Root River 2021 annual report: One Watershed, One Plan

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Moth Spring located in Fillmore County

Root River Watershed: Look back on 2021

Crooked Creek Watershed District

During 2021, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, alongside county partners, landowners, and producers continued efforts toward conservation and implementing best management practices within the Root River Watershed. Thanks to Watershed Based Implementation Funding through the Root River 1W1P, grade stabilization structures, grassed waterways, and prairie strips were able to be constructed.

Sunset view of the Root River in winter

A shallow stretch of the Root River located in Fillmore County


Rock covering for waterway outlet

Crew use sensing data to measure the depth of the incline

Grassed waterway and grade control projects in Olmsted County In the North Branch of the Root River watershed, just south of Rochester, the Jay Miller grassed waterway and grade control project was completed.

erosion will be eliminated.” Landowner input is very important in the design process of these projects and is always taken into consideration as a top priority. The project cost a total of $11,353, 75% of which was covered by Root River watershed funding ($8,140).

The project site had an old grassed waterway that had gullied out and a decades old, eroded concrete drop structure.

The Root River watershed funding helps SWCDs expand initiatives to include priority projects in the watersheds that might not have been able to be funded otherwise.

“When the landowner contacted [Olmsted SWCD] he was very concerned about the gully erosion that was occurring above and below the old drop structure.” says Angela White, a district technician with Olmsted SWCD. “He wanted to replace the failing drop structure with a practice easier to maintain.” To address these concerns, the old waterway was reconstructed and a tile was installed. The old drop structure was torn out and replaced with two rock checks which acted to help prevent future gully erosion where the slope steepens. Thus, “By shaping the grass waterway above and below the existing drop structure it will allow the landowner to better maintain the site and all the

Completed grassed waterway located in Olmsted County


Crews moving dirt on the back slope, plunge pool, and emergency spillway of Klinski-Hammell structure

Klinski-Hammell structure completed in Houston County Erosion control was another watershed issue Root River partners continued to address in 2021. Located in the Root River watershed priority area on Crooked Creek in Houston County, the Klinski-Hammell grade stabilization structure was one of the largest projects of the year.

Erosion on Whitetail Drive after 2016 flooding

Construction for the project began in June 2021 and wrapped up in October 2021, finally being able to follow through on the many years of planning prior. The drainage area of the site includes 1,010 acres which is a mix of tilled farmland, CRP, pasture, and forestland. The main benefits of this installation include reduced flood damage, reduced sedimentation into Crooked Creek, and improved trout habitat. Root River SWCD worked alongside Crooked Creek Watershed District, Houston County, USDA NRCS, Minnesota DNR, G-Cubed Engineering, Generation X Construction, the Hammell and Klinski families, 4

Inlet and dam of structure

and numerous other federal and state agencies to make this project completion possible. Total cost for the project landed around $640,000 with over half being covered by cost shares from the Root River watershed funding ($380,000), $40,000 from Houston County, and the remaining covered by Crooked Creek Watershed District ($220,000) .

Lanesboro Dam on Root River in Lanesboro, MN

Flooding on the Root River in Houston County, MN

Root River from Above

Root River entering the Mississippi with high sedimentation levels


View of the original embankment structure and evidence of erosion occurring

Grade stabilization project on Kunst Farms

One major project that Winona SWCD worked on during 2021 involved fixing a 40-50 year old embankment on the Kunst Farms property. This embankment was blown out due to

an earthen spillway which was experiencing erosion due to past large storm events. With each additional storm event, eroded sediment collected in the bottom with the deepest areas being 6-7 feet. Erosion and gullying from the original decaying structure


Photos of the construction phase of the Kunst Farms project

Directly downstream of The new embankment the embankment, a was designed to withstand significant gully formed a 10yr-24hr storm event. which was another The embankment was concern that needed to be designed manage addressed. stormwater erosion and With all concerns taken allow for a permanent into consideration, it was pool of water for cattle ultimately decided that and wildlife to use. the entire structure An emergency earthen needed to be torn down spillway was designed on and rebuilt.

the opposite side of the one that had blown out of the existing embankment. During construction, eroded sediment collected over the years was salvaged from the existing pool and used as topsoil in the new embankment. Sediment was also used to fix upstream pasture and cropland. The new embankment is built to trap and future sediment and will significantly reduce peak discharge of storm and runoff events to a much greater extent than the old embankment. The major result from the completion of this project is a great reduction in downstream erosion and flooding from major weather events.

