increases native habitat which in turn will increase wildlife populations. Rose provides technical service to current WRP easements and to landowners that are interested in enrolling their land into the WRP. Along with Stevens County, Matt also works on WRP easements in Big Stone and Swift counties. Matt grew up in North Dakota and graduated high school in Minnesota. He attended St. Cloud State University where he received his degree in Field BiologyWildlife Management. Through the years he has been an active volunteer with the Minnesota DNR, Minnesota Department of A g r i c u l t u re , a n d t h e Wildlife Society. When not at work Matt enjoys fishing hunting, camping and spending time with his friends and family.

Mature tree plantings have many benefits, including wind breaks, shelter, and habitat for wildlife.

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Saturday, March 1, 2014 - Page 15

Stevens SWCD offers mowing

In 2014 Stevens SWCD mowed almost 800 conservation acres. These mowings were done to control the spread of invasive weeds and voluntary trees, and to promote growth of newly planted sites. We are able to do spot mowing or large clear cuttings. In order to establish a good stand of grass it is essential to mow new plantings the first one to three years. Many times it has to 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 is critical in the early stages of building a root base. 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 inches high. This is done with hope of eradicating any unwanted weeds or trees. Probably our biggest problem with invasive w e e d s i n o u r a re a i s 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 cont ro l l i n g t h e s e w e e d s . 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. Please contact Andy, Matt or John at Stevens SWCD, (320)-589-4886 ext 3, if you have any questions or are interested having any of you conservation acres clipped. Clipping CRP acres can ensure good grass establishment and helps control weeds and volunteer trees

Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) catching on in Stevens County CSP is a program that rewards great conservation management that has been taking place on a producer’s operation and also allows for furthering that g re a t m a n a g e m e n t through enhancements that are implemented during the contract. The list of activities to choose from is extensive and applies to cropland, hayland, pastureland, rangeland and non-industrial private forestland. Contracts are for five years and have a maximum value of

The Wonder of Wolves The Wonder of Wolves was a new program this year for Stevens County students. It was presented in March to fourth graders at Morris Area Elementary by the Prairie Express Ecology Bus Center. The day started with an assembly of Morris, Hancock and St. Mary ’s students in the Morris Area School Media Center, followed by break out classes for each class. The students learned about wolf characteristics, adaptations and behavior. In the classroom breakout sessions, students also participated in hands-on learning with furs,

skulls, tracks and other animal artifacts. Students participated in wolf communication activities as well. The program was made possible through education funding provided by the Comprehensive Local Water Fund.

$40,000 annually. 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’s being done in Stevens County include GPS guidance for chemical applications, drift reduc-

ing 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. C u r re n t l y S t e v e n s County has over 9,100 acres enrolled in CSP. Stop by our office and see what CSP can do for you and your operation.

Johnston coordinates environmental education

Judy Johnston has been with the Stevens SWCD since 1995. She works closely with the education program and promoting the district’s conservation activities. Judy coordinates a variety of enviro n m e n t a l education programs for youth as well as adults. She is the coordinator for both the Area 2 Students had the chance to see and learn and State Envirothons for firsthand about wolves and what the skulls h i g h s c h o o l s t u d e n t s and artifacts look like up close across the state. Judy also helps when needed with district services such as

planting trees, rain gardens and shoreline restorations. Judy is a graduate of Penn State University with a degree in Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology. She lives on a small farm near Morris with her husband Lee and children Justin and Natalie, who both attend the University of Minnesota in St. Paul for Animal Science. Judy enjoys raising sheep, outdoor activities, boating, camping, fishing and scrapbooking in her spare time.

Students had the chance to compare pelts from fox, coyotes and wolves

Mrs. Thompson’s fourth grade class learning about wolves at a presentation coordinated by the Stevens Soil and Water Conservation District

Nitrate testing Morris Area High School students learn to test for nitrate levels in Mrs. House’s biology class in the spring of 2013.


Page 16 - Saturday, March 1, 2014

Morris, Minnesota 56267

Large shoreline protection project completed in 2013

This past fall Stevens SWCD completed our first ever shore land protection project. As most people know, Stevens County, in itself, isn’t the land of 10,000 lakes, so protecting what little shoreline we have is a huge benefit! After some discussion in the fall of 2012 with the n e w o w n e r s o f We s t Pomme Lodge about doing something to improve the quality of the lake, Stevens SWCD proposed that we request funding from the Clean Water Legacy for a grant to restore and protect their entire 300 feet of shore. They were on board with the idea so we applied, were granted funding, and then implemented the project this fall. Significant efforts are being made to protect and

restore shorelines - many by lakeshore property owners. Shoreline protection has many benefits: provide habitat for a wide variety of wildlife, filter out pollutants and runoff that degrade water quality, prevent shoreline erosion by absorbing wave action, enjoy abundant nature: flowers, shrubs, trees, aquatic plants, fish, insects, birds, and provide more leisure time to relax and enjoy the nature of life at the lakeshore. Shore lands are naturally full of a rich diversity of life: plants, animals, and microorganisms, including humans. As we understand more about the structure and function of shore land, we also become aware of the importance of our role in keeping these systems healthy.

Shorelines must also tolerate the fluctuating water levels of flood and drought conditions; they are tough, enduring and extremely important plant communities. Shoreline plants have wet roots and dry tops. The problem is traditional lawn grass, while not particularly harmful, has few of the benefits of a more natural shoreline. Lawns are shallow rooted, provide little wildlife habitat, need frequent maintenance and are often overfertilized. These factors can lead to problems on your lake such as: shoreline erosion and lake sedimentation, algal blooms and excessive aquatic p l a n t g ro w t h , l o s s o f wildlife habitat, but an increase in nuisance animals, and loss of leisure time.

Shoreline protection project during construction

Project after completion

If you live along a lake, river, or stream in Stevens County and would like to

look into doing a shore land protection project give us a call here at

Stevens SWCD (320)5894886 and ask for Matt.

About 4000 plants were used

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Stevens SWCD 2013 Annual Report  

The annual report for 2013 from the Stevens County, Minnesota, Soil and Water Conservation District.

Stevens SWCD 2013 Annual Report  

The annual report for 2013 from the Stevens County, Minnesota, Soil and Water Conservation District.