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2017 Annual Report


2017 Mower SWCD Board of Supervisors

New buffer along a soybean field in Waltham Township.

Mower posts strong year for conservation in 2017 By Justin Hanson, Mower SWCD district manager Conservation in Mower County experienced a significant year in 2017. There were many success stories around the county last year. This again reflected the conservation ethics we have in Mower County and the leadership of active agricultural producers. Minnesota’s implementation of the new state buffer law was a hot topic in 2017 around Mower County and much of Minnesota. Mower County landowners met the fall compliance deadline with a 98.5% compliance plan. This means nearly all Mower County landowners had buffer in place or a plan with our staff for seeding needed areas in spring 2018. Many used the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), and nearly all those landowners enrolled more acres than they needed to meet the buffer law’s criteria. Mower SWCD’s soil-health initiative also took off in a new gear last year. Cover crops and reduced tillage have been adopted practices for years on farms. We, however, haven’t had great data or a plan for how to get healthier soil. Our local soil health team, though, has been active networking around the county and comparing notes on establishing the right steps for healthier soil. The Hormel Foundation also is supporting the effort with a $98,000 grant for our office to research the conservation and financial benefits of putting soil-health practices on the land. Thanks to all our customers and partners. This is truly the greatest county in Minnesota to be doing conservation work. We look forward to carrying the momentum right into 2018.

2017 Mower SWCD staff

Justin Hanson

Jeanne Crump

Cody Fox

James Fett

Administrator

Admin. Assistant

Project Manager

Watershed Tech

Steve Lawler

Aaron Gamm

Tim Ruzek

Larry Callahan

Resource Specialist

District Tech

Public Outreach

District Tech

Mower SWCD Website

www.mowerswcd.org

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Looking Back - 2017 Best Management Practices Leveraged funds in 2017

Cover crops - 13 projects

(3,623 acres of cover crops)

Grass waterways - 10 projects (approximately 3 miles total)

Federal funding $3.3 million (CRP, EQIP, CSP) State funding

$930,470

Field structures - 13 projects

Windbreaks - 6 projects

CRP - 1,400 acres enrolled

State Ag BMP loans $222,285 (12 contracts) TOTAL: $4.49 million

CRP signups in Mower post strong year Mower County gained more than 1,100 acres in new conservation land in 2017 through contracts signed for the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Overall, Mower County landowners signed 132 contracts in 2017 with CRP, involving about 1,288 acres overall. This included new CRP contracts and re-enrollments.

Mower SWCD and local U.S. Department of Agriculture staff deliver CRP in Mower County. CRP involves 10- to 15year contracts that remove environmentally sensitive land from farm production by planting species to improve environmental health and quality. With CRP, landowners get yearly rental payments. As of March 2018, Mower County

had 1,018 CRP contracts for about 9,748 acres. In 2017, the federal government paid about $2.7 million overall to Mower County landowners through new and existing CRP contracts and related incentive options. Future CRP offerings depend on the next federal Farm Bill in the works now.

EQIP adds grass waterways, other projects to farmland in local watersheds Mower County agricultural producers and landowners in three priority watersheds used federal EQIP funds in 2017 to solve natural resource problems on their farms. A voluntary program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), provided about $125,785 last year for financial and technical assistance to Mower County ag producers and landowners for various projects, including grass waterways and cover crops. EQIP contracts give financial assistance to help plan and implement conservation practices addressing natural-resource concerns. The conservation practices aim to avoid, control and trap nutrient runoff; prevent erosion; and provide essential wildlife habitat. These practices benefit the natural resources and enhance agricultural profitability through re-

duced input and enhanced soil health, resulting in higher soil organic matter, increased infiltration and water-holding capacity, and nutrient cycling. “EQIP provides a significant amount of funding for conservation projects in Mower County,” Mower SWCD district manager Justin Hanson said. “It really helps us work toward our goals, especially in relation to water quality.” Locally, Mower County had three priority areas in 2017 for EQIP, with land in those zones being eligible for consideration of enhanced cost assistance on conservation practices. Those areas include the subwatersheds of Root River (south branch), Rose Creek and Dobbins Creek (northsouth branches), which need participants in the final grant year of the Mississippi River Basin Initiative (MRBI) led by the federal Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). Under MRBI, Mower SWCD and NRCS-Mower

David Wick, a Conservation Corps summer apprentice, surveys for a grass waterway under EQIP near Dobbins Creek.