The final outcome of the new basin and embankment structure


From Mower County to the Mississippi, groups from all across Southeast Minnesota utilize the Root River for various outdoor environmental education field trips, events, and recreational activities.

Root River Float


Grassed waterways and grade stabilization structures control gullies in Fillmore County

Erosion in Fillmore County

The Root River watershed spans the entirety of Fillmore County.

Project site during construction

During 2021, Fillmore County continued to combat erosion and sediment concerns in the Root River Watershed.

These structures were designed to help control gullies in croplands and wooded edges. 1,431 feet of grassed waterways and 2,030 feet of lined waterways were installed. Grassed waterways help slow stormwater and protect against field erosion.

To address these concerns, Fillmore SWCD installed best management projects such as grassed waterways and grade stabilization structures.

Funding for these best management practices totaled $56,908. EQIP funding also contributed to grassed waterway projects in Fillmore County.

Fillmore SWCD created nine grade stabilization structures during the 2021 year.

Finished grade stabilization project located in Fillmore County


Mower SWCD’s James Fett and landowner Wayne DeWall stand in a prairie strip on DeWall’s property

Clouded Sulphur butterfly on a purple coneflower planted in a prairie strip

Prairie strips and grassed waterways in the Root River headwaters works to implement best management practices in the Root River Watershed. About 16.7% of the Root River watershed is located in eastern Mower County. Because of its location in the headwaters, Mower SWCD actively

Grassed waterway constructed through cropland in Eastern Mower County

Over the past year, Mower SWCD has created 1.3 miles of grass waterways, in three waterway projects with three landowners. 9.74 acres of land were enrolled

in the prairie strip program with three contracts.

In the following years, Mower SWCD hopes to expand their prairie strip programs to more landowners in Mower County to increase habitat for native pollinators and various wildlife.

Prairie strip almost in bloom near a water monitoring station in eastern Mower County 10

Projects and Funding Projects Completed: 41

Rock-lined Waterway

Grade Stabilization Structures


Control Basins


Waste Storage Facility





49,187 Grassed Waterways (linear feet) 10,227 Terraces (linear feet)

Grassed Waterway

Grade Stabilization


Rock-lined Waterways (linear feet)


Streambank Protection (linear feet)


Cover Crops (acres)


Prairie Strips (acres)


Critical Area Planting (acres)

Prairie Strips

Cover Crops

Total Project Funding: $861,967.62 Grant 1 (2018-2021) $386,176.38 Grant 2 (2020-2022) $475,791.24 11

Root River Watershed @RootRiverMN

Fillmore SWCD

Fillmore County

Root River SWCD

Houston County

507-765-3878 ext. 3 900 Washington St. NW Preston, Minnesota 55965

101 Fillmore St. Preston, MN 55965

507-724-5261 ext. 3 805 State Highway 44/76 Caledonia, MN 55921 departments/soil-and-water

Also the contact information for Crooked Creek Watershed District

Mower SWCD

Mower County

Winona SWCD

Winona County

507-434-2603 ext. 5 1408 21st Ave. NW Austin, MN 55912

507-437-9494 201 1st St. NE Austin, MN 55912

507-523-2171 ext. 3 P.O. Box 39, 400 Wilson St. Lewiston, MN 55952

507-457-6350 202 West Third St. Winona, MN 55987

Olmsted SWCD

Olmsted County

Dodge SWCD

Dodge County

507-328-7070 2122 Campus Dr SE #200, Rochester, MN 55904 residents/soil-waterresources

507-328-7070 151 4th St. SE Rochester, MN 55904-3710

507-374-6364 ext. 3 916 2nd St. SE Dodge Center, MN 55927


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