Cedar and Farm Island are large recreational lakes located in the Aitkin/Brainerd Lakes area. Both lakes are showing significant downward trends in water clarity. The trend coincides with watershed development that increases water runoff. This project seeks to reverse that trend before these lakes degrade further and become impaired. Changing land uses now through incentives is a very cost-effective way to manage these lakes.
Mille Lacs Lake is recognized as one of the premier walleye producing lakes in the world. The current water quality of the lake is good, however recent monitoring of the lake and its watershed indicates the potential to develop problems. Since 1997, the Mille Lacs Lake Watershed Management Group has worked to preserve the water quality of Mille Lacs Lake. Five priority projects were identified by the Group partners in an effort to preserve water quality. Support for these projects was provided by a grant from the Clean Water Fund.
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.
The Greater Blue Earth River Basin is a large area within the Watonwan, Le Sueur, and Blue Earth River watersheds. Recent research by University of Minnesota, the National Center for Earth Dynamics, and others has found this basin to be the largest contributor of sediment to Lake Pepin.
The Greater Blue Earth River Basin Alliance (GBERBA), a nine County/SWCD JPO has identified buffers as a basin priority. This initiative will work towards the goal of identifying all DNR protected shoreland in the GBERBA counties without a 50 foot vegetative buffer. Buffer strips protect surface and groundwater from a multitude of pollutants. During stormwater run off events buffers can remove between 50 and 100 percent of nutrients, pesticides, pathogens, and sediment. The estimated sediment reduction for this project is 756 tons per year prevented from entering our waters.
The Big Sandy Area Lakes Watershed Management Project has developed innovative projects to protect and improve water quality, wildlife, and the fishery resources in the Big Sandy Lake Watershed since 1991. Projects have focused on the main ecological problems and sources of nutrient loading to Big Sandy and other watershed lakes. A Clean Water Fund Grant provided funding for nine demonstration projects that continue this work. Projects planned for this area focus on controlling shoreline erosion and overland runoff that carries soil and nutrients to the lakes.