County have worked with producers and landowners in the three subwatersheds to implement voluntary conservation practices to improve water quality, restore wetlands, enhance wildlife habitat and sustain ag profitability in the Mississippi basin.


Several grass waterways converge near a sediment-control drop structure in part of the Frank Family Farms’ cropland in Dexter Township in the Rose Creek headwaters area.

Franks awarded 2017 Mower County conservation honor Farming in the headwaters of ways of managing fields. Rose Creek has presented soilStarted in 1974 on 480 acres, erosion challenges to the Frank the farm began after Herman and family while operating 1,100 acres Marge Frank moved from farming for corn, soybeans and hay just in Illinois to Mower County with outside of Dexter. children, Ed, Ted and Eileen. Frank Family Farms, however, In 2010, the Franks started has worked strongly to address converting to strip till in corn and those issues by using a variety of soybeans to address soil erosion. conservation practices that, as of Strip till disturbs less soil by not 2017, included six grass watertilling the entire field – only strips ways (about 18 acres total); cover for planting row crops. It leaves crops incorporated into a 300more crop residue on the soil to acre corn field; buffers established act as a protective layer and slow voluntarily; a sediment-control stormwater. drop structure in a waterway to Several reasons drove the prevent erosion; and strip tillage decision to switch to strip till, inused on all cropland. cluding labor, fuel and machinery Frank Family Farms was recog- savings, Tom Frank said. A major nized as the 2017 reason, however, Conservationist of was to slow erosion the Year for Mower and improve soil County as chosen structure to enable by Mower SWCD’s the soil to absorb Board of Superviand hold more sors. The family moisture. was honored by “We believe a big Part of the Franks’ fields near Dexter. part of being farmMower SWCD at the Mower County ers is to be good Fair’s opening event in August and stewards of what God has given at the annual state SWCD conven- us to be in charge of,” Tom Frank tion in December. said. “That is not only doing our Frank Family Farms is led by best to run a profitable, sustainaEd & Cindy Frank and Ted & Kim ble farming operation but also to Frank with their son, Tom, and care for the land.” wife, Kelsey. They farm in Dexter For grass waterways, the and Grand Meadow townships Franks have worked with the Enviand operate a birth-to-market ronmental Quality Incentives Prohog operation with 600 sows. gram (EQIP) and Conservation Mower SWCD chose the Reserve Program (CRP). After Franks for the award due to the some trial years, they also now family’s level of care for the land are in their first season using covand continuing effort to try new er crops on a large scale.

Ed Frank; Ted Frank; and Ted’s son, Tom Frank; lead the Frank Family Farms that was awarded in the 2017 summer with Mower SWCD’s annual conservation award.

Members of the Frank family join Mower SWCD staff and board members in December 2017 at Minnesota’s annual state SWCD convention in Bloomington.


