The Aitkin County Soil and Water Conservation District will partner with the Aitkin County Lakes and Rivers Association, Lake Associations, as well as other eligible community partners to reduce the impacts of stormwater runoff and keep water on the land. A mini-grant program to install rain gardens and native vegetation buffers along shorelines of lakes with a completed "Lake Assessment" supported by previous BWSR funding or a TMDL Implementation Plan will be implemented.
Based on the Minnesota Waters Lake and River Association database, Crow Wing County has the highest number of lake associations in Minnesota. Currently, there are over 136 lake association groups in the county, which does not include neighborhood, resort or religious groups. These lakes aer a cornerstone to the state's tourism econmy and there is a great demand for stormwater management incentive program to protect these local water resources.
Healthy communities and healthy water is a priority in Crow Wing County (CWC). The County and the Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) propose to enhance and improve the water quality of Little Buffalo Creek, a tributary to the Mississippi River. The SWCD will partner with CWC, the City of Brainerd, citizens, Central Lakes Community College, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to complete raingardens, shoreline stabilizations, and bioretention areas within the Little Buffalo Creek subwatershed.
Funds are to be used to protect, enhance and restore water quality in lakes, rivers and streams and to protect groundwater and drinking water. Activities include structural and vegetative practices to reduce runoff and retain water on the land, feedlot water quality projects, SSTS abatement grants for low income individuals, and stream bank, stream channel and shoreline protection projects. For the fiscal year 2012, BWSR awarded 12 local governments with funds.
The Kettle River is a major tributary in the St. Croix River Basin. It is a State Wild and Scenic River and designated canoe route. Reducing sediment and nutrient pollution to the Kettle will protect water quality within the watershed and will also benefit the St. Croix River and help to address excess nutrient loading in Lake St. Croix. This project is a partnership between Carlton, Pine, Kanabec, and Aitkin SWCDs, with the Carlton SWCD acting as the project administrator.
RIM Buffers Phase 1 combined the resource benefits of the Outdoor Heritage Fund (LSOHC), Clean Water Fund (CWF), and bond funds. This program exceeded our acreage goal by 439 acres (37%), enrolling a total of 1,595.4 acres of enhanced wildlife and water quality buffers in partnership with private landowners on 46 easements.
RIM Buffers Phase II combined the resource benefits of the Outdoor Heritage Fund (LSOHC), Clean Water Fund (CWF), and bond funds. This program enrolled a total of 1,336.7 acres of enhanced wildlife and water quality buffers in partnership with private landowners on 29 easements. With 1337 acres (all sources of funding) protected and restored in this phase, we exceeded the original goal of 400 acres of OHF funded buffers and 400 acres of CWF funded buffers. Bonding dollars were used to fund the remaining 537 acres.
The North Fork Crow River Watershed (NFCRWD) is mainly agricultural and has numerous public and private drainage ditches. Sub-surface drainage are major contributors to the sediment and nutrient loading into the North Fork Crow River and area Lakes. This project help reach the Rice Lake phosphorous reductions goals. Local landowners are willing to contribute land on public drainage systems to retain water and restore wetlands at three locations with total anticipated yearly pollutant removals of 200 tons of total suspended sediment and 235 pounds of phosphorus.
The primary land use within the North Fork Crow River Watershed District is mainly row crop agriculture with extensive public and private drainage systems. A large portion of existing tile lines have open intakes that directly transport sediment and nutrients to open ditches leading to the North Fork Crow River (NFCR). The NFCR flows into Rice Lake that is impaired for aquatic recreation due to excessive nutrients.
The 400-mile stretch of the Mississippi River from its headwaters at Lake Itasca to Morrison County near Little Falls is the focus of this project. Working in cooperation with the eight member counties, this project will develop implementation plans and strategies geared specifically for the Mississippi River and incorporate them into the individual County Comprehensive Local Water Plans. These recommendations will be for specific strategies, often crossing county boundaries for implementation.
Lake Minnewaska, a highly used recreational lake, is the largest body of water in Pope County. While scientific studies show that the transparency in Lake Minnewaska has been increasing over the last 30 years, there are numerous ravines on the south shore of Lake Minnewaska that could threaten this trend. The erosion in these ravines is causing large amounts of sediment and phosphorus to be dumped directly into Lake Minnewaska. After a storm in 2011, many trees vegetating the ravines were blown down, ripping out the roots and further exposing the soil along these ravines.
The RIM-WRP Partnership permanently protected 5,559 acres of priority wetlands and associated upland native grassland wildlife habitat via perpetual conservation easements on 60 sites and leveraged over $11 million of federal Wetlands Reserve Program funds.
PROJECT OVERVIEW The Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) Wetlands Reserve Program restores wetlands and grasslands through the purchase of permanent conservation easements on privately owned land. The easements limit future land use and put conservation plans in place for future management. The Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources is using this appropriation to accelerate the RIM Wetlands Reserve Program resulting in additional permanently protected wetlands and grasslands throughout the state.
State law (M.L. 2011, First Special Session, Ch. 6) directs restoration evaluations to be conducted on habitat restoration projects completed with funds from the Clean Water Fund (M.S. 114.D.50 Subd. 6). The Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) is responsible for convening a Restoration Evaluation Panel containing at least five technical experts who will evaluate a sample of up to 10 habitat restoration projects annually. The Panel will evaluate the restorations relative to the law, current science, stated goals and standards in the restoration plans, and applicable guidelines.
This pilot program protected 1,210 acres of wild rice lake shoreland habitat in the Northern Forest Section by securing 14 permanent RIM conservation easements and four fee-title acquisitions, surpassing our goal of 700 acres, and doing so $250,202 under budget.
This project contains several activities that will implement effective, shovel ready conservation practices on multiple water bodies. The goal is to reduce the erosion impacting stream bank stability. Three initiatives will be implemented, including the installation of four shoreland restoration/stabilization projects, completion of two stream bank stabilization projects on the Middle Fork Crow River and a rain barrel program. An education program will provide outreach to lake and city residents throughout the Middle Fork Crow River Watershed.
Eight RIM Wetlands applications were selected for funding on 1146.2 acres from this appropriation. In addition 19 RIM-WRP easements, totaling 2,239 acres were funded. Thus a total of 3,385 acres were protected and restored to wetland and grassland habitat. All easements have been recorded. Leverage from other sources of funds was a little over $4.5M.
This project makes an additional plant growth chamber available to increase efficiency for the MPCA Wild Rice Standards Study, which is gathering information about the effects of sulfate on the growth of wild rice.