South Central Technical Service Area (SCTSA) will use this Clean Water Fund grant to provide Soil and Water Conservation Districts and other local organizations in its eleven-county area with a Geographic Information System (GIS) Technician to assist in using available GIS information to target specific locations where Best Management Practices (BMPs) can be installed to help improve water quality.
The north-central Minnesota counties of Cass and Hubbard share large portions of the Crow Wing River, Leech and Upper Mississippi Watersheds, all of which play an important role in providing clean drinking water to over one million Minnesota residents. Each county assumes the responsibility of inspecting and evaluating the judicial and county ditch systems that drain directly into these watersheds. The two counties together share two judicial ditch systems and combined have an additional 42 ditches within their borders.
The objective of this project is to manage streambanks and floodplains along Elm Creek in Martin County in order to improve water quality and reduce erosion. Elm Creek flows into the Blue Earth River, which flows into the Minnesota River. Elm Creek is currently listed as impaired for fish bioassessments, turbidity, and fecal coliform.
A new GIS technician will help prioritize and target conservation activities and protection strategies in nine north-central Minnesota counties. The GIS technician will create GIS products, assessments, and watershed analysis to identify the high priority areas in each County or watershed in need of protection or restoration using all available data, including LiDAR, soils, land use, completed WRAPS and other datasets. These areas will then be targeted for future resource management efforts, Clean Water Fund projects, and additional conservation activities.
The Watonwan Watershed Technician will provide highly focused targeting of conservation programs and practices. The technician will enhance current staff capabilities in the Watonwan watershed by collecting landowner contact information from previous studies and GIS methods, produce mass mailings about funding opportunities, and meet one-on-one with landowners to discuss their conservation concerns. The technician will implement 45 projects/practices over a three year period.
Twenty six easements protecting 1,173.3 were recorded which exceeded the original proposal by 173 acres (15%). 11.6 miles of shoreline were protected which exceeded the 8 acre goal by 30%. Total expenditure was $1,355,000 which was 17% lower than originally budgeted. No fee-title land acquisition opportunities on wild rice lakes that fit within DNR and other government agency land plans were available during this time period thus DU did not expend any of the $100,000 budgeted for fee-title acquisition. Instead the program focused on RIM easements.