Efforts focused on projects in Root River headwaters Covering much of Mower County’s east- management plan for Root River 1W1P and ern half, the Root River watershed contina joint powers agreement for continuing to ued to get much attention from local and work together under the initiative. state initiatives in 2017. Starting as a drainage ditch in eastern Mower SWCD remained involved last Mower County, the Root River flows east year in the Root River One Watershed, One through much geologic diversity, including Plan pilot project that had a final, waterglacial till, karst topography and bluff land shed-based plan adopted in early 2017 by before emptying into the Mississippi River local government agencies in its planning in Houston County. area that includes the Root River and Upper Root River 1W1P’s planning area covers Iowa watersheds in Mower County. more than 1.3 million acres in parts of six Eastern Mower County counties – Dodge, Fillmore, is the headwaters of Root Houston, Mower, Olmsted River’s north, middle and and Winona. south branches. Mower SWCD also has Root River 1W1P is prebeen working with landparing for its first year of owners in eastern Mower projects in 2018 driven by County to implement structhe new plan that was one tures in their fields to adof five 1W1P pilot projects dress water and soil issues launched in 2014 by the through several initiatives, Minnesota Board of Water including the Root River & Soil Resources (BWSR). Field to Stream Partnership Root River 1W1P’s local led by the Minnesota Degovernment units include partment of Agriculture. Fillmore (administrator), This Field to Stream Dodge, Mower, Olmsted, work has included Mower Houston and Winona (fiscal Area of eastern Mower County (in blue) SWCD assisting with wateragent) counties along with targeted for Root River 1W1P projects. monitoring stations in the their respective SWCDs. south branch’s headwaters Root River SWCD represents Houston Coun- as well as helping to build of water-andty. Crooked Creek Watershed District in sediment control basins and thousands of Houston County also is among them. feet of grass waterways. In December 2016, the Policy ComStarted in 2009, Field to Stream uses mittee approved the final waterinnovative equipment and technology to

Snow melt runoff flows through a monitoring station in Root River’s south branch headwaters of eastern Mower County.

monitor sediment and nutrient runoff from farm fields and to study streams receiving that stormwater. Information collected in the project’s initial six years (phase one) gave farmers baseline data to better understand the effects of their existing conservation practices. Monitoring continues at these sites as phase two begins. Mower SWCD monitors and maintains three water-sampling stations for the project in Mower County’s Bennington Township, north of LeRoy. Under the project, the stations sample surface and tile runoff water from the field edge along with water in a ditch at the outlet of the headwaters study area. Sampling has continued into this winter. Kevin Kuehner is MDA’s project lead for the Field to Stream Partnership.

Cedar River 1W1P moving into plan development Progress is being made by local officials on developing a watershedbased plan for the Cedar River Watershed in Minnesota. Aimed at protecting and improving local waterways, the Cedar River One Watershed, One Plan (1W1P) initiative began in late 2016 hosted a public kickoff on June 1 at Austin’s Jay C. Hormel Nature Center to inform citizens on the process and gather public feedback. Partners from Dodge, Freeborn, Mower and Steele counties and each county’s SWCD are working with the Cedar River Watershed District, Turtle Creek Watershed District and the City of Austin on Cedar River 1W1P. Overall, Cedar River 1W1P’s boundaries cover 462,295 acres. Most of the land – about 57 percent – is in Mower County. CRWD’s political boundaries are within the 1W1P planning area along with Turtle Creek Watershed District’s area and the watersheds for the Little Cedar River, Otter Creek and Wapsipinicon River in Mower County and the Deer Creek watershed in southeast Freeborn County. In August 2016, the state approved up to $1.7 million overall for seven watersheds, including the Cedar, to conduct the next round of 1W1P projects. Cedar River 1W1P has about $192,500 for its work. Under 1W1P, the state aims to create watershed-based plans rather than ones based on political boundaries to ensure the biggest threats to a watershed’s water resources are addressed with practices providing the greatest environmental benefits.

Cedar River 1W1P planning area

Cedar River 1W1P’s planning area includes the Cedar River and Turtle Creek watershed districts’ areas along with other watersheds outside of those boundaries, including the Little Cedar River, Wapsipinicon River; Otter Creek; and Deer Creek.


Cover Crop Champion grant boosts Cover cropping in southeast Minnesota increased greatly in awareness in 2017 thanks to a national grant awarded to Mower SWCD for work with two local farmers. Mower SWCD got an $8,740 grant as part of the National Wildlife Federation’s Cover Crop Champion program. The NWF grant supported extensive outreach by Mower SWCD with Cover Crop Champion farmers Tom Cotter and Tom Finnegan. NWF’s grant significantly enhanced Mower SWCD’s soil-health initiative that it started in 2015. Cotter and Finnegan incorporate cover crops into their farm operations, both located just outside of Austin. Cover cropping involves the planting of a second, unharvested crop in coordination with regular

Red Rock Township farmer Tom Finnegan talks cover crops at his farm in May 2017 outside of Austin at a Field Day put on as part of the Cover Crop Champion grant.

cash crops, such as corn and soybeans. Other soil-health practices include only tilling strips on a field before planting – a type of minimum tillage – and no tilling to reduce erosion. Steve Lawler, Mower SWCD’s resource specialist, worked closely with Cotter and Finnegan on Cover Crop Champion activities. He met both through the Mower Soil Health Team formed in early 2016. “Cotter and Finnegan were ideal farmers for this work,” Lawler said, “and they continue to be great speakers because they’re passionate about cover crops and what that practice can do to help a farm in numerous ways while also benefiting the environment and wildlife.” Cotter, a fourth-generation farmer, raises corn, soybeans, peas, sweet corn and alfalfa as well as runs a cow/calf beef operation on his Austin Township farm. In 2016, Cotter and his father, Michael, were Mower SWCD’s Outstanding Conservationists of the Year and also certified by the state’s Ag Certainty water-quality program. With cover crops, Cotter has increased his grain quality; reduced chemical and fertilizer inputs; increased water infiltration; and greatly reduced erosion. “It’s not too late to do our part in saving our environment one acre at a time,” Cotter

Conventionally farmed land (left) next to cropland managed with soil-health practices (right) in spring 2017 in Austin Township.

“We need to think about the changes we implement now to secure the land and wildlife for future generations.” — Tom Cotter, farmer said. “We need to think about the changes we implement now to secure the land and wildlife for our future generations.” To succeed in cover cropping, Cotter said networking with farmers has proven vital. “Cover cropping is a journey I’ve been on for many years,” he said. “I had felt alone until I joined the soil-health teams and realized there are other like-minded farmers out there.”


Mower SWCD soil-health initiative Finnegan is one of those farmers Cotter connected with through cover-crop networking. A third-generation livestock producer in Red Rock Township along Dobbins Creek, Finnegan is an electrician who runs a cow/calf beef operation while, in recent years, also growing corn and soybeans. Finnegan, who, along with his father, George, was Mower SWCD’s 2007 Outstanding Conservationist, used to rent his land to crop farmers until he started noticing undesirable changes on the ground. He then chose to start farming his land with a minimum-tillage approach. He now covers all his farmed land with cover crops that help his beef enterprise and goals for conservation and wildlife — a high priority to him as an avid outdoorsman. “In just a few years, we are seeing a significant change,” Finnegan said of his land along Dobbins Creek near Austin. The Cover Crop Champion grant is done but Mower SWCD, which started a soilhealth initiative in 2015, is continuing that effort in 2018, including outreach with Cotter, Finnegan and other farmers at local, state and national events.

soils that have not been studied to this degree,” said Lawler, a certified soil scientist leading the project. “We are very grateful for The Hormel Foundation’s support as this project’s findings could be applied on a broad scale by producers in our county, southern Minnesota and beyond.” Lawler has more than 30 years of applied soil science in the field that includes, in a previous role, creating a soil survey of MowMower SWCD’s Steve Lawler speaks to about 90 attendees in May 2017 at the Cover Crop Field Day in Mower County. er County in the 1980s. He now is set to start field work in 2018 for the project and will work in fields and soil labs with paid from The Hormel Foundation to conduct staff and college interns from University of extensive research analyzing soil health at Minnesota, University of Wisconsin-River potentially 45 plots in Mower County. The three-year study will look at the benefits of Falls and Riverland Community College’s Center for Agricultural & Food incorporating cover crops and Science Technology in Austin. other soil-health practices into farm operations. Farmers are interested in soil The nearly $200,000 project health, Lawler said. For some will match the Foundation’s producers, soil health has provgrant with state “capacity” en itself in their farming , he funds given annually by the said, but others want more data Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Resources and scientific evidence before making and in-kind services by partners. changes. Mower SWCD aims to provide farmers “Some farmers are skeptical and want Hormel Foundation supports soil research with better soil-health data to support their more proof,” Lawler said, “and this project operations and practices that benefit the will help provide them with information on Mower SWCD, which started a soil environment. what cover crops and other soil-health prachealth initiative in 2015, successfully re“Mower County has high-quality, unique tices are doing on our local soils.” quested a $98,000 grant in summer 2017


Third CREP starts to permanently enroll farmland into conservation Gathered just uphill from the meandering Cedar River, Mower SWCD and partnering agencies in May 2017 celebrated the first signup day for Minnesota’s new round of a state-federal program that permanently enrolls farmland into conservation. Mower SWCD organized a media event for the new round of the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) in Mower County’s Udolpho Township on land enrolled in a previous MN CREP round by farmer Roger Peterson. Peterson, who has participated in nuMower SWCD’s Justin Hanson refers to CREP landowner Roger Peterson (left) in May 2017 at a media event along the merous conservation programs, joined Cedar River in Udolpho Township announcing the start of the permanent conservation program’s third round. Also Mower SWCD district manager Justin Hanpictured is Dave Copeland, board conservationist with the Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Resources. son in talking about the importance of MN CREP and encouraging landowners to con- loading in drinking supplies. MN CREP in Mower County Many opportunities are provided through sider it during the media event. MN CREP for landowners to restore their Peterson said MN CREP gave him the Mower County landowners interested land into a private wildlife area for their own chance to take eroding cropland and get in MN CREP should contact: paid to put it permanently into prairie grass. enjoyment or enroll farm land that often is frequently flooded or in the 100-year flood“I just jumped at that idea and never James Fett plain , said James Fett, Mower SWCD’s walooked back, and I’ve been happy with it Mower SWCD watershed technician tershed technician leadever since,” Peterson 507-434-2603 ing the CREP effort in said. “The wildlife here james.fett@mowerswcd.org Mower County. is phenomenal.” Compensation through MN CREP is a volunMN CREP websites MN CREP is offered at a tary state-federal profair market value. gram for agricultural www.mowerswcd.org “MN CREP is a way landowners seeking to www.bwsr.state.mn.us/crep protect environmentalto make a positive ly sensitive cropland. It change on the landis aimed at improving scape that lasts forevwater quality and habier,” Fett said. “We’re tat conservation. also excited to have The Cedar River flows past Roger Peterson’s CREP site Locally, Mower CREP back because, in northwest Mower County’s Udolopho Township. SWCD will serve as MN unlike other conservaCREP’s lead agency in Mower County, one tion programs, it’s not always available.” of 54 counties in southern and western MN CREP is funded with $150 million Minnesota selected for the new round. from the state and about $350 million from Overall, the new MN CREP will protect the U.S. Department of Agriculture. and restore up to 60,000 acres of marginal Landowners accepted into MN CREP will cropland in the state through buffer strips, enroll in the USDA’s Conservation Reserve wetland restoration and drinking water Program (CRP) for 14 to 15 years. wellhead protection. At the same time, the land will be put MN CREP will target riparian areas and into a permanent conservation easement via marginal ag land; restore hydrology, inthe state’s Reinvest in Minnesota program. crease infiltration and provide flood mitigaPrivate ownership continues and the tion; provide habitat for wildlife, non-game land is permanently restored and enhanced Mower SWCD’s James Fett, the MN CREP coordinator for species and pollinators; and reduce nitrate for water quality and habitat benefits. Mower County, talks with a landowner about the program.


Mower SWCD technician Aaron Gamm checks in July 2017 a newly established buffer strip planted last spring between a soybean field and Roberts Creek in Waltham Township.

SWCD, Mower landowners resolve buffer needs under new state law As of this fall, Mower County had a 98.5 percent compliance rate with the state of Minnesota’s new buffer law. After the law’s first compliance deadline on Nov. 1, 2017, that percentage of Mower County landowners either had the required buffer established with vegetation or had submitted planting plans with Mower SWCD staff for spring 2018. Staff have worked with partner agencies and organizations, including Mower County Farm Bureau, to communicate with and support Mower County

landowners in understanding and complying with the law. Prior to the Nov. 1 deadline, staff sent about 240 letters to specific landowners detailing their options to show progress in addressing buffer needs. This was a follow-up to Mower SWCD’s initial mailing of more than 300 letters in January 2017 notifying landowners about potential compliance issues on about 400 parcels. During the 2017 state legislative session, lawmakers extended the buffer compliance deadlines but still required landown-

Aaron Gamm, Mower SWCD technician, flags a boundary line in spring 2017 for a strip of land in Lansing Township in need of vegetative buffer under the new state law.

ers to work with their local SWCD by Nov. 1. Buffer compliance in the field now is July 1, 2018, or Nov. 1, 2018, depending on the option chosen by the landowner. Buffers are areas or strips of land kept in permanent vegetation – not farmed – to slow water runoff and help filter pollutants, such as phosphorus and nitrogen as well as sediment. Mower County had 95 percent compliance for acreage along public waterways prior to the state law passed in 2015. Under the law, landowners need to establish on public waterways a buffer averaging 50 feet wide with no less than 30 feet in any spot, unless approved for alternative practices. Public ditches must have at least 16.5 feet of buffer on each side. Mower SWCD has provided technical assistance to landowners for measuring, staking, seeding and layout designing for buffers while offering programs to help offset the loss of productive cropland. One of those options came out in May 2017 with a new round of the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program,

Mower SWCD manager Justin Hanson speaks next to Gov. Mark Dayton at a press conference Oct. 30 on the state buffer law.

also known as MN CREP. The voluntary program offers landowners higher payments to permanently protect cropland from being farmed. Since the buffer issue emerged, Mower County landowners have enrolled more than 4,000 acres into the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) that typically involves 10– to 15-year conservation easements. Studies by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency have shown that buffers are critical to protecting and restoring water quality and healthy aquatic life, natural stream functions and aquatic habitat due to their immediate proximity to the water.


Connecting, educating on Mower County’s natural resources


Study shows effect of cover crops, less tillage on watershed Known for flash flooding, the recipe for success in our waterDobbins Creek watershed could shed,” Hanson said. “That’s not see significant water-quality pro- only going to be effective for wagress with more cover crops and ter quality but also have a draless tillage on its farm fields, acmatic effect on water quantity.” cording to a 2017 study. Modeling in the study – fundStormwater flow likely would ed by a state Clean Water Legacy be reduced by 30 percent in Dob- grant – analyzed land managebins — a subwatershed that enment practices particularly for ters the Cedar River in Austin — how much each practice could with best-management practices offer for stormwater flow reducimplemented in critical areas tion. Much of the sediment runoff along with 30 percent of its farm- in Dobbins is caused by high flows. land getting year-round vegetaIdeally, best management tive cover, including crops, cover practices on Dobbins’ ag land crops and post-harvesting residue, would include water-andthe study says. sediment-control basins; grassed In fall 2017, Jim Solstad, a re- waterways; and vegetative bufftired state modeling hydrologist, ers. The study found these practicpresented the Mower SWCD staff es are effective individually but with results don’t achieve from his study enough collecthat included tively to reach work on the certain local Dobbins subwagoals, such as tershed. Cedar River WaWith the tershed Disfindings, staff trict’s goal of now can see a reducing stormrealistic scenarDobbins Creek’s south branch flows strong io in which agri- near a deer in Austin after heavy rain in July. water flows by 20 percent withcultural ecoin its boundanomics and water-resource imries. That’s why the study recomprovements can go together, mends incorporating cover crops Mower SWCD district manager and other soil-health practices, Justin Hanson said. such as strip tillage, on at least 30 “This shows that a combinapercent of Dobbins’ farm fields. tion of conservation and waterCover crops and other soilretention projects along with covhealth practices – such as minimal er crops and reduced tillage is the

Dobbins Creek’s north branch flows by a farm field in June 2017 in its headwaters area.

or no tillage – can reduce soil erosion and stormwater runoff; increase stormwater infiltration in fields; and keep excess nutrients from leaving the soil. Cover cropping involves planting a second, unharvested crop in coordination with regular cash crops, such as corn and soybeans. The study considered current land conditions along with practices being done by landowners in Dobbins while only looking at practices that would be realistic and a good fit for Dobbins. “We didn’t want to include a bunch of practices that a landowner most likely wouldn’t want to do on their land and would skew the data,” Hanson said. “We wanted something realistic.”

Dobbins Creek – listed by the state as “impaired” for aquatic life and turbidity (cloudiness) – has north and south branches converging at Austin’s Jay C. Hormel Nature Center. A large dam on it forms East Side Lake before it flows into the Cedar River. Overall, the Dobbins subwatershed totals more than 25,700 acres. About 71 percent of its acres are used for intensively farmed row crop land, with most being prime farmland that continuously produces high-grain yields. Dobbins has a terrain that, along with current landmanagement practices, does not offer much for natural water storage and leads to its tendency to flash flood, Hanson said.

Jacobsens honored for wildlife conservation Mower SWCD last summer honored the Ben Jacobsen Family — which runs Three Arrows Hunting Preserve in LeRoy Township — with its 2017 Outstanding Wildlife Conservationist award. Justin Hanson, district manager for Mower SWCD, awarded the family and spoke of its various conservation efforts during the Mower County Fair’s opening ceremony in August. Ben Jacobsen and his family own 60 acres of land in LeRoy Township and manage an adjacent 100 acres owned by Ben’s father, Robert, all for hunting and dog training. Ben Jacobsen’s grandfather bought the land in the 1920s, starting it as cropland and pasture then cropland before going into conservation.

“I grew up hunting and fishing and wanted to ensure my kids, and someday grandkids, would have a place to hunt,” Ben Jacobsen said. Three Arrows, which annually releases about 3,000 pheasants and 500 quail, is run by Jacobsen; his wife, Diane; and four children: Elizabeth, Christian, Haley and James. Three Arrows helps host youth hunts with two Pheasants Forever chapters and a fall hunt with Mower County’s Pheasants Forever to support breast cancer research. “We like to think of Three Arrows not only as a business but as stewards of the natural land we have,” Ben Jacobsen said. “We pride ourselves in the fact that we can share it with people who don’t normally get to experience nature and wildlife.”

Ben Jacobsen (center) next to wife, Diane, and children (left–right) Haley, James and Christian. Not pictured: daughter, Elizabeth.


Nearly 11,000 trees, shrubs sold by SWCD in ’17 program Mower SWCD’s annual tree and shrub program for conservation posted another successful year in 2017 at its new Austin pickup location. Landowners purchased nearly 11,000 trees and shrubs from Mower SWCD’s spring tree program. Buyers picked up container-grown trees and bareroot trees/shrubs on the Runnings store’s west side.

Runnings provided the space at no cost for the program, which operated well at the new site. The 2018 program also will be at Runnings. Annually, Mower SWCD takes tree orders until April 1. Mower SWCD designs windbreaks for Mower County landowners and offers 50percent cost share up to $500 on windbreaks.

Mower SWCD awards science fair projects

Bundled bareroot trees and shrubs in April 2017 at the Runnings store location.

Mower Soil & Water Conservation District 1408 21st Ave. NW Austin, MN 55912 507-434-2603 www.mowerswcd.org

Mower SWCD awarded its Outstanding Natural Resources Science Project honors for Austin Public Schools’ 2017 science fair —Cassidy Shute (top) for 5th-6th grade; Liam Mayers (bottom) for 3rd4th grade. SWCD technician Larry Callahan (pictured with both) served as the judge.

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2017 Annual Report for Mower SWCD  

2017 Annual Report for Mower SWCD  